How To Choose Kitchen And Dining Chairs

When you're outfitting your dining area, the table is the big decision, right? Chairs are an afterthought. But wait – what keeps everyone comfortable during those dinner parties, family get togethers and game nights? What will you rest in when you're taking a break from a marathon cooking session? Where will your children sit when they are doing their homework?

Chairs for your dining room or kitchen table need to be comfortable, durable and look good with the table and in the room too. It would seem that buying kitchen or dining room chairs is a bigger deal than it seems at first. Review a few of the elements that you need to consider when you purchase kitchen and dining chairs for your home.

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How Many Chairs Do You Need (And What Size is Appropriate?)

One of the biggest concerns you may have is how many chairs you will purchase. As a general rule, the bigger your table the more chairs it can support. However, there are other considerations such as where the table legs are and how wide the chairs are.

Most chairs are between 16 and 20 inches wide. Count on leaving at least six inches on each side of a chair so each chair will have between 28 and 32 inches dedicated to it. A loose rule of thumb is for every foot of table you can fit another chair (assuming chairs on each side of a square or rectangular table or around a round or oval table). Wider chairs may make this number skew fewer.

Another size consideration is height. Usually there would be 12 inches between the top of the chair's seat and the top of the table. The seat height will vary depending on if you have a standard table, pub table or bar-height table

White Plastic Matte Side Chair
Gray Metal Polyester Upholstered Dining Chair
Black Faux Leather Upholstered Metal Side Chair
Chrome Metal Vinyl Upholstered Side Chair
Green Solid Wood Dining Chair
Metal Golden Velvet Upholstered Side Chair

What Materials Are Best For Dining Chairs?

Some of the more common materials for dining or kitchen chairs are wood, metal and upholstered.


Wood chairs can range in style from rustic, like you would expect to find in a cabin, to traditional almost "old-fashioned" looking chairs, to modern chairs that may be minimalist or even painted black or white. These chairs can look at home in any environment. The best-made wood chairs are extremely durable. Look for chairs made of solid wood that are built to hold weight. Additional supports on the bottom can add to the durability too.


Metal tends to look more modern and sleek, though a cast iron look can have a rustic feel too. As far as durability goes, metal chairs are usually built to last. Metal can be powder coated to offer a variety of beautiful shades.


Transparent furniture is a great choice if you are short on square footage as it blends in seamlessly and looks as if it wasn't there at all. Strangely enough, these inconspicuous pieces are one of the surest ways of making a style statement and upgrading your decorating scheme. Good quality acrylic dining chairs are lightweigt, durable and most importantly, easy to clean. If you expose them to excess weight or improper use, however, irrepairable cracks may appear.

Antique Gray Solid Wood Dining Chair
Rustic Brown Solid Wood Upholstered Slat Back Side Chair
Metal Steel Silver Dining Chair
Plastic Side Chair In Transparent Clear
Black Polypropylene Plastic Side Chair
Metal Wicker Rattan Hickory Ivory Solid Wood Dining Chair
Mahogany Wicker Rattan Upholstered Side Dining Chair In Brown
Solid Wood Upholstered Dining Chair
Natural Wood Grain Upholstered Dining Chair

Is Upholstery a Good Idea For Dining Chairs?

Upholstered chairs are often more comfortable and usually look lavish, but keeping them clean and looking their best may involve more work that you are expecting. When you're in a room that will naturally have spills and messes, upholstery can be a problem.

If you decide to go for upholstered chairs, synthetic fabrics designed to resist spills and staining (think ultrasuede or polyester and viscose blends) are a good choice, unlike velvet, velour or chenilles, which are too demanding for a dining area. Leather provides comfort and durability too, but it tends to be on the expensive side of things and requires special maintanance. No matter the material, always consider Scotchgard protection to lengthen the life of your upholstery.

Slipcovers can help you protect your upholstery. You can enjoy the comfort of a thick, upholstered chair but not worry if someone spills their wine at dinner. The slipcover can be removed and washed. However, then you are not enjoying the beauty of the chair itself, so it can be a bit of a trade off.

If you decide to utilize slipcovers, you'll need to measure the seat and back of your chairs. Most slipcovers require these measurements. Choose a material for the slipcover that is machine washable so that washing is a breeze.

Polyester Foam Fabric Upholstered Side Chair
Metal Faux Leather Upholstered Side Chair
Gold Metal Velvet Upholstered Side Chair
Metal Plastic Solid Wood Microfiber Upholstered Dining Chair
Off White Gray Velvet Upholstered Dining Chair
Solid Wood Polyester Slipcover Upholstered Dining Chair

How to Match the Style of Dining Chairs to the Interior?

Ultimately, the style of dining or kitchen chair you choose is a personal choice. Your main thought will be how the chairs look with your table, but also with the overall decoration scheme.

  • A rustic farmhouse table will normally pair well with simple, wooden chairs.

  • A modern table would beg chairs that have sleek, clean lines without unnecessary details. While the material does not always have to be the same, just look at how the materials play off of each other.

  • High backed upholstered chairs pair nicely with traditional dining tables. Majestic and elegant, they beautifully match the nature of the time period.

  • The mixture of wood, metal and fabric speaks to a transitional scene.

  • A slightly more casual, mix and match, style may work in many settings too, from boho-style to elegant, vintage dining areas. You will usually want to pick a style and stick with it, changing the colors, or the upholstery on the seat. You can also take mismatched chairs and tie them together with the same fabric. The key is to not go so far off the track that it turns into a complete train wreck.

Coastal Tropical Manufactured Wood Upholstered Cross Back Side Chair In Distressed White
Plastic Polypropylene Modern Stackable Dining Chair
Farmhouse Linen Foam Brown Solid Manufactured Wood Dining Chair
Black Windsor Back Dining Chair
Bohemian Global Inspired Solid Wood Slat Back Dining Chair
Metal Glam Velvet Upholstered Dining Chair
Metal Cross Back Industrial Dining Chair
Solid Wood Polyester Blend Upholstered Side Chair In Brown
Modern & Contemporary White Solid Wood Slat Back Side Chair
Traditional Cherry Solid Wood Cotton Polyester Back Arm Chair

Should I Get Dining Chairs With Arms?

Another feature you may want to consider with your kitchen or dining chairs is arms. Arms are a personal preference. They do give chairs a more formal look, so they are less often seen in kitchens or rooms with a casual decorating scheme. However, they can make getting in and out of the seat easier for someone who has trouble getting around, so as a safety feature, arms can be beneficial.

Also, consider how much time your family are going to spend at the table. If it's just for grabbing a quick bite in the morning, you don't really need the comfort of resting your arms while seated. If, however, you plan to entertain a lot and people will spend long hours seated at the table, the benefit of chairs with comfy arms is obvious.

Choosing the right chairs for your table and the room in which they will reside means considering the size of the table and room, what you will be using the table for and the style and feel of the room. Take the time to look at what your needs are as well as what feel's right. The perfect chairs are out there--there is no need to settle for less than ideal.