Learn how to buy the right dining room chair with this buying guide setting out 19 types of dining room chairs.
Welcome to today’s guide to purchasing new dining room chairs! We’ve put together a superb collection of chairs in every stripe of design, style, and build, to help steer you toward the perfect option for your life and your home.
We will be detailing a wide variety of chairs, breaking the choices down by a few key categories. The top-featured chair above is a classic Parsons chair.
Follow along as we explain in detail the various designs, frame and seat materials, and style options available for modern dining room chairs. We thoroughly explain the various strains of each category, giving you the knowledge needed to make the best purchase possible.
Table of Contents
1. Side Chair
Our first design is the most common chair seen in kitchens and dining rooms throughout the world, the side chair. This is a standard dining chair without arms, and our wood frame example features an arched back and plain wood seat.
2. Parsons Chair
First created in the 1930s, the original design sought to retain function and comfort while stripping away excess ornamentation and other historical influences that tended to dominate the furniture designs of the time. The end result was a simple chair with clean lines that would fit nicely into just about any area of the home.
3. Arm Chair
The armchair features, as one would guess, arms, in addition to the traditional side chair design. Although the frame style can morph the way the arms appear on the chair, the most common design, as pictured here, attaches the arms to the back and seat via narrow pieces.
Independent from the frame in many cases, the seat material of a dining chair defines how it feels when in use, and how it looks when being displayed. Comfort is always a factor, as is the visual sense. Each of these models exemplifies its particular type of seat material, to best help you decide on what works best in your home.
Upholstered seats are the most comfortable option, with a soft texture and cushioned bottom. Upholstered seats can be found on any and every type of frame, either matching or contrasting with the rest of the chair.
Wood frame chairs often come unadorned with upholstery. Instead, they may sport a molded wood seat, for a more direct, minimal look, while still offering comfort and style.
Metal seats most often appear on metal frame chairs with holistic designs. Our example chair, for instances, is entirely crafted from a single material, with the molded seat seamlessly rising from the frame.
Leather seat dining chairs are incredibly popular for good reason: they offer the comfort of a typical upholstered chair, with the rich sheen and luxurious quality that only leather can imbue.
Wicker is a general definition for a type of woven fabric or synthetic material. It’s pliant, tough, and richly textured, and makes a great seating material.
Plastic seating typically only arrives within a plastic frame, when it comes to dining chairs. These models can range from budget options all the way to ornate, crystalline constructions like our pictured example.
Now we take a close look at the categories of frame materials available to the modern dining chair consumer.
Dining chairs with wood frames are by far the most popular models you’ll find when shopping. The most traditional build material is also the most varying, offering a wide range of styles and shapes.
Metal frames often appear on more modern creations but can be found holding any variety of seat in the dining room. Our featured example is a sort of retro design, with colored leather upholstery over a chromed metal frame.
Wicker frames are most commonly found on dining chairs meant for patio use, but the durable material can reach into the upper levels of luxury, depending on build quality and style. Our featured example showcases a hybrid wood and wicker design, with an upholstered cushion seat.
Plastic frames may seem like a more low-end option, but that is simply no longer the case. Our featured example chair is a unique, highly detailed creation boasting multiple hues and finely detailed shape.
Traditional style typically offers a detailed, rich texture, with carved wood construction. These chairs, like any traditional furniture, are basically timeless, with details make up for a lack of freshness with eternally popular flair.
Shaker style is a very specific strain of utilitarian, minimalist design. These chairs, equipped with a “ladder back,” are designed to be hung up when not in use. Our example shows off the flat angles and unfussy touches common in this style.
Modern style concerns itself with a perfect blending of form and function, with minimal embellishments and beautiful minimalism. Our example is a Parson chair with curved wood back.
The rustic style evokes a pastoral, old fashioned sense through unpolished natural wood, rough-hewn edges, and playfully loose design. Our featured chair consists of “log” style frame with patterned upholstered seat.
Coastal is a style, as the name implies, meant to evoke a seaside feeling. Lighter tones, unstained wood, and a relaxed air come into play with these chairs, as seen in our example below.
Contemporary design, covering any and all styles currently new and thriving, is a loose term that can point to a wide range of chairs. Our featured example is a minimalist, curved wood design contrasting old fashioned materials with up to date shaping.
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