Decades ago, formal dining rooms were seen as a must in most homes -- it was the main place of entertaining family and friends. Today, that view has changed dramatically, with more informal open-concept combined dining room-living room-kitchens as the most popular layout. If you do have a dining room (or even just a dining room table) but want to give it a less formal, more youthful vibe that still feels cool and collected, mixing dining room chairs is the perfect way to achieve that! Here’s our two (okay, six!) cents:
1) SAME CHAIR, DIFFERENT COLORS
An easy way to bring personality and a sense of casual chic is to use the same chair but in different, complementary colors. This can be relatively easy to do if you’re purchasing a new set of chairs, particularly if they’re contemporary in style and are painted wood, painted steel, or have a plastic or fabric seat. I’d do this with our Lilo Dining Chair in black and natural or any of the colors of this basic walnut stool, letting the chairs be the pop of color in the room.
2) SAME COLOR, DIFFERENT CHAIRS
Alternately, another option that creates the same easy-going but curated vibe is to find different chairs all in the same color. I’ve done this myself by gathering a bunch of wooden chairs I found at garage sales and my grandparents’ house, and then painting them all a single bright color; you can also find different chairs that are all an easy-to-find color, like white or black. You may want to pay attention to the sheen of the finish and the exact color -- off white next to pure white can sometimes look unintentionally dirty, old, or faded -- not the look we’re trying to pull off!
3) HIGHLIGHT THE HOST OR HOSTESS
If you’re not crazy about having each chair be a different color or style, a great way to add emphasis to the chairs at the head and end of the table is to make them distinct from the rest of the seats at the table. This is a great option if you already have a set of chairs, but don’t have enough for a larger table or for when extra guests come. Using two different types of chairs provides just enough variation to keep a cohesive feel at the table while adding some visual interest through a contrast of color, texture, shape, or size.
4) MIX UP RETRO AND CONTEMPORARY
Another way to add easy personality to your dining area is to mix the styles of chairs you gather around the table. Doing this can create drama and lots of visual interest, especially if the shapes are contrasting -- try some curvy mid-century modern inspired chairs with something a little bit more rigid with straight lines, like a traditional spindle-back chair.
5) BENCH IT
When in doubt, lose the chairs and go for benches! This is a great option for a very informal feel, and when you like the idea of being able to squeeze in more people at your table. Just don’t forget the cushions or a throw blanket -- they not only make sitting more comfortable, they’re also a perfect way to add style and color!
6) UNITY IN MATERIALS
Sometimes, the best way to bring together different styles and shapes is not through contrast or the use of the exact same colors, but by a unified textural sensibility. For example, polished concrete, rough-hewn wood, and blackened steel might seem like they wouldn’t work together, especially if tables, chairs and benches don’t all match, but in reality their subtle tones and matte finishes act as a complement to each other - Checkout our Vega Concrete Dining table for inspiration. Rather than competing, each piece brings a sense of tactility and warmth to the table -- literally!
While it might feel like a risk to select different chairs around the same table, it’s actually a great way to decorate on a budget and incorporate pieces you already have, or highlight a few favorites. Ultimately, the key is in subtle differences that maintain just enough unity and consistency to show that the mixing-and-matching of dining room chairs is intentional, and not a mistake!