say the dining room is dead ó we say it has already
been reincarnated. The key detail that makes todayís
dining rooms up-to-date?A chic, savvy mix of chairs.
be told, the age of using one type of anything ó
fashion, bedroom furniture, tableware ó feels so
a mix ó which in the dining room might include a bench
or stools ó adds spark to a room that was historically
tradition-bound and off limits except for holiday meals
find that regardless of the style of a dining room,
mixing the chairs adds personality and individuality to
the traditionally formal and stoic dining room
arrangement," says designer Kristie Barnett, owner
of The Decorologist in Nashville, Tenn.
did the trend come from? Some, like Chicago designer
Julia Buckingham, point to a less strait-laced approach
in interiors. "I never show clients a matching set
of chairs any more," says Buckingham.
Laura Gaskill credits bloggers and homeowners posting
their own room solutions online as a source of this
undecorated look. Others think it comes from having less
space, which means a room canít be reserved just for
dinner. The dining room must work for all meals ó and
sometimes also be an office for adults and homework
center for kids.
demands make the case for less traditional seating.
Chairs can come from traditional upscale furniture
showrooms, flea markets, a family attic or eBay.
Whatever the source, try these ideas to concoct a good
head chairs upholstered in the same fabric, mixed with
different flanking side chairs
in similar styles, but in different colors is a look
look thatís easy to achieve using classics that now
come in a rainbow of happy hues. Josh Ingrime and
Kristina Albaugh, co-owners of Hundred Mile in
Rhinebeck, N.Y., like Carl Hansen & Sonís Hans
Wegner Wishbone chair for this purpose. "Itís a
matter of balancing functionality and creativity,"
says Albaugh. "Especially in a smaller space, we
try to utilize various types of chairs that are
compatible so that they can be used in different areas
of the home, say, perhaps, a desk chair that can double
as extra seating at the dining table." Herman
Millerís Eames molded plastic side chairs offer the
same flexibility. Lina Nordqvistís Family Chairs offer
a slight twist on this idea with different colors and
varied takes on a Swedish stick-back chair, says
architect Stephanie Horowitz of ZeroEnergy Design
complete mix of completely different types of seating
Gilbert of Embrace My Space advises restricting the mix
to three styles. "To use more may look like youíve
raided the Mad Hatterís Tea Party. You can pick up a
set of chairs from a flea market that need some love,
and paint them in coordinating shades," she says.
Others, like Matthew Lanphier of MJ Lanphier Interior
Design in Los Angeles donít limit the variety but pick
chairs that each make an iconic statement. "It has
to be strong enough to stand on its own. One could have
great arms; one a curved back. When different guests
with different personalities approach the table, theyíll
go and sit in the chair that speaks to them," he
your choice, once youíve picked the seats youíll
offer, you can focus on the fun youíll have around the
table ó which is what decorating is really about.
forget to choose chairs that are comfortable:
seats that are firm enough for sitting yet comfortable,
for chairs that are tall enough, so they donít cut
into peopleís backs.
seat heights between 17 and 19 inches off the floor, so
when people sit down theyíre not at terribly different
widths relatively similar, though end chairs may be
bigger than side chairs.