How To's

How to Mix and Match Your Dining Table and Chairs

Tradition dictates that a dining room be furnished with a matching table and chairs. But for something more personal, stylish, playful and modern opt for a mixed set. New chairs, for example, can give an existing modern table a fresh new look and telegraph a bold and distinctive design sensibility.


Editor’s note: We turned to Jeff Schlarb, founder of the San Francisco design and staging firm Green Couch Interior Design, for his expertise at mixing not only diverse materials but also modern and traditional design styles. A clean natural wood table paired with modern hot pink acrylic chairs; an airy plywood-and-metal table grounded with chunky, traditional, felt seating — as Schlarb reveals, the mix-and-match possibilities are endless.

How To Consider Mixing Your Table and Chairs Instead of Matching

Matching is less important than an overall pulled-together aesthetic. Mixing a dining table and dining chairs from different eras, different finishes, and different design styles can help create an approachable elegance that is calming and articulate.

In our own family home, we have a beautiful vintage farm table punctuated by industrial iron chairs with wool hide seat throws. The idea of six different eccentric, vintage chairs intrigues me. However, to balance the eclecticism, I would need to see continuity in the upholstery, artwork, and a knockout console to boot.

Go For Balance and Uniqueness

Whenever we design a room, we want two things to happen in a room: to create interesting content through furniture styles, shapes, textures, finishes, and artistic mediums. And to provide an overall balance and pleasantness that just feels good. If you select cataloged set choices, you’ll likely not get there. A mixed approach, done successfully, will make people stop and consider all of the decisions and materials being combined — much like a great art piece will collect viewer’s attention, probing their curiosity. Matchy McMatcherson has no place in our design world!

Find Strong Pairings that Work Together

I love combining wood with acrylic. The PCHseries Dining Table looks great with the colorful Area51 Chair. I also love mixing metals in a room, such as brushed brass legs on a sofa next to a satin nickel coffee table. It’s a new and interesting way to bring brilliance into a space.

The PCHseries Dining Table looks great with the colorful Area51 Chair.

Start With These Examples of Pairings of Different Tables and Chairs

I like the Reef Dining Table, a unique take on the Saarinen table; it has a really sexy curve that mimics a surfer’s posture. I’d pair it with a set of Standard Chairs by Jean Prouvé in white metal and light wood. It’s a unique and classy combination.

The V.I.P. Chair from Moooi is off the chain! I love the heavy feel of the exaggerated legs, and the felt upholstery combines wonderfully with the bent plywood and marble table top of the Butterfly Table.

The V.I.P. Chair from Moooi + Butterfly Table = wonderful combination!

The Tour Table by Gae Aulenti is so unusual. It reminds me of Katina Huston’s artwork. It’s hard to find a dining chair to go along with this, but I’d select the Moulin Chair with Armrests. They are upholstered with enough massing to counter the fragility of the bicycle spokes, glass, and hardware.

Here’s a fantastic combination: The hard, chunky Berkeley Dining Table combined with the soft yet structured Wicket Side Chair’s upholstery and tufted details. You can further the depth of this design by customizing the fabric, using a trim piece or contrasting welt.

More Classic Pairings that Work Together

Kartell’s Masters chair

We are really fond of this chair at our studio. It pairs perfectly with an elegant, refined contemporary wood table like the Astor.

How to combine with Eames fiberglass or plastic side chairs.

These chairs need more massing and oomph than a glass and metal table affords. I’d opt for the Sigma Drive Extension Table, whose metalwork and large lacquered top complement the chair nicely.

The Lily Dining Table

With its streamlined base, the Tulip chair is a great solution for a leggy dining table like the Lily.

The Saarinen Tulip Table

Pairing the wooden-legged Saarinen Executive Chair may be somewhat predictable, but isn’t it quite nice? This is a great design.

Pairing the Saarinen Executive Chair with the Saarinen Tulip Table may be predictable, but isn’t it quite nice?

The Fan Table from Tom Dixon

This table’s dark base complements the dark Smoke Dining Chair. It’s a beautiful way to bring unexpected yet complementary shapes together to enjoy one another and the overall dialogue.


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