For fashion forward individuals, having a dining room where every piece of furniture matches perfectly is about as exciting as having vanilla ice cream for dessert every day. Eclectic is in these days and the “mix and match” look for dining room furniture is very popular in American homes.
Before you invest in a new set of dining room furnishings, there are some things you need to know. This will keep your dining room looking “mix and match” instead of “hit and miss”.
Here are some tips for making the right choices:
Pay attention to design
In a “mix and match” world it’s fine to pair traditional dining chairs with a contemporary table, or to use contemporary chairs with a traditional table. The trick is to match design elements. For example, if your table has cabriole legs, try to find a chair that has the same lines, either on the back or the legs. If you can’t do that, try to choose upholstery for the chair that has some swirls in it. The same is true with tables. If your table is square or rectangular, go with chairs that are square or rectangular as well. You want the shapes to complement each other, especially when the individual pieces are meant to contrast, but not compete.
A standard dining chair width is 22 inches, but there are lots of choices that either larger or smaller than that. No matter what your table looks like, never pick a chair that is smaller than 17 inches wide. Your posterior will become uncomfortable very quickly. If your table is especially large, choose larger chairs to match. Some chairs go all the way up to 24 inches wide. Scale is all-important. You don’t want your chairs to dwarf the table and vice versa. So, make sure the two work well in terms of scaling. Also, check that the chairs aren’t so wide that you can’t seat enough people at the table you have. If you want to regularly seat six, you need a larger table if you want to use 24” chairs instead of 22” chairs.
Getting the Height Right
Height enters into the scale quotient of course. But it also contributes to comfort. Here’s a good rule of thumb. The average dining room chair seat is between 18 and 19 inches from the floor and the average dining room table stands between
29 and 30 inches high. Try to leave a minimum of 12 inches between the top of the seat and the top of the table. This will put your elbows at just the right height while leaving enough room for your legs to swing in and out without rubbing along the bottom of the table.
If you’ve ever tried to gracefully slide a dining chair out from a table only to have it not want to budge, then you know the importance of portability. Chairs with a slat back move pretty easily since you can use the slat as a handle. A chair with a solid back or one that is fully upholstered can be more difficult to get a good grip on, particularly if it’s heavy.
Ideally, you want a chair that is substantial enough to hold you comfortably but easy enough to move with one hand if you have a plate or drink in the other. Carpeting and area rugs can also portability. If you have a covered floor in your dining area, you want to make sure the chairs you are considering move easily on a carpet.
Families with small children should factor them into the mix as well. You want to make sure their chairs are easy to move and won’t tip over accidentally, injuring the child.
No matter how careful you are, eventually something will be spilled on your chairs. The question isn’t whether you’re going to care, but how much you’ll care at the time. If you’re the type to stop a fine meal in its tracks so you can fetch upholstery cleaner, you probably want to stick with leather, Ultrasuede, cotton blends or commercial weaves. They are easy to clean. Those with a heavy nap – chenille and velvet come to mind – will show wear more readily than other choices. If you end up selecting a delicate fabric, find chairs with removable cushions so the fabric can be changed or replaced over time.
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