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The Ultimate Guide to Dining Chairs | Dining Room Chair Styles | Types of Dining Chairs
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Guide to Best Dining Chairs

July 06, 2020
Guide to Best Dining Chairs

Stylish Dining, Casual Dining, Durable Dining, Comfortable Dining, Romantic Dining, Family Dining, Dinner Party Dining…

The way that we live and eat varies and as a result there are a gargantuan amount of dining chair options to choose from. So where does one begin to narrow down these options from an endless list of possibilities?

It’s important to consider your needs first and foremost – from a practical standpoint over aesthetics. What you want from your dining chair? Comfort, style, durability, longevity, all of the above? Once you have established this you can then consider which style of chair will work best with the rest of your interior.

Dining chairs help to set the tone of a dining room, the best way to determine the type of chair that’s best for your household is to know the options. We have compiled a comprehensive list of the most popular types and style of chairs available, to help you decide what will work best for your needs and for your style. Below are some of our favourites.


Guide to Dining Chairs Arm Chairs

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Arm Chairs

Dining chairs with arms can provide a more formal look and offer the maximum level comfort, but work best with larger format dining tables in a larger dining area. To sit comfortably seats require about 60cm between them to avoid hitting elbows, so check you have the space to achieve this before option for a dining chair with arms.

If you love the look of an arm chair but don’t have the space to accommodate them, an arm chair can be place at each end of the dining table and side chairs placed along the full length of the table.

Image via Dezeen

Side Chairs

Side Chairs work better in smaller spaces as they take up less room. If you have a smaller dining area, assess how many chairs you will require and what size table you can fit within your dining space. If space is tight an armless dining chair is the best option.

For smaller rooms, the proportions of a low-back chair will offer a sense of space, while a high-back chair will provide a stunning formal look for larger dining areas.

Guide to Dining Chairs Scandinavian

Image via Ikea

Bench Seating

Bench seating can look lovely teamed with dining chairs one side and a bench the other. A bench helps to create a more streamlined look, adds visual interest and and is a great space saving solution as the bench can be tucked away under the table when not in use. In addition, a bench is usually more economical than buying separate chairs. If desired, seat pad cushions can be added for colour and softness.

Ladder-Back / Shaker

Another self-explanatory chair – the ladder-back features horizontal slats at the back in the form of a ladder. The shaker on the other hand, features vertical slats. Both are ver traditional styles, offering support for the back without the solid, heaviness of a parsons chair for example. Perfect for wood or metal varieties, these chairs are also often light-weight.

Image via Gallery Kursi


The windsor shape is a classic english style with a bowed or curved back and a spindled back and legs. There are many variations of this style, and it can come with or without arms. We love Windsor chairs for their dainty nature – perfect for matching with an antique or glass top table.

Dining Chair Materials

Image via Design Milk


The most classic dining chair material, wood is a fantastic material to choose. Whether you’re matching it with a custom table, going for an antique, or sanding down and polishing up some recycled timber, wooden chairs offer a brilliant depth of tone and texture. Dozens of joinery techniques from Japanese to English deliver a wide variety of shapes, styles and finished looks. Whilst it’s extremely satisfying to match the exact wood of your table and chairs, mixing different grains and wood varieties between table and chairs can offer textural variety in the room, and allow you to play with style and mood.

Dining Chairs Guide Metal

Image via Pinterest


Great for an industrial or modern look, metal chairs can range from rustic steel to rose gold refinement. For those lucky ones without excess padding on the behind, a cushion may be necessary on a metal chair for comfort. Whilst these are perfect for outside, be careful that they don’t appear cold or harsh inside. Add cushions or choose warm, interesting shades of metal.


Plastic may be reminiscent of those cheap, white beachside things that groan menacingly as you lower yourself onto them, however it can be a versatile and interesting material for chairs. Plastic allows a variety of shapes in chairs not possible with natural materials. Think acrylic ghost chairs, crazy backs or the classic mid-century tulip chairs (more below). Plastic chairs are great for those with little ones, placing outside or for a fun and fresh look.

Image via pinterest/inoutdesignblog


A personal favourite of the team, wicker or rattan is redolent of family holidays and mid-century southern elegance at it’s finest. Making an almighty comeback, wicker and rattan are omniscient throughout fashion as well as interiors. Ensure you get good quality wicker however, as there’s nothing worse than fraying rattan appearing all over your clothes. The gorgeous camel shades of these materials pair beautifully with crisp whites or inky navies and greens.

Guide to Dining Chairs Fully Upholstered

Fully Upholstered vs. Non Upholstered

A dining chair with an upholstered seat and back is certainly going to provide a much higher level of comfort than an non-upholstered chair. However, a fully upholstered chair can sometimes appear visually heavier than a chair which has an open back. If you have a smaller space you wish to lift and brighten it, a good compromise is to opt. for a dining chair with just an upholstered seat.

Another important consideration is durability, if you have a growing family with grubby little fingers (or big fingers), then an upholstered option can still work if you choose a leather or vinyl upholstered chair, but unfortunately a fabric chair just won’t cut it.

Classic Chair Styles:

Guide to Dining Chairs Mid Century Modern

Mid-Century Modern / Retro

A blast from the past but an ever popular one! We love this style for its funky, fun and not-too-serious aesthetic. Mid-century modern and retro styles are appreciated for their ”form follows function” ethos.

This style combines traditional materials, such as wood, with non-traditional materials such as metal, glass, vinyl, plywood or Plexiglass in a vast range of color, ranging from a neutral palette to bold, and a graphic use of black and white.

Look for designers such as Charles Eames and his wife Ray Eames, George Nelson, Eero Saarinen, Harry Bertoia, Arne Jacobsen, Eileen Gray, Isamu Noguchi, Verner Panton or Alexander Girard.


A style that is renowned for its functional yet stylish simplicity and beautiful craftsmanship, Nordic design has had a major influence in Australia and it is here to stay!

This style tends to ‘borrow’ from the Mid-century Modern look, however, in the form of white or blonde timbers only. Upholstery is kept light and natural. Often a sheepskin seat pad is added to all wooden chairs for comfort, softness and texture.

Alternatively chairs with an upholstered seat in neutral fabrics is very popular. Look for designers such as Hans J Wegner, Arne Jacobsen and Charles Eames.

Guide to Dining Chairs Industrial


The Industrial style brings a raw, unfinished aesthetic to even the most carefully designed modern home and is an extremely popular look for converted lofts and warehouses.

This highly functional and hard-wearing style has a very utilitarian feel. It showcases vintage, recycled looking objects in neutral tones with timber and metal surfaces.

Image via Home Designing

French Provincial

This style’s history stem’s from the 1700’s from regions in countryside provinces of France. Picture lovely quaint farmhouses and fragrant lavender fields. Ahh just dreamy…

The characteristics of this style of furniture is somewhat rustic that is practical but is blended with a refined elegance such as Baroque elements. Think light coloured or painted white timber and a soft muted colour palette with natural fabrics such as linen.

Hampton’s Style

The Hampton’s Style has risen from the popular coastal area of Long Island, New York. A playground for the rich and famous, this style is timeless; encompassing a ‘classy’, ‘beachy’ vibe with a relaxed neutral palette that includes accents of cool blues and calm greens with oak washed flooring.

Whilst the Hampton’s style shows similarities to the French Provincial, Hampton’s style is less ornate and delicate. It balances an ‘old with new’ to create an eclectic mix of furniture that can also include heavy solid oaks and wicker or cane furniture that reflects a more coastal vibe.

Guide to Dining Classic Romantic

Classic Romantic

A style that will remain forever timeless. We distinguish the classic romantic style with a prettier, elegant aesthetic that would suit a room with candelabras and chandeliers, yet can still introduced to a reasonably modern interior.

Think velvet upholstery with deep buttoning or stud details, or styles like the classic Philippe Stark ‘Ghost’ chair.

Feeling ready to explore further? Shop more Dining Chairs and Benches.

*This article was originally written by Sarah Radhanauth in August 2016, and was last updated July 2018 by Elizabeth den Dulk. *

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