Great Seating Ideas: How to Mix Chair Styles in Dining Rooms!!!

Aug 01, 2016

I don’t know what it is about mixing chairs in a space, but it has always been one of my true design loves!! Maybe it’s my quirky side, but to me, mixing chair styles makes a room so much more interesting!

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This dining room is one of my all-time favorites! We plastered the room and hand-painted a design inspired by a historical Swedish wall covering. This home by designer Brooke McGuyer is featured in its entirety in Segreto Style!!  The tonal and textural combination of different chairs and fabrics makes this dining room so much more inviting!!!

Our new vacation home in the mountains - living room before

I would love to incorporate the eclectic feel of mixing chair styles in my new Colorado townhouse! Here is one view of the dining space. As you can see, the table does come out a bit into the walkway.

Mixing Chairs! Segreto Secrets Blog!

In this photo, you can see that the back wall is a window. I already have a round 60-inch and a rectangular 72-inch table in storage along with multiple chairs that don’t match. For inspiration on mixing these elements, I turned to my Pinterest board, and I found a couple of fun chair mix options that might fit the space well! Which option do you like better?

Option 1: A Table with a Mix of Chairs

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One of the easiest ways to make this concept work is to combine matching side chairs with upholstered end chairs, like they did in this beautiful kitchen. I love how the blue-gray tones of the cabinets and the black of the French doors pull out all the colorations of the floor! This is a true testament to how treating doors can effect the overall feel of a room.

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I love this example of using three chair styles for a great effect in this eat-in kitchen! The stools could be tucked away whenever more counter space is needed for chopping and mixing. One thing I’ve heard to keep in mind is that the average person needs 12 inches of knee space, 14 inches is even better! You’ll also want about 34 inches from the edge of the table to the wall to ensure there’s enough clearance for the chair to scoot back so you can get up.

Mixing Chairs! Segreto Secrets Blog!

Remember that chairs that are too similar can be viewed as near misses, so make it obvious by mixing upholstered and unupholstered pieces, chairs with and without arms, and seating made from different materials. Two easy ways to never go wrong: 1) get the same chair in different colors, or 2) get chairs in all different shapes but the same color.

Chair Mixing! Segreto Secrets Blog!

Always opt for lightweight chairs that are easy to move! I got this incredible tip from the wonderful blog, Style Me Pretty. As we all know, whenever you’re entertaining, you’ll end up having to scoot back and get up at least three times during a meal to fetch something… save yourself extra trouble by choosing dining chairs that are easy and light enough to move!!

Option 2: A Banquette

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I couldn’t fit a banquette in my new house remodel, but I love the idea of bench seating with added chairs! It’s also such a space-saving option! Banquettes occupy less than half the floor space a table and chairs require yet they seat the same number of people. The bench could be against the window and the table turned the other way, so I could gain more room closer to the kitchen!



But the downside is that it might be harder for the guests to leave the table. Those of you with banquettes, have you noticed this issue? I’ve also heard the fabric can get grungy quickly so it’s best to use a slipcover you can wash or a leather or pleather fabric that can be wiped clean.




There are so many different configurations! This corner “U”-shape is perfect for tight spaces.

Segreto Secrets - Great Dining Room Seating - Banquette Near Window in Neutral Tones

A better solution for my space might be to design a “U”-shaped banquette where the longest part would be against the window and then extend down the two side walls. For “U” shapes, it’s best to do at least 78 inches for the longest side and 54 inches for the two shorter legs. Since you need 27 inches of seating width per person, this would give enough space for about 6 people without knocking knees! The one shown above looks like it would provide seating for 4-5 people.


You can place chairs on the opposite side to provide even more seating!! I’ve heard, for banquettes, that it’s best to have at least 18 inches of seating depth (or 24 if you count the upholstery or an angled back).



Segreto Secrets - Great Seating Ideas - Building A Banquette with Deep Storage

Perhaps the biggest benefit to the banquette idea is the ability to add storage! Some pull-out drawers would give me space to put placemats, napkins, extra candles, and other entertaining necessities. This would be a huge help in a small townhouse!

Segreto Secrets - Great Seating Ideas - Pleather Banquette with Storage Drawers

What do you think?? Should I go with Option 1, which I already have chairs for, or Option 2, which would give us some extra storage?



(Credit: Gordon M. Grant)

I just wanted to give my friend and Houston designer Julie Dodson a big congratulations and job well done!! Asked to participate in the Traditional Home Hampton Designer Show House, she was challenged with the bunkroom.  Here’s what Newsday says about her space:

Houston designer Julie Dodson calls this the “overflow” room for guests who need a comfortable, private space to rest. Instead of bunk beds, she used three twin beds, which she says are making a comeback in home decor. She created half-moon canopies for the beds, hanging a small bunny painting by Hunt Slonem within each structure. She used old rope and tied pieces of it in a bow to create faux hangers for the glam mirrors between each bed. “I wanted to create a fun, whimsical, happy place,” Dodson says.

DIY TIP. Another way Dodson brought a sense of surprise to the room is one of her signatures — putting animals in random and unexpected places. Here, there is a plaster dog with a real dog collar, on a floor pillow at the foot of one of the beds.

Hope you have a wonderful week! Till next week!

xo, Leslie


  • Judy Griffin
    Posted at 06:27h, 01 August Reply

    Definitely Option 2. When using only chairs, room is too “leggy”. Not only that, table adds 4 more. Too cluttered in my opinion. Upholstered banquette also provides opportunity to choose practical fabric or leather that blends with surrounding area.

    • Leslie Sinclair
      Posted at 12:09h, 01 August Reply

      And the leather or fleather is so forgiving and easy to clean for my messy eaten bunch!!

  • Chris
    Posted at 08:21h, 01 August Reply


    • Leslie Sinclair
      Posted at 12:08h, 01 August Reply

      Love them!! Hope I can make this one work!!! xo

  • Taste of France
    Posted at 08:45h, 01 August Reply

    I really dislike banquettes as being uncomfortable, though in tight corners, I understand. And benches are the worst–so hard on the back. But in general, mixed seating gets away from a banal, bought-this-all-together furniture showroom look. The seats need to be the same height, so some people aren’t struggling to keep their chins above the table because of sinking into a low, soft armchair. A common color helps keep things visually connected.
    There’s a movie set in a dacha, called “Burnt by the Sun,” and it mostly takes place around the table, which is surrounded by armchairs. A nice idea if you want guests to linger.

    • Leslie Sinclair
      Posted at 12:08h, 01 August Reply

      I will have to look for pictures in that set!!! Thanks for all the wonderful tips!!! Have a good one!!! xo

  • Cathy
    Posted at 17:20h, 01 August Reply

    Hello Leslie,
    It’s so sweet of you to ask us for “our design ideas”. I know you are quite a good designer yourself!
    My background is one of a Graphic Designer and I love Interior Design. I’m presently a fine artist.

    So here is my take:
    1. I have a strong opinion about each chair being different (even if they are the same color)–I don’t like it at all!
    2. If all of the chairs are the same except the chairs at the end, I think that looks great.
    3. I love the banquettes. I’m sure that you could do something to make it very comfortable. A curved seating arrangement (as a banquette) would be very comfortable, especially with a high back. You could put a rectangular shelf/table in the back, so that the curve could fit in it. You could then lift it up to use it as storage space. I would have to draw it to show you what I am talking about. My only concern with any banquette arrangement would be that your windows are too low. If they are too low the back of the seat won’t be comfortable. You could change your windows to new higher Windows, but they are beautiful like they are.
    4. Have you considered a large round pedestal table? You could have 2 chairs that are similar to picture number 2, then the rest can be different.

    There is a lot to consider, but that is what makes it fun!

  • Julia
    Posted at 09:33h, 03 August Reply

    Hi, Leslie!
    What fun to get to send you our ideas! I know that whatever you choose to do, it will be lovely.
    Because your townhouse has a lot going on visually, I would think about using your current 60-inch diameter table (don’t know what color it is, but maybe paint it in a soft tone) with some comfortable clear ghost chairs (all alike). That way, your eye would travel to the incredible view. And with such a comfy family room so close, the odds are that you would spend more time there than at the table anyway. With a home in the mountains, I would try to have it feel like a bit like an ethereal tree house so that the focus is on the incredible setting outside.
    Good luck as you decorate — can’t wait to see the final result.
    PS I have your book Segreto Style and I love it so much!

  • classic•casual•home
    Posted at 21:32h, 03 August Reply

    Banquette for that window space…people always congregate on banquettes…you will utilize the space better too (probably need a race track shaped pedestal or trestle table). Whatever you do will be great…that much I know!
    Mary Ann

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