Choose Chairs for Your Dining Table

Don’t pass on a stunning dining table just because it doesn’t come with chairs. Your table and chairs don’t have to match. Your chairs do need to suit your table’s scale and style. Here’s how to choose chairs for your dining table:

 

SCALE

For comfort, the respective scales of your dining table and chairs must be compatible.

If you measure from the top of the table to the floor, most dining tables range from 28 to 31 inches high; a 30 inch height is the most common.

From the top of the seat to the floor, dining chairs frequently range from 17 to 20 inches high. That means the distance between the seat and tabletop could be anywhere from 8 to 14 inches.

The average diner finds a distance of 10 to 12 inches the most comfortable, but it varies by the thickness of the tabletop, the height of the apron, and by the size of the diner.

 

Chair Seat Height

To find the seat-height-to-table-height distance you find comfortable, test a table (or tables) with a mix of different chairs.

You can visit a furniture store with lots of kitchen and dining sets on display. Or, simply pay attention to your comfort level when you dine out. Keep a small measuring tape in your purse or pocket so you can note the exact distance when you find one that fits.

Don’t just measure from table’s top to the seat. If the table doesn’t have an apron, measure from the bottom of the tabletop to the top edge of the chair seat.

If the table has an apron, measure from the bottom of the apron to the top of the seat.

Note whether the chair seat is hard or upholstered. Upholstered seats tend to compress when you sit. If the padding is thick, the compression may be substantial. To get an accurate reading, measure from the top of the upholstered seat to the floor while the chair is empty, and then have someone measure it again while you sit.

Add the difference between the two to your ideal table-to-seat distance.

Tip: If you visit a furniture store to test different chair and table heights, tell the salesperson what you’re doing so she doesn’t lose her spot on the “up” list.

 

Chair Width and Depth

Scale isn’t just about compatible heights. You also need chairs that actually fit under your table. If they don’t, your diners won’t feel comfortable and you’ll damage both table and chairs.

The chairs you place at each end of a rectangular or oval dining table should slide under the table without bumping into the table legs, or into the base of a pedestal or trestle table. Those guidelines also apply to every chair you use with square and round tables.

If you plan to use two or more chairs on each long side of the table, make sure there’s room to slide them underneath with bumping each other or the table’s base or legs. If the chair seats touch, diners feel cramped and uncomfortable close. The same is true for round tables; leave at least two inches of space between each chair.