Buying Dining Chairs

There is a huge range of dining chair styles to choose from made from various different materials, including plastic, wood and metal, with and without upholstery. We hope this guide will help you choose your perfect set of chairs.

Comfort & upholstery

How do you sit? Some people naturally cross their ankles under the seat? If this is the case, you may want to avoid complicated metal bases such as on the Eames DSR chair, as you are likely to knock your ankles on them. Instead look at chairs with four legs or a cantilever base. If you like to sit for hours over dinner parties with friends, you may wish to test out lots of chairs to see which you find the most comfortable.


Many contemporary chair designs have no upholstery. This doesn’t necessarily mean the chair is uncomfortable. For example, Vitra’s Panton chair is very comfortable due to its cantilever design, which provides some “give” and bounce, and the curved seat shape fits the body well. Chairs with no upholstery also have the advantage of being perfect for family life as they are so easy to clean. Vitra’s .03 chair is pretty unique in offering a clean, modern design with the comfort of an upholstered chair, thanks to its seat shell of polyurethane foam.


If you would like to add a level of comfort, you have a huge choice of upholstery options for many chair designs. For example, the Eames DSR and DSW plastic chairs give the option of complete upholstery of the inner shell, or just seat upholstery.  

For serious comfort, consider the Saarinen Conference chair or Gubi’s Beetle chair, which both offer full upholstery. And the choice of upholstery options is immense.

Eames DSR by Vitra

Eames DSR by Vitra.

Panton Chairs by Vitra

Panton Chairs by Vitra.

Beetle and Bat Chairs by GUBI

Beetle and Bat Chairs by GUBI.

Outside use

Do you want to be able to use the chairs outside? The outdoor finish for the Bertoia chairs looks fantastic with a hard wearing rilsan frame in white or black – this gives the chair a totally different look when compared to the classic chrome for solely indoor use. Check out our Outdoor section for more ideas.

Bertoia Chairs by Knoll

Bertoia Chairs by Knoll.


Chairs vary quite considerably in their width, which in turn affects the number of chairs which can fit around a table. For example, Knoll’s fully-upholstered Bertoia side chair is pretty wide at 54cm, whereas Fritz Hansen’s Drop chair is slimmer at 45.5cm. Chairs also vary quite considerably in their seat height. The average is around 44cm. But some, such as the Tulip chair is as high as 49cm, whilst others such as the Eames plastic DSR and DSW chairs are as low as 43cm (without seat upholstery). Don't necessarily rule out lower chairs if you are tall -  it depends on the thickness of the table top. If the table top is quite thick a lower dining chair may work better as it means you will gain more leg room.  

Bertoia side chair by Knoll

Bertoia Side Chair by Knoll.

Drop Chair, Fritz Hansen.

Saarinen Tulip chair by Knoll

Saarinen Tulip Chair by Knoll.

Which table?

You also need to consider what dining table is going with the chairs, both in terms of style and size, as discussed above. Most dining tables are 72 to 74cm high. Bear in mind that the height is measured to the top of the table, so if the top is particularly thick it will limit the leg room underneath. If this is the case, you may need to consider chairs with lower seat heights.

Saarinen Conference Chairs paired with Saarinen Oval Tulip Table by Knoll

Saarinen Conference Chairs paired with Saarinen Oval Tulip Table by Knoll.

How many chairs?

Will you often have spare chairs, reserved for high days and holidays? In this case stacking chairs would be a good option. Fritz Hansen are the masters of stacking chairs with options including the Series 7, Ant, Grand Prix, Lily, NO2 and NAP. Vitra also offers stacking chairs including Jasper Morrison’s HAL tube, Van Severen’s .03 and the Bouroullec’s Belleville chair.

Series 7 and Ant chair by Fritz Hansen

Series 7 and Ant chair by Fritz Hansen.

HAL tube chair by Vitra

HAL Tube Chair by Vitra.

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