Published on July 20, 2018

img. 3.  MICHAEL WILTBANK.jpg Pin It
Photography by Michael Wiltbank 
Pin It
Photography by Nicole Franzen

We love when a room dares to break the rules. While there is certainly a beauty in uniformity, there’s something thrilling and unexpected about a space based on difference. And when it comes to the home, there’s no better place to experiment with contrast than in the dining room—specifically when it comes to seating.

When a gathering of chairs in all varieties—from minimal to mid-century modern—graces the table, it introduces a fresh conversation to the room. That said, mixing and matching isn’t as straightforward as compiling a wild amalgamation of your favorite seats. Think of it not as an accidental happening, but rather a curated collection of chairs that, style, color, and material aside, fall into sync with one another. Ahead are some of our favorite dining spaces that get this look right, plus tips on how to execute a similar assemblage in your own home.  

The Odd Man Out

Leanne Ford’s fresh, monochromatic farmhouse is largely informed by an organic color palette of blonde woods and bright whites. Thus, given its basic scheme, even the smallest rebellious moments are guaranteed to make a big statement. Though it is only by color that this renegade white chair stands out from its fellow companions, this subtle change instantly demands attention.

“I just think it’s important to let your table tell a story. Everything doesn’t have to match. In fact, it’s often times more fun, more genuine, and more unique to your home and your vibe when it doesn’t. Picking one type of chair ain’t easy, so why force it?” says Ford. 

Pin It
Photography by Sara Kerens

The Dynamic Medley

When Brynn Elliott Watkins, wardrobe stylist and founder of Being Elliott, was redesigning her dining room, she thought a lot about drama—and difference. “Having chairs that have only slight variations makes it seem as though you were actually trying to match the chairs, but weren’t able to completely,” says Watkins of this common mistake. Spanning the spectrum from rustic to modern, the secret to her ultra-chic dining room is that it defies cohesion.

“When thinking about how the chairs would work together in our space, there were a few things I tried to do. First, I wanted the different chairs to be completely different—not just slightly off,” Watkins tells Domino. “The difference had to be dramatic. For this reason, I paired the wooden bench across from the mid-century style white chairs. Along the same lines, I kept each side of the table uniform: Opposite the bench, the two chairs are identical and both of the heads of the table are identical. This layout feels more uniform and planned.”

Pin It
Photography by Michael Wiltbank 

Every Chair For Himself

A dedicated collector of artwork, objects, friends, and more, New York-based creative director Dan Pelosi’s happy Brooklyn home doesn’t skimp on personality. Pelosi’s penchant for color most clearly shines in the dining room, where no seat is the same. Much like the mix of friends who frequent his space for dinner parties, each chair in Pelosi’s collection represents a different period of his life.

“The success behind and purpose for my mix and match dining chairs lies in democracy and comfort,” says Pelosi. “I am a big guy, but people come in all shapes and sizes. With a 12-person dining table and long dinner parties, the comfort of my guests is a big concern for me. With several different types of chairs, I encourage guests to test them out and pick the chair that is most comfortable for them. It’s also a musical chairs style conversation starter before every is seated. Repeat guests now know what their favorite chairs are and go right to them.”

Pin It
Photography by Augusta Photography 

The Vintage Threesome

While this mix-match approach typically works around large dining tables, that’s not to say this tactic can’t work for a more intimate party of three. In Liz Solms’s charming New Orleans home, a sweet threesome of equally loud chairs circle her kitchen bistro table. Bound together by their fiery hue, this kitschy medley works because of its one-note palette and vintage appeal.

Pin It
Photography by Sarah Lawrence 

The Flea Market Group

A subtle assortment of antique style pairings make up Denver-based photographer Sarah Lawrence’s country dining room. Anchored by a solid wood farmhouse table, we love how each chair in this timeless display channel the same era. Painting a few wooden shaker chairs in your favorite soft hues is one of the easiest way to spice things up at the dinner table.

Pin It
Photography by amy bartlam

The Modern End Chair

“The real reason I mix dining chair styles sometimes is that I can’t decide which I like better so it’s a way to showcase two or more favorites,” says interior designer Natalie Myers. At her boho-chic home in LA’s Culver City, Myers decided to bookend her wood dining table with two super modern, plastic Panton Chairs that extend a fresh dose of shape and 1960s aura to the room. Below, Myers shares a few general guidelines for successfully mixing and matching your dining room chairs.

Rules to Live By:

  1. Choose a clean dining table with minimal ornamentation as to avoid visual clutter.
  2. The table should seat at least six. With the exception of Solms’s bistro set up, a small arrangement can look strange.
  3. The side chairs should be one material. They can be the same style or a mix of styles and time periods, but if you pick a wood chair, they should all be the same tone wood.
  4. The end chairs should be a different style, material, or color; a true departure from the side chairs so that it feels intentional. Bonus points if you want to do arms on the end chairs.
  5. Choose chairs with a special significance. Want to recreate Pelosi’s look? You’ll have to put plenty of thought and care behind each purchase.  
  6. Remember texture. “I just love adding textures throughout,” adds Watkins of her rich display. “The bench adds a warmth, the white chairs add a Scandinavian feel, and the wooden chairs add a California vibe. I like the way the textures work together.”

Want more dining room inspiration?

10 Dining Rooms That Are Inspiring Us This Year
10 Reasons to Wallpaper Your Dining Room
Dining Room Alternatives For Tiny Apartments

Learn to love your inbox again by signing up for Domino’s daily email.