Mixed and matched dining room seating plays up the fabulous menagerie of accent chairs on the market right now. It also taps into the fine art of eclecticism, which is the name of the design game lately. That yummy curated style you see on Pinterest? Those rooms that pair retail finds with antique scores and magically just work? That's eclecticism.
Chairs that are too similar can come off as near misses. Make it apparent that you're creating a collection by varying the shape, scale, and material. There's a fine line between mixed and mismatched, though. Try it by mixing chairs with and without arms, chairs with rattan and metal, or chairs with high and low backs. You can do it: Trust your instinct.
Contrast is good and well, but the secret is to find chairs that have something in common, such as a similar style. If you're going for cottage, pair wicker chairs with farmhouse benches. For traditional, post the heads of your table with plush upholstered chairs. Then line the sides with Chippendale-style side chairs that have fabric-covered seats to coordinate with the upholstered chairs.
Scope out different departments for dining chairs. A fab upholstered accent chair made for the living room can be right at home in the dining room. Pay close attention to the seat height. Often, arm chair heights are lower than standard dining chairs. You don't want your chin in your dinner plate, so take along a tape measure when shopping and read the dimensions carefully when buying online.
You're not done with that tape measure yet! You might find a chair you love, but if six (eight, 10, etc.) won't fit comfortably around your table and provide enough elbowroom for diners, your great chair might become a great pain. Measure your dining room table length to ensure your pieces will fit around it. Note the placement of any legs and how they affect chair placement -- or the comfort of dinner guests' knees when seated. Also take the dimensions of your room. You’ll want to make sure your new chairs leave enough walkway space around the perimeter not only when chairs are tucked in but also when guests are seated.
Is the chair easy to move and lightweight? Raise your hand if this is familiar: During the course of a meal, you have to scoot back your chair no less than three times to fetch the salt, retrieve a dropped fork, or run for a towel to take command of a spill. Living room chairs are typically stationary, and made to be so, but dining chairs see their share of movement, so make sure the chairs in your mix are easy to move.
Bringing together secondhand finds is a perk to mixing and matching. The pair of captain's chairs you bought at a yard sale for a song can easily be updated to coordinate with a set of hand-me-down chairs. Unify mismatched chairs with a common paint color. Different shapes and silhouettes will provide the contrast, while a constant color will pull the look together. New seat covers or upholstery will do the same trick.
Browse our chair pairings to bring this look home. See where to buy our picks, or take note of the pairing characteristics and hunt for secondhand or local scores for your own take on the look.