How to Buy The Best Dining Chairs

The dining room is a central gathering point in your house and choosing the right furniture is an important part of making it feel like your home. Your dining room table choice is going to be the biggest influence on what dining room chairs you will want.  Be sure to read our guide on buying a dining room table as well to ensure that you are well-informed and can make an educated decision.

Microfiber Parsons Side ChairCoordinating With Your Table

Most of the time, there will be suggested dining chairs to go along with your dining table but you can also mix and match for a more eclectic look. If you purchase your dining chairs separately from your dining table, be sure the sizes work together. Most dining tables are 29 to 30 inches tall, and you want about 12 inches from seat to the top of the table. Look for dining chairs that are 18 to 19 inches tall for standard height tables. A seat width of 20 to 24 inches will be most comfortable, but other width sizes can be stylish if they fit the scale of your table.

(Pictured: Intercon The Lofts Parson's Side Chair - Microfiber)

Who Will Be Using It?

No matter if you are looking for a dining set for everyday or just occasional use, you are going to want a table and chairs that are comfortable. The shape, size, and weight of your dining chairs are going to be essential in deciding what will be best for your needs. For tall people, narrow chairs with a low back are going to be extremely uncomfortable, just as high-back tall chairs are not going to suit petite people. Heavy dining room chairs will be frustrating for children to pull out from the table. Another determining factor in comfort is intended use. For instance, if your dining room acts as a home office as well then low-back side chairs are not going to provide the best support for long work sessions.

Measure the Room

It's important to have the exact measurements of the room for your dining table and chairs. This is especially crucial with smaller dining rooms, as many people buy tables that are too big for the space. For example, a rectangular table in a small rectangular room can easily fill up the space and make it look cramped instead of cozy. Remember that you have to be able to walk around the table after chairs have been put into place so it's good to at least a 36" space between the edges of the table and the walls all around. You should leave at least 48” between the entrance of the dining room and table to leave enough space for people to comfortable enter and exit the room. Even if you already have a dining table and are just looking for new chairs, you still are going to need to take measurements to ensure the chairs will fit comfortably within the space of your dining room.

Check the Furnishing Dimensions

The most critical part of measuring when choosing dining room chairs to go with a table is ensuring the heights works well together. Most dining tables are consistent with the standard height range of 28"-30" tall. The most comfortable dining tables leave enough room above the knee and are at about the same level as your elbows when you're sitting down. This is more of a concern with arm chairs and a general rule is to leave about 7” between the arms and edge of table. You should also leave 24” between each chair to give guests enough room to easily get in and out from the table without getting in the way of other guests.

Side ChairCheck the Furniture Measurements

Carefully check the furniture measurements. Don’t just assume that the piece can fit where you want it to go; pictures can be deceiving. When you measure the room, make sure you double check the measurements for the length and the width of the furniture. In addition, make sure that doorways and hallways won’t cause any problems.

Think about how the furniture will get into the room, and if necessary, ask for a second opinion about bringing the furniture into your home. A friend bought an enormous couch for an upstairs sitting room. When the furniture was delivered, however, he discovered the couch couldn’t fit around a bend in the stairwell.

(Pictured: Steve Silver Delano Side Chair)


You can get dining chairs in almost any color or material to suit the style of your dining room. It’s really dependent on who will be using your dining room and how often you will be using the room. If your dining room is a multi-purpose room, such as for homework or laptop area, then a more casual style might be what you need. Usually a formal dining room is not going to feel as “homey” and is only going to be used for special occasions. 

Shape and Scale

Generally speaking, dining chairs are going to be a small scale. However, this is relevant to the type. Side chairs are going to be the most space conscious, aside from a dining bench, as opposed to dining chairs with arms. Parsons chairs are going to be a good choice as well for those who want to save space but still make a big impact. The narrow seat and tapered back give it a more commanding appearance while still being a good choice for smaller dining rooms. Side chairs with tall back are another great choice for high-style and small spaces. Make sure that the scale is appropriate for the dining room – you don’t want something that is going to feel overpowering or underwhelmed. As noted above, if you have children, heavy chairs may not be the best choice for getting in and out of on their own. If you have a casual rectangular table, you could opt for a dining bench instead of many individual chairs. Just note that benches are a good option when you have kids using the dining table everyday – it’s not the best choice for adults since there usually isn’t back support and doesn’t give a lot of personal space.

Fabric Back Side ChairChoose Chair Materials

The materials of dining chairs are just as important as what the table is made of. Many dining chairs come with upholstered seats, which are comfortable, but are also likely to be spilled on eventually. If you want a material that can be cleaned easily, consider buying upholstered dining chairs in fabrics such as leather, microfiber, or cotton. Heavier fabrics like velvet look and feel luxurious, but will require more work to clean. Wood chairs can usually be cleaned with commercial furniture polish. You can also find dining chairs in other materials, like metal, acrylic, or heavy-duty plastics. For information on individual chairs, it is best to contact a retailer and they can provide cleaning specifics from the manufacturer.

(Pictured: AICO Imperial Court Fabric Back Side Chair)


Editorial Assistance by Home Gallery Stores Staff