A Buyer's Guide To Dining Chairs

Posted by Out & Out on 7th Mar 2022

Whether used for breakfast or a dinner party, dining chairs not only have to be comfortable, but they also must withstand years of kids’ sticky fingers and adult behinds.

Comfort Vs Style Vs Strength

When shopping for chairs, most of us undoubtedly consider what they look like before we give much thought to how comfortable they are. Ensuring you get the comfort factor, durability and quality paired well with how nice they look in your dining space is a must! Here’s how to do so.

Which Style?

Whether you’re a lover of contemporary or traditional seats, there are a few basic design rules that you should consider:

For a formal dining room look, opt for high backed chairs, such as our Berson Dining Chair. Remember, high-backed chairs also take up more space visually.

For open-plan or smaller spaces that you want to make feel bigger, low-backed chairs are a better choice. For a relaxed look, pick a low-backed chair like the Bojan chair.

For a traditional, rustic look, think wooden or rattan chairs, such as our Maya Set of Two High Back Rattan Chairs, which is perfectly suited as conservatory furniture. Wood and metal chairs such as our Brunel chair suit an industrial style dining area, while moulded plastic chairs look better in very contemporary rooms.

Considering Comfort

When purchasing dining chairs, consider not only the comfort level but everyone who will extensively use them. Ask yourself these questions to help you get it right:

Does the seat have the right proportions?

Ideally, the seat itself should be at least 45cm-55cm wide, deep enough to comfortably support the thighs of even the tallest family member, and 45cm-48cm high.

Do you want a soft or hard seat?

If you like a leisurely meal, you’ll want a firm seat with some give in it, therefore consider an upholstered or webbed seat option.

Armrests or no?

If you tend to sit at the table for a long time, you’ll find armrests a bonus. If your dining space is tight and meals are rushed, do without them.

How will my back be support?

What feels comfortable for one person may not be the same case for another, so it’s worth knowing if you prefer a low or high-backed dining chair before you buy. Ideally, the backrest should follow the natural curve of your back.

Will the chairs last?

If you’d love for your dining chairs to withstand years of wear and tear, here’s what to consider:

Can you clean it easily?
Most chairs should be durable and wipeable, even leather and faux leather, although these might need special cleaning products.

Can covers be removed and washed?
If you’re interested in fabric-covered chairs, loose or removable covers are a practical solution, as they can either be dry-cleaned or popped in the washing machine.

Check the quality of the foam used in an upholstered seat. A low-density foam will flatten over time, whilst quality padded seats will be more resilient as well as more comfortable.

Chairs with woven or webbed coverings can suffer from wear and tear if not well made, a design that pays attention to how these materials are affixed to the chair’s frame will last longer over time.

For wooden chairs, examine the joins carefully. Traditional, all-timber joins made by a skilled craftsperson should be as strong as any metal join. One of the advantages of wooden furniture is the variation you can get, including the colour, grain, knots, and burrs - each piece is truly individual. The colour of the wood can alter as it ages, and this is something to also bear in mind when buying.

To ensure the chair is highly made, chairs should sit firmly on their feet and not rock or wobble.

5 key questions you should always ask:

  1. Are the chairs the right height for the table they’ll be paired with?
    You may assume they are if they’re sold as a set but if you’re buying them separately, you need to double-check the measurements! Dining tables tend to have a standard height of 75cm, but not all do, so always check beforehand.
  2. Have you bought the correct number of chairs?
    If your dining space is small, and you’ll only use four chairs daily, buy two or more foldaway or stackable chairs and store them somewhere handy. This way, you’ll keep the room feeling as spacious as possible while still having enough seating when you need it.
  3. Will the chairs come ready-assembled or will you need to assemble them at home?
    Always ask before you commit to buying.
  4. How are the chairs sold?
    Some chairs are sold as a full set; some are sold in pairs and others are sold singly.
  5. Is there a guarantee?
    Find out how long the chairs you intend on buying are guaranteed for before you buy them.

Head over to our chairs and dining sets pages to see the full range, don’t forget to check out our Pinterest boards for more design inspiration.

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