Do Dining Chairs Have to Match? [Here’s why not]

Your dining room probably feels like a formal space because it's where holiday dinners are hosted. So, you are likely tempted to decorate it formally, with china cabinets and matching chairs. However, the most important factor in the design should be your personality. Since the table is the most important feature of the dining room, there's extra pressure for it to deliver on the style. But, do dining chairs have to match? We've scoured the internet for you, to share the best ways for you to coordinate dining room table and chairs.

Having a set of mismatched chairs at your dining room table makes a statement. In fact, there are numerous reasons why dining chairs do not have to match. Some of the best reasons not to match your chairs include:

  • Trying to strike a shabby-chic style
  • Drawing attention to one part of the table
  • Liking a bold color palette

Of course, throwing together a bunch of different chairs does not always lead to a cohesive design. There's an art to making the aesthetics work. Let us walk you through how you can achieve the results you want.

A mix of classic and modern designed living room with a dining area on the side, Do Dining Chairs Have to Match? [Here's why not]

The Shabby-Chic Dining Room

The shabby-chic style is characterized by furniture with visible wear-and-tear. Distressed finishes very much fall in line with this aesthetic. The intended effect makes your home feel well-loved and lived-in.

Using this aesthetic could mean having your dining set either feature chairs with different styles, but similar finishes, or feature chairs of all the same design, but with different patterns to their distressing.

In either case, looking at the end result should evoke the feeling that each chair has been passed down through generations of family members to make it to this final table.

Take this dining room table, for example. All the chairs have an antiqued look that unites them, even though the chair at the head of the table features a radically different style.

This table uses the shabby-chic aesthetic, as well. Several different types of seating can be found at the table, but they're all united by their distressed look.


The Attention Getting Chair

Another method you can use if you want to evoke the charm of mismatched dining chairs is to choose just one from the set to be different from the rest. Consider this: you have five black chairs placed around your modern, black table. You place one red chair at the head. Where is your eye drawn? The red chair, of course.

You can create this look easily at home by purchasing these chairs.

Find them on Amazon.

You then pair them with a set of these.

Learn more on Amazon.

This approach even works in other rooms. Say you have a breakfast nook. Of the four chairs placed around the tiny, square table, one of them has a slightly higher back. You know where your gaze will be drawn.

All it takes is making one, tiny detail different for your guests' eyes to be intrigued by the lack of symmetry.

Can I Use Matching Side Chairs with Different End Chairs?

If you're wondering if this method works when two out of the four chairs match, then we have excellent news for you. Symmetry also always pleases the eye. So, match your end chairs to your heart's content. This dining room table certainly has, and look how streamlined the aesthetic is!

Rainbow Dining Chairs

Perhaps the easiest way to create this aesthetic is through the use of multiple colors. Just make sure you pick out chairs that share the same design. This way, a visual cohesion will unite the chairs around the table, while the rainbow of colors play with where the eye is drawn.

Of course, you can pair differently designed chairs of multiple colors, as well. Be sure that the rest of the room's design is simple and understated to avoid overwhelming the senses, though.

Consider this homey illustration of the concept.

Do Dining Chair Legs Have to Match Table?

Yet another way you can play with the mix-and-match aesthetic is to have your chair legs differ from those on the table. For best results, you'll want at least a couple of the legs to match in style. For example, you can have the two head-of-table chairs feature matching legs, while the other two or four in the set look different.

Take this dining room table, for example. The end chairs have thick wooden legs that match the table, while all the side chairs feature a different color, as well as a more rounded style.


Of course, you can make the mismatched leg style work for you even if the chairs don't match the table at all. Consider this set. While the table and chair legs share a general thickness, their shape and color varies.


This just goes to show that you can pick any element to work in harmony, be it width or style, and play around with the rest.

How Dining Chairs Affect Style

If you're not a fan of shabby chic but still want to take advantage of this design trick, rest assured. It is possible.

Traditional Style

Consider this traditional dining table. It has all the elegance you'd expect from the classic style, and yet it plays with the visual intrigue of mismatched chairs.


To achieve the same effect at home, consider getting these chairs.

Find them on Amazon.

You can then pair them with this set.

Get more information on Amazon.

Are Taller Dining Chairs More Formal?

Speaking of ways to strike a more traditional aesthetic, you can always turn to taller-backed chairs to help you along. Though their style does depend on design to a certain extent, the higher the back on a chair, the more likely it will appear formal.

Consider this dining room, which features tall dining room chairs with rolled detailing. It has elegance in spades.

On the other hand, this set strikes a more casual note, while still maintaining a classic style.

Mid-Century Modern

Mid-century Modern dining rooms also tend to work well with this design trick. Look no further than this dining room for the proof.

Play with this style yourself with chairs like these.

Available on Amazon.

Other Ways To Mix And Match

Dining room seating isn't limited to the side chair, either. If you want to play even more, consider bench seating or arm chairs. You can even mix and match textures!

Do Dining Benches Save Space?

There are many benefits to bench seating. In addition to being visually distinctive, and therefore great for the mismatched look, benches tend to save space. If you get a bench in the right size, it should tuck nicely under the table. This means you can easily push your dining room set against a wall when it's not in use. 

Why Do Some Dining Chairs Have Arms?

Though the side chair certainly allows you to fit more people around your table, one cannot discount the arm chair when mixing and matching. The arms will stand out in a sea of side chairs, for one thing. For another, these types of chairs can be more accommodating to guests by providing a comfortable place to rest elbows.

Are Upholstered Dining Chairs More Formal?

In a word, no. Upholstered chairs don't have to strike a formal tone. What they can do is help you do is intrigue the eye. Matching wooden dining chairs with upholstered models instantly evokes the mix and match style.

Not convinced? Consider these playfully upholstered chairs.

Get them on Amazon.

Their legs share a finish with these wooden models.

Learn more on Amazon.

Pairing the two together would bring both intrigue and harmony to a dining room table.

Going Beyond the Table

Now that you have your dining room chairs completely sorted, you're going to want to decorate the rest of the room. You don't have to take the first steps by yourself. Pick up some tips on how to decorate your table when it's not in use by reading our detailed guide. Then, once you've mastered everything table-related, allow us to help you find the wall decor for your dining room.

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