I’m of the belief that your dining table and chairs should be sisters, not twins. That’s why I’ve decided to write up a post today that’ll show you how to avoid the matchy-matchy look, and instead embrace a more curated approach in your dining room.
That’s what we’re going to delve further into here, because this is a skill few people master. I also know it troubles many of you when shopping. This post comes in direct reply to a callout I did in the TLC Private Facebook Group, asking members what they needed help with the most. So as always, I’ve jumped right onto answering this common dining room conundrum.
By the end of this post my goal is that you truly understand how to match dining table with chairs correctly. And as I often do, I’ve included lots of examples and some ideas you can shop toward the end of the post. Enjoy!
The hero image in this post comes via The Real Estate Stylist.
1. First Things First: Avoid the Package Deal
Stores invented the package deal so shoppers didn’t have to worry about matching dining table and chairs. It was all about removing the stress and indecision. I totally get it. But that approach to design is a bit 1999. And just like double denim and belly piercings, it’s time to move on (I had a belly piercing in my early twenties so I can say that).
The modern approach to design is to do what I call style grazing; take a little from one style aesthetic, a pinch of something else from another vibe, and a dash of a third theme and mix is all together for a well-rounded home. It works, I promise you.
The same goes for your dining room. Purchasing your dining table and chairs in a matching suite tends to give it an uninteresting look and feel.
The Dining Table is Your Starting Point
I always start with the dining table first and then select the chairs that’ll match it best. I lock in the table style, size and material, and then have a good think about the best chair based on functionality, comfort and of course – colour and material.
Chances are you already have a dining table and just need new chairs. If that’s the case, Here’s a list of our fave 60 dining chairs, broken up into different design styles.
To be fair, dining suites have come a long way, so I shouldn’t be too hard on them. If you’re on a budget, they are a great option, just ensure the materials of the table and chairs are different.
The one above is all too much of the one finish. Sorry Amart Furniture. I do love you, but it must be said that soft grey upholstered chairs here would look so much better.
2. Your Table and Chairs Should be Different Materials
So we know you should avoid package deal dining suites, but you should also avoid a table and chairs in the exact same material. For example, an oak dining table with oak dining chairs, or a metal dining table with metal dining chairs.
The example above from a recent episode of The Block illustrates my point perfectly. The scene is just too heavy with all of that timber, and feels way too warm in colour. Thankfully there’s a rug underneath to break up the warm timber tones a bit, but even that’s not enough to save the space.
Avoiding Textural Overwhelm
If you match the materials, your dining room ends up feeling quite texturally overwhelming. You can feel the setting is suffocating the entire space. Instead, you want your room to have visual highs and lows. I know that sounds wanky, but it’s true. As your eye moves across the space, you want it to be stimulated by one moment, and then calmed by another.
So with your dining table and chairs, let one be the star and the other be the supporting player. When they’re in the same material, neither looks as special as it should. It’s like having two supermodels standing side by side. They’re both gorgeous. Stand one next to me and suddenly the model looks far superior!
Curveball Rule Breaker
The exception to the ‘different materials’ rule is if you had a timber table, for example, with timber chairs that featured some upholstery on them. The image above is a good example. See how the coloured fabric breaks up all the timber? This is allowed. If there was no fabric on those chairs, it would be a dealbreaker.
3. They Should Also be Different Colours
Colour in a room is so important to get right, and when matching dining table with chairs it becomes pretty crucial. You might have mixed up the material, but the other thing you need to ensure you do is mix up the colour.
In an ideal world, that is. There are examples of dining rooms where the table and chairs are the same colour and it can work (in a minimal Scandi-vibe home, for example). But I’m going to assume you want your home to feel more layered, so changing up the colour is recommended.
And the colour can be changed ever so slightly. A black table with charcoal dining chairs is a good example, or an oak table with beige chairs. I’m not suggesting you have to have a bold colour by any means, you just don’t want them to feel matchy-matchy. Remember: sisters, not twins!
Curveball Rule Breaker
OK, so your table and chairs can be a similar colour but only if there is a very different material in the mix. The dining room above via Kyal and Kara is a nice example where both the table and chairs are quite warm, but it works because the chairs feature a woven material on the base seat. It gives you enough texture to allow the similar colour to not read as too overbearing.
Also keep in mind in the room above how many other soft textures are at play. It does balance out the hard materials, plus the flooring is a different colour to the table and chairs.
4. Your Flooring Also Comes into Play
Just to throw a curveball into the mix, your flooring colour is another consideration that comes into play when matching dining table with chairs. The biggest mistakes you can make here: the flooring, table and chairs are all very similar in colour.
If this is already happening to you, then a rug is a nice way to break up the potential monotony (if your dining room is large enough to take it – tips on choosing a dining room rug are here for you). The adding in of softness beneath your table is also a great way to reduce the heavy feeling of all those hard textures in a dining setting.
Variance is Key
On hard flooring like timber, I usually never place a timber table of the same colour directly on top. I either choose a different material (glass table, metal table or marble table), or I choose a timber that’s way lighter or darker. The above image via Metricon showcases this point perfectly.
Failing this (if you already have a dining table a similar colour to your floors) introduce chairs in a different colour and soft texture. Remember… variance is key. Variance of colour, material, shape etc.
5. Check the Table Size vs Chair Height
The beauty of buying those outdated package deal dining suites is knowing that the chair height is going to be right. You can literally see them in store, sit at the table and know that it’ll all work together.
But, we know package deals are outdated. So, the one word of warning I can give you around matching dining chairs to your dining table when they’re not from the same store is to measure the size
I’ve seen many examples of dining chairs where the backs are so low they slide right under the dining table when it arrives. Not a good look. To remedy this, make sure you check the height of the chairs you’re considering buying. You want your chairs to be minimum 10cm higher than your table top.
Also Consider the Width of the Chairs
This can undo everything, so you gotta make sure your chair width is appropriate for the size of your table too. If you divide the total length of your table by the width of the chair you’re considering buying, it’ll tell you how many chairs will fit on one side.
But… you also want to allow 10-20cm between the chairs, so factor that into the equation as well. Also keep in mind that some table tops might be 150cm in width, for example, but the distance between the table legs underneath could be less if the legs are inset on the table.
The glass dining table above from our Bentleigh project features inset legs that effect how many chairs you can fit under it, so you have a visual reference there. Some math is involved in getting the chairs to match the table, which is never fun but totally necessary.
Examples of Matching Dining Table with Chairs that Work
Time to give you some examples of the sorts of dining chairs that’ll work with particular table finishes. Given what you’ve learnt about above I reckon this will all start to make more sense now.
Dining Chairs for a Marble Dining Table
Grab the divine Zodiac Dining Table in Marble from Interior Secrets and Pair it with one of the delicious six dining chair options I’ve included below it. Links are below if you like the look of any of these chairs:
Dining Chairs for a Glass Dining Dining Table
A glass dining table like the Olsen Dining Table from Brosa above works so wonderfully with the six chair options beneath it. The links to shop them are below for you.
Dining Chairs for a Timber Dining Table
Loving the look of the Zodiac Dining Table in Timber from Interior Secrets. Pair it with any of these divine dining chair options – they’re all stunners:
Got Any Dining Table & Chair Questions?
It’s kind of impossible to cover off every single situation that might arise when it comes to matching dining table and chairs. So, do feel free to drop me a comment below and I can answer any outstanding questions you might have.
Here’s another awesome idea: come and join my decorating junkies private Facebook group, where members post photos of their rooms and we all give our advice. It’s such a welcoming online community and I reckon you’ll love being a part of it.