The Role of Dining Chairs as Grand Displays of Both Function and Design

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Having dinner on the couch in front of the TV, on your desk while watching funny videos on YouTube, at the bar, or straight out of the fridge is no big deal when you’re home alone. However, when you invite guests over for dinner, be it your co-workers, neighbours, friends, relatives, or a hot date with your new love interest, you want to leave a good impression and you want them, of course, to feel comfortable while dining. And what better way to do that, than by showing off your authentic Persian rug produced in Iran, am I right? No, of course not. I’m talking about a good dining set, obviously.

Sitting down for a good meal has always been the best way to bring people together, break the ice, and have them engage into a relaxed and meaningful conversation. Peace treaties have been signed, business deals have been made, families have been brought together, around a table, with food and drinks. In fact, if it weren’t for dining chairs and tables, the Knights of the Round Table would have have been just regular knights. And you can forget about poker nights and table top role playing games without a good table and chairs set.

While the table itself is important, it basically needs to be flat, sturdy and big enough to accommodate plenty of people. Of course, one should not neglect style and design, but that doesn’t affect the overall dining experience in terms of comfort, as much as chairs do. I find dining chairs to be a much more significant part of a dining set.

Back in the old days, in fact just a few decades ago, you used to get matching chairs and tables in a single package, but today it’s a different story. Mix-and-match dining sets are totally in and it’s both fun and challenging to combine them. This applies to commercial and home settings alike. With all that been said, I would like to address and provide some insight on the “challenging” part of the matter, since you don’t really need me to have fun.

When it comes to choosing dining chairs, there is a number of factors you need to have in mind if you want to get it right. Well, “getting it right” is actually a strong expression since choosing furniture is a matter of personal taste and you should always go with what feels right for you, but there is a basic set of principles you need to follow so that your dining set doesn’t look like a platypus in a computer store at noon.

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The thing that immediately comes to mind for most people is style and design, and for obvious reasons. The design of the dining chairs should match the design of the table and the overall design of the dining room. For example, if you have a rectangular table, you can’t have chairs with round seats and vice versa. Also, if the table has slightly curved legs, the chairs should have a similar flow. A modernistic minimalist table would feel out of whack with antique Victorian chairs and it goes the same regarding your general home décor. On the other hand, in some cases a mix of different styles may add a certain amount of contrast that will give a chic look to your room. Speaking of antiques, I wouldn’t recommend getting antique chairs since the primary purpose of chairs is functionality and aesthetics come second. My point is, it’s really hard to find a hundred year old chair which is preserved well enough to withstand frequent use and won’t fall apart the moment your aunt Elizabeth sits on it. You can have the same impact on your space with a reproduction of any historical style while having the benefits of high quality modern manufacturing techniques and this way you can use your chairs with confidence.

Another important factor to consider is the material of the chair. Again, the material should complement the rest of the room and the table, but it should also be durable and easy to maintain or require as little maintenance as possible. Traditionally, hardwood’s and softwoods were the main choice, however, chair manufacturers today use a wide range of materials as part of the frame structure and for accenting. These materials include:

• different types of plastics;
• metals such as aluminium, wrought iron, brushed steel, copper and brass for accenting, and even gold leafs for ornamentation purposes;
• different choices of wood such as birch, oak, pine, spruce, and some more exotic ones such as ebony or teak;
• recycled materials and reclaimed wood;
• leather or imitation of leather
• all kinds of blends that include canvas, heavy cotton and synthetic fibres.

Leather (both real and faux) seems to be the most common upholstery material, maybe due to the fact that it’s easy to clean and maintain. Since it is very likely you’ll spill something on a dining chair, it wouldn’t hurt having removable slip covers for extra protection.

Although most modern chairs have a standard size, this is a factor that should not be overlooked. Ideally there should be around 30.5 centimetres from the top of the table to the seat of the chair and around 48 centimetres from the seat to the floor. The average width of the seats should be around 50 centimetres, but that may vary depending on the style of the chair.

And finally, a dining chair must be comfortable. Consider the angle of the back of the chair and other features such as cushions, arm rests, and ergonomics for maximum comfort.

Overall, a fine combination of these factors should make up a chair that is stylish, comfortable, durable, easy to maintain, and let’s not forget, it should be versatile and portable for usage other than at the dining table and provide and occasional extra seat in the living room.

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