How to Mix Dining Chairs and Tables (Pass the Pretty Test) - Chairs (2023)

Do your dining room chairs match your table? There’s a better way to style your dining room. Furniture looks best when it’s coordinated but not matched. Here’s how to mix dining chairs and tables.

I was so excited to spot this (Eames plywood) chair in a secondhand shop for only $50 when I was on the Sunshine Coast with my Mom a couple weeks ago!

When I walked into the store and saw it, I asked how much it was. When they said $50, I looked around for another 30 seconds and then casually said “I’ll take it”.

When the owner loaded it into the car with me, he offered to buy it back for $60, haha.

Then, when I shared it with you on my Insta-Stories, I mentioned that this chair passed the “pretty chair test.” What’s this test, you ask?

How to Mix Dining Chairs and Tables (Pass the Pretty Test) - Chairs (1)

Similar here

Basically, if your chair can sit all by itself in a room and it’s still beautiful, then it passes the pretty chair test.

There are so many NOT beautiful dining chairs out there. Take a peek at your dining room. Would your chairs pass the test?

When I took a poll on Instagram, 55% voted YES and 45% of you said, Nope!

How to mix dining chairs and tables.

Well, I want to help save you from the ugly dining room chair dilemma and for many of you, it starts with the matching dining room set. I’ve received lots of reader questions about how to mix and match dining chairs, so I’m sharing some designer tips with you here.

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Wall Sconce|Tulip Table|Wishbone Dining Chairs

Don’t buy the matching dining set.

Have you ever felt that what you have isn’t right, but you aren’t sure what to buy? THIS is where a designer can save you money (and unnecessary stress)! I’ve said this before, but often the price of a designer pays for the cost of one mistake.

Read more: 23 Decorating Secrets (Only a designer will tell you)

Remember the mid-century modern home I styled for my client a few years ago? She had purchased a counter height dining set (below) – matching chairs and all. She knew it was wrong, but didn’t know what to replace it with.

I see this all the time. Long gone are the days when you walk into a furniture store and choose the entire set – whether it’s a dining room, living room, or bedroom set – it’s just not something you should do. And if you already purchased the matching dining set (oops), keep reading for some ideas on how to make it look better.

Your home isn’t a restaurant, nor should your dining room look like one. You need atmosphere and a look and a feel that reflects your personality and style – and it isn’t created when you buy the entire matching set.

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Oh, and don’t even get me started on counter height bar tables – the feeling of having your legs fall asleep due to lack of circulation while dining at a tall table is not one you want to share with your guests. Trust me.

A countertop height dining set usually works best if there’s a view you wouldn’t see otherwise, while dining.

The point is, your dining room looks best when your tables and chairs look coordinated and not bought as a set. Adding a little contrast in your furniture (either with colour and/or style) is the key to creating a fresher look.

Read more: 6 Mistakes New Decorators Make

Instead, I selected this teak table with a modern, streamlined base and paired it with these lovely turquoise mid-century style chairs. Notice that the end chairs are a different shape than the side chairs.

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Wall Colour: Sherwin Williams Crushed Ice

Eiffel Dining Chairs: Similar Similar Similar | Dining Table

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By mixing this teak table with blue Eiffel chairs (while also repeating the blue and orange colour palette inspired by her art) we added way more personality and style into this dining room. Both the table and chairs have a mid-century vibe but they are clearly not from the same set. (Note: After this refresh, my client couldn’t wait to entertain guests here!)

Pair those same mid-century style chairs with a matching table and the look is much too leggy and stale.

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Again, the key to a more interesting dining room design is a COORDINATED set of dining table and chairs – not a MATCHING one. I love how this eclectic dining room (below) mixes a set of thrifted woven chairs with more modern upholstered end chairs.

How to Mix Dining Chairs and Tables (Pass the Pretty Test) - Chairs (6)

Via Kaleidoscope Living

Add different (prettier) chairs to the ends of your dining table.

Look at any designer magazine or home decor blog and you’ll find the most striking and beautiful dining rooms are the ones where the chairs don’t match the dining table. But, if you already have the set, consider changing out a few of the chairs for a whole new look.

Fresh greens always stand out in a blue colour palette. The pretty green painted wicker chairs (below) plucked at the end of this otherwise matching antique dining set add to the garden ambience set by all the leafy plantings.

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Via @jogalbraithhome on Instagram

Here’s another dining room refresh for one of my clients where we simply replaced the two end chairs with upholstered Parsons style ones. This one small change helped make her dining room feel more collected and less matchy-matchy.

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Similar Upholstered Parsons Chair

There are lots of ideas for making your dining set look more curated. Maybe you keep the set, but consider painting the chairs or the dining table (maybe not both, though).

Update your dining room with these pretty dining chairs.

For the record, not buying the matching dining room set might even save you some money. Whether you are trying to work with what you already have or planning to purchase new dining room furniture, here are some design ideas that mix and match different dining chairs and tables.

Did you inherit a round oak dining table and chairs that you can’t part with? Consider adding some white chippendale chairs instead for an updated look. These chairs definitely pass the pretty chair test, don’t they? I might even add a fifth chair (for extra seating when company is over) and tuck it into a corner of the living room or at a desk, because it would look just as pretty there too.

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Interiors by Elizabeth Boyette

Chippendale Style Side Chairs | Similar Round Oak Table | Similar Brass Chandelier

Here’s a dining room with a traditional and rustic table. And while the table elevates the style in this room, the coastal-style dining chairs give it a more casual nod.

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Via Style at Home | Wall & Ceiling Colour: Ultra Pure White by Behr

Similar Rattan Dining Chairs | Similar Pedestal Table

Here’s another dining room refresh from one of my clients. We added both scale and colour in the form of upholstered wingback chairs for an elegant upgrade to this dining room set. There’s just something regal about mixing wingback chairs in your dining room. By repeating the blue from the art and custom drapery the additional chairs pull this room together.

See more of this house here: 3 Timeless Decorating Trends (that won’t go out of style)

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Wall Colour: Sherwin Williams Agreeable Gray

Similar Wingback Chairs | Similar Trestle Dining Room Table | Similar Dining Chairs

How to get the look.

Here are some different dining chair and table combinations with shopping links to help you restyle your matching dining set like one of the inspiration rooms shown above. Remember, furniture looks best when it’s coordinated, not matching.

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Chippendale Style Dining Chair + Round Oak Dining Table

Rattan Dining Chair + Pedestal Dining Table

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Wingback Chair + Ladder Side Dining Chair + Trestle Dining Table

How many of you have the matching dining room set in your dining room? How about your bedroom. . . did you buy the matching set in there?

I hope this post gave you some inspiration to mix it up a bit. Let me know in the comments below!Oh, and if your chairs don’t pass the “pretty chair” test, then it’s time to let them go!

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In case you’re wondering, yes I do often walk through my garden all dressed up with no place to go! I’m still amazed when I see peach everywhere in fashion. Last time I saw peach was in the 80s.

It’s a long weekend here in Canada, and we’re enjoying in our back yard!

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Most of my smaller eDesign packages are still sold out because of overwhelming demand, and the bigger bundles are still available here. However if you need just a siding or trim colour, or you need to install some stone in your backyard, my Masterclass for Exterior Colour Selection is available to watch anytime (and forever).

This was great! I have just recently purchased a new home that needs a lot of work on the exterior. This course really helped me sort through what decisions should be made and in what order.

Specifically when you talked about what exterior finishes will only come in ‘stock’ colours, like the roof and trims. Really makes sense that you need to have those picked out first. Then on to paint, etc. I also had another ‘aha moment’ during your stone module. And it totally confirmed that I probably do not need to add stone to the house, it needs to be considered in the landscaping. This course was absolutely worth the investment.

I think you totally nail what everyone is looking for when upgrading their exterior. They want the end result to be something fresh and timeless, not trendy.

Get it here.

Related Posts:
My New Dining Room Botanical Artwork (What a Difference)
Don’t Make this Common Mistake When Choosing an Accent Chair
Ask Maria: Must my Kitchen Coordinate With the Dining Room?



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Author: Tyson Zemlak

Last Updated: 03/16/2023

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