How to
Choose Dining Room Chairs

While many dining room tables come with matching chairs these days, there are still occasions that might have you searching for a separate set. Maybe you inherited a family heirloom table or stumbled across the perfect fit for your breakfast nook in an antique shop. Maybe you just don’t love the chairs that came with your table or you’re looking to refresh the space with new seating. Whatever the reason, you’ve got lots of options which is why we threw together this guide to find the right dining chairs and create a cohesive look that you love.

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First things first, keep in mind that your chairs don’t have to match your table. They don’t even have to match each other as long as each one sits comfortably under your dining table. If you do choose mismatched chairs, it’s important to make sure the one thing they have in common is that they’re the same height so that you and your fellow diners aren’t looking up or down at each other.

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Regardless, preparation is key. Start by measuring your table to get a good idea of what size your chairs should be. You don’t want to fall in love with a set, only to have the chairs arrive at your home and realize they don’t fit at your table together.

Next, consider how many chairs your table needs to accommodate and whether your table extends, as well as if you plan to keep it extended with a leaf at all times. Think about how many people you plan to feed on a regular or semi-regular basis. Most long rectangular or oval-shaped tables seat six, eight or ten people, while most square or round tables seat four, six or eight diners.

No matter the shape, most tables are around 30" high, and most chairs will have 17" to 19" of space between their seats and your floor. You want at least a foot of space between the top of the table and the chair seat, and you also want your guests to have at least 24" of space to themselves, which includes the width of the chair and about 6" on either side for elbow room so keep this in mind especially if you’re gravitating towards chairs with armrests.

Once you have an idea of the size of the chairs you need, it’s time to decide on a style. Pottery Barn offers a variety of dining room chairs, so browse some examples to determine what might look good in your home. You can choose between open and solid backs, upholstered chairs or chairs made from solid, easy-to-clean materials, such as wood, acrylic, wicker or metal. Keep in mind the size and decor of your dining room when making a selection; you might not want to put a rustic wooden chair in a sleek, contemporary-style room if your home is very modern, but in a more eclectic house that juxtaposition might be exactly what you’re going for.

If you choose upholstered chairs, you have plenty of options. Leather lasts a long time and wears well with age if properly cared for. Cotton and microsuede fabrics come in a wide range of colors and patterns and clean easily in the event of a spill. If you have young children dining with you regularly, that may be important. Also, consider chairs with removable cushions so that you can clean them, replace them if they become damaged or switch them out with the seasons.

Don’t forget about comfort. While chairs with armrests may take up more space, they may be more comfortable in your space. You also want to keep the chairs light so that diners can easily push them in or pull them out from under the table. Cushioned or upholstered backs and seats can also add to your diners’ comfort level.