Purchasing table and chair dining sets for dining spaces is the easy way to decorate. However, options to choose pieces individually allow for more flexibility in meeting specific needs in room size and decor. Such things as ceiling height and whether the space is rectangular or square come into play, which will impact what style of chairs look best. While the table remains a centerpiece, it is the surrounding seating that everyone views first, and this important selection requires some thought along with a few practical design techniques.
The Basics of Choosing Arm Chairs and Side Chairs
In earlier days, designers recommended selecting matched sets to create a unified appearance. Today, designers suggest that spaces become personable and even more stylish when tables, chairs and surrounding furnishings are not all the same. Some even suggest that mixing and matching chair styles gives the space greater character, but coordination should always be done with caution.
Some traditions still apply. Rectangular or oval tables by nature most often require armchairs at the ends and armless chairs along the sides. The uses of a dining room also come into play. If it is a space reserved for special occasions and for larger gatherings, this arrangement will work well. Formal spaces also revert to the rule that pieces should all match in finish and style. For more casual dining when family members or guests tend to linger at the table, arm chairs added at the sides will provide more comfort.
Space allowances between side chairs and arm chairs are important for ease of access and for eating or serving. Measurements apply from the center of one seat to the next, giving the smaller widths of side chairs spacing of about six inches apart with a center-to-center length of about two feet. That may seem too confining for less formal occasions. Arm chairs typically feature wider seats and measurement suggestions are 30 inches center to center but no more than 36 inches.
Round or square tables with no defining head or foot easily accommodate either chair style but never a mix of both. Pedestal styles allow for more dining arm chairs while leg tables tend to limit the number of chairs that will fit comfortably. As with any table choice, arm chairs in particular should clear the apron, sliding in for a close fit.
Chair Styles for Large and Small Spaces
The right balance of room size to table and chair styles is critical to creating visual appeal. In larger rooms with tall ceilings, high-backed chairs are excellent choices. Wicker side dining chairs are popular, but trends today include towering back options that reach even higher. The horizon line should also be a mix of high and low profiles that can include china cabinets or hutches instead of mid-height buffet tables.
Smaller rooms, unless the architecture is older, tend to have lower ceilings. That means low-backed chairs will work best. Backs with slatting, splats or other decorative insets create a greater sense of open spaces, especially when paired with glass-top tables. Arm less side chairs also contribute with less bulk, but in a casual space, armchairs, either fully upholstered or with solid, supportive backs, may be a more practical option. In the tightest family dining areas, chairs with casters are ideal as they allow for more crowding while retaining ease of access.
Chairs provide the first hint of a dining space’s styling. In large or small rooms, they should reflect overall decorative character while presenting a formal or casual personality that announces the type of gathering and general ambiance.