Choosing dining chairs that help diners relax and maintain supportive posture while they’re eating is important for helping them fully enjoy every meal. That’s why we’ve prepped this list of guidelines, tips, and measurements that make it easy to select and arrange new dining chairs.
Your dining chairs should be comfortable, whether you’re eating a quick weeknight meal or losing track of time with friends during a holiday dinner. Much of that comfort comes from choosing chairs that are the right size. Use these helpful hints to determine the right dimensions for your seating.
- There should be 12 in. between the top of the chairs’ seats and the top of your dining table.
- There should be 7 in. between the tops of the chairs’ arms and the bottom of your tabletop or the apron, which is a band of material that runs underneath the tabletop for extra support.
- Chair seats should be about 18 in. off the floor so diners can comfortably rest their feet while seated. Most dining tables are about 30 in. high, so this meets the 12-in. distance guideline. If your dining table is a few inches higher, consider choosing chairs with foot bars between their front legs.
- If you’re looking for chairs that fit at your kitchen counter or breakfast bar, keep in mind that counters are about 36 inches high. The 12-in. guideline still applies, so search for tall chairs with 24-in. seats.
- Looking for bar chairs? Most bar counters are between 40 and 44 in. high. That means you’ll need stools or chairs with seat tops that are anywhere from 28 to 32 in. high.
Most dining chairs are between 16 and 20 in. wide. Chairs should be about 6 in. apart on each side so guests can move their arms comfortably. That means each chair takes up between 28 and 36 in. worth of table perimeter space. The backs of the chairs should sit at least 3 ft. from any walls to give diners enough room to get in and out.
Dining Chair Arrangement
The shape and size of your dining table can determine how many chairs it will seat comfortably. In general:
- Rectangular or oval tables of 72-in., 96-in., and 120-in. lengths fit 6 chairs, 8 chairs, and 10 chairs, respectively.
- Round or square tables with 48-in., 60-in., or 72-in. diameters or lengths fit 4 chairs, 6 chairs, and 8 chairs, respectively.
- For a straight bar or counter, measure the length in inches and divide it by 30 to get a general idea of how many chairs or stools can fit.
Chair Materials and Seating Options
Dining chairs are available in a wide variety of materials that can match your table, complement it, or create stylish contrast. The material you choose can transform the look of your table, and even set a completely new tone in your dining space. Wood and metal are two of the most common dining chair materials, but there’s a whole range of options that make shopping a truly personal experience.
Traditional and sturdy, wood is one of the most popular choices for dining room furniture. You can find chairs made entirely of solid wood, upholstered chairs with wood legs, and chairs with wood accents like backs and arms. Manufacturers can cut wood into just about any shape imaginable, including designs with ornate carvings.
Providing a sleeker, more modern appearance and an extra burst of shine, metal is another popular dining chair choice. It’s a great option for households with kids because it’s so easy to clean, but chairs with plain metal seats can be hard. Consider upholstered seats or cushions for extra comfort.
If you’re looking for something colorful, you’ll meet your match with plastic chairs. Often inexpensive compared to metal and wood dining furniture, plastic is another great option in homes that see a lot of activity and lively meals. They’re also lightweight and easy to move around. Manufacturers can mold plastic into a vast range of shapes — with or without embellished details.
This woven, willowy material is typically found on chair seats. It adds extra cushioning and a rustic, farmhouse touch to the room. Wicker chairs aren’t upholstered, but you can add seat cushions for more softness.
Upholstery adds padded comfort to your dining chairs, but it also makes them look inviting and gives you the opportunity to play with different fabric colors and textures. Upholstered dining chairs may have fabric or leather and padding solely on the chair seat, or these features may extend up and around the backs of the chairs. Leather, faux leather, and vinyl upholsteries are easy to wipe clean, so they make great choices in busy dining rooms.
Dining chairs without upholstery can be ideal in homes with kids. They have lower maintenance needs — you can simply wipe them off if they attract the splatters and crumbs of a lively dinner. You also have the option of adding removable cushions or chair slipcovers to the seats.
Types of Dining Chairs
Ideas about materials are swirling around in your head — now it’s time to blend those finishes with the different chair types to envision a set of dining chairs you absolutely love. Whether you’re seeking something with or without arms and fabric, there’s a chair style out there that’ll be perfect for you. Consider the following types to get a better feel for the different looks dining chairs come in.
Dining Chair Features
The different features available on dining chairs can increase your comfort and the chairs’ usability even more. Consider these options and how they might help you:
- Casters: These small wheels make it easier to push in and pull out your dining chairs, and they also help people get closer to the table once they’re seated. Casters are often removable if you decide you’d like to try your chairs without them. They roll best on bare floors, not rugs.
- Swiveling: Dining chairs that swivel have seats that turn atop their bases. These can be easier to get into without having to pull the chairs out very far from the table.
- Tilting: Like comfy office chairs, some dining chairs can tilt in different directions. This makes it easier to reach that bowl of mashed potatoes across the table or grab that dropped napkin because you can lean whichever way you need to.
So pull up a chair and explore the options as you your new dining room chairs. With this helpful guide, you’ll find the chairs that let your dining room’s character — and your design personality — really shine.