Do Dining Chairs Have to Match?
As humans, we’ve got a tendency to want to match things – our socks, for one! We learn from a young age that certain things just work better in pairs, or are designed to match along a specific colour scheme. When it comes to furniture, though, some love to coordinate, whereas others prefer to select varied pieces along one curated theme or style.
If you take a look at the chairs in your house, and in particular, those around surfaces, chances are that they’re all the same. We’d even take it one step further and guess that they match the table… right? Just because this is commonplace, though, it doesn’t mean it’s a hard and fast design rule. There are certainly ways to incorporate a little flair into your dining room, and one of those ways is through mixing up your pieces.
If you’re wanting to shake it up (or are searching for a reason to), here are our tips.
To match or not to match?
Since we’re all conditioned to love matching, what’s the point of breaking the mould? Well, if that’s your thinking, then perhaps you’re just one of the many of us who’s destined to follow design tradition, which is perfectly fine! For a very clean, coordinated and natural look, dining chairs that match one another is definitely the way to go. To create some excitement, perhaps look to stray from the old dining table and chairs set, and pick up a table that isn’t perfectly matched.
If you’re feeling like a design rebel, though, you’ve also got the option of varying the chairs you are placing at the one table. The golden rule here is all about balance – stray the course a bit, but know when to rein it in. The human mind likes patterns, so this isn’t an opportunity to go completely wild, but rather your chance to show off some personality in a subtle way.
How do I select mismatched dining chairs?
Sold on getting a bit creative? It’s all about doing it in a way that feels cohesive and chic, so don’t start picking up pieces in a whole range of colours and styles. Rather, select one element of your chair of choice to vary.
The first way you can mix it up is through colour. You’ll want to keep the base colours along the same lines, so if your chair is made of wood, stick to the same tones. However, the upholstery is where you can get a bit fancy. Perhaps half or most of your chairs are grey, but you select two accent chairs in an identical style to place on either end of the table.
You can also coordinate chairs in an on-off pattern (the mind likes patterns, remember!), like black-white-black-white. Try not to use more than two colours, or three at most, and tie everything back to the table you’re adding seating to. The colours you select should be present in the room somehow, whether that’s through decor or other furniture pieces.
You can also create some variety when it comes to style. You might select wooden chairs for the majority and opt for a few metal pieces in a similar colour scheme to round things out. If you’re playing with style, be sure to keep texture and colour in mind as the factors that tie everything together. Ground the mismatched chairs with other elements in the space, such as lighting, soft furnishings and decor.
Pro tip: Always consider placement when working with mismatched chairs at the same table. Although quirky and random might be the vibe you’re going for, there still needs to be a modicum of order. Try bookending the table with your alternate chairs, or styling them on-off as mentioned earlier. Focus on keeping things even and rational to offset the difference in style or colour.
What about a mismatched dining chair and table set?
For those not brave enough to go the full monty with mixed-up dining chairs, contrasting (yet still cohesive!) chairs and tables might be the way to go. Once upon a time, we were encouraged to purchase strictly matching sets. Although this is still a great option for those who love sleek styles, it isn’t necessary anymore – it’s far more common to purchase your table and chairs separately.
The rule here is commonality, either between the two pieces or with other elements in the space. For instance, you could opt for a mid-toned wooden dining table with black metal chairs, as long as there were black accents in the space to include the chairs in the overall design. These accents could be on the table itself (legs, embellishments or even decor styled on the table) but they could just as easily be from other elements in the room.
Once you’ve found your common ground, everything else is open to interpretation – almost any table could be styled with any set of chairs, within reason. If you’re not sure how to mix it up and find yourself gravitating back to the matchy-matchy, here are a few things to consider varying.
Keep a consistent colour scheme (e.g. whites, dark wood, light wood) and instead play with texture and material. For instance, pair a wooden table with fabric upholstered chairs, or a marble table with metal chairs. This adds depth and dimension to the room and the table setting itself.
It might seem a little outlandish to mix things up by style, but trust us for a sec. Certain styles have their subsets, and others tie in well with one another – Hamptons and coastal, classic with French provincial and so on. You can get away with pairing a different table and chairs if you stay within these like-minded groups, as they’ll have lots of similarities. Try to keep certain elements of the pieces similar while you vary others.
Of course, there’s always the option of purchasing a matching or near-coordinating table and chairs ‘set’, but in different colours. As long as they live in the same colour space (i.e. warms, cools, neutrals) then you can switch up colour to your heart’s content. A light wood table may pair really well with whitewashed chairs, or a dark table with a colourful accent chair
How to choose your dining table and chairs
So, with all this in mind, where should you start? First, make a clear choice on which element you’ll be varying – the table and chairs within your dining set, or the chairs themselves. Then, it’s always a good rule to start with the larger, more focal piece, which in this case is the dining table.
There are so many things to weigh up when you’re choosing out a dining table, but here are a few to keep in mind:
- Functionality: Will this be the right fit for my family and how we use our dining table? Consider how many people regularly eat at the table, whether you’ll need to host guests, whether the table has any other uses (e.g. doing homework, playing board games) and how often the dining table is used.
- Shape: Does this dining table fit easily in my room, with ample space to walk around and go about daily tasks? Will the shape impact my use of the table? What about the style of the room – can I tie shape into this?
- Weight, height and size: Does our family’s lifestyle warrant any variations or considerations in terms of weight, height and size? Will this affect how I purchase or place my chairs?
- Style: Consider the rest of the room and what’s already been established stylistically. How can I tie this piece in with the existing design choices in this room? Is there a feeling or aesthetic I want to convey?
As you ask yourself these questions, certain things will start to emerge that will guide your decisions. If the dining table is used regularly and you’re a huge fan of hosting dinner parties and game nights, you’re probably going to opt for something spacious that gives you the most surface area possible. For those who are couch diners (aren’t we all... ) maybe something smaller and circular will do the trick.
Once you’ve sorted out your choice of dining table, select your chairs accordingly. With your new knowledge of all things matched and mismatched in mind, you’ll find the process of adding some flair to your dining space a simple one.
Ultimately, when you’re deciding which chairs and table will have a place in your dining room – whether they’re same-same or uniquely varied – it comes down to your personal instincts and sense of fun and flair. Everyone is different, especially when it comes to taste, so trust your designer’s gut and get down to picking out the perfect spot for your next long lunch or relaxed dinner party.
If tables and chairs are on the brain, shop Brosa’s wide range of dining room furniture. Once you’ve selected your new pieces, we’ll deliver them to your door with Australia-wide shipping.