Eames, Wegner, Jacobsen, Cherner... When it comes to choosing chairs for your dining room, why invite just one designer to the table? Mismatched dining chairs are a can't-fail way to showcase a love of design while adding a pop of personality and visual interest to your space. You don't need to limit your choices to big-name designers, either—any chairs that catch your eye are fair game, whether they're plucked from the pages of a catalog or discovered in a back corner of a flea market.
Still, there's an art to curating a collection of chairs so that it looks cohesive and deliberate. To bring you the definitive guide to mismatched dining chairs, we turned to Tali Roth and Abigail Ahern for some expert advice.
Meet the Expert
- Tali Roth is an interior designer. She served as a residential designer for Homepolish. Her work has been featured in Architectural Digest, Elle Decor, and more.
- Abigail Ahern is an award-winning UK interior designer. She launched her own home collection in 2015 and it is stocked at boutiques around the world.
Read on for the designers' dos and don'ts, along with a few of their favorite chair designs and makers.
Tip #1: Use Mismatched Dining Chairs to Bring Character to a Basic Room
Tali Roth: Mismatched dining chairs bring character and interest to any space. They are a very simple way of adding color and drama to your home, without spending a ton of money on styling. You can employ this design technique in any setting and within any interior style, and the effect is always dramatic. I recommend this to my bold clients, who like taking risks and love playing with color and texture.
Abigail Ahern: Like many eclectic decorating styles, mismatched chairs are a tricky look to pull off; but do it right and something magical happens. It adds oodles of personality and visual interest to any space, stops it from being too cookie-cutter or decorating by numbers, and makes your dining room uniquely yours. It's a look I'll always love.
Tip #2: Be Mindful of Height
AA: As much as I'm for a lively rhythm around a room, I think when it comes to dining chairs, the seat heights need to be pretty similar, otherwise, it can look a little disjointed. You don't want your dinner guests bobbing up and down all over the place.
TIP #3: Unify the Design With Color Consistency
TR: If you want to be bold and mix different color chairs together, I think you should commit to it and go all out. When using mismatched colors, I would stick with the same or a similar chair throughout for some consistency. This is one of my favorite images that demonstrate this being done beautifully.
AA: For color, there are two ways you can go. Either you can have a rainbow assortment of the same chair in as many different colors as you like—this is particularly cool with a classic chair design—or have an assortment of different chairs and unify them by really reining in the palette. This is a trick I use all the time, and it's amazing how many disparate styles you can pull together by sticking to one hue.
Another way to create consistency among your chairs is to accessorize them with seat cushions in a matching fabric.
TIP #4: Don't Be Afraid to Mix Eras and Styles, as Long as the Shapes Complement Each Other
AA: In my pad, I have tulip chairs hanging out with our own label barrel saloon chairs. They are totally different eras and styles, but the shapes create some unity. They work together because of the rule of pairs, but also because all those curves echo each other and the shape of the table, too.
TIP #5: Opt for Balanced Juxtaposition
TR: A mix of vintage and new works if, for example, you use something like a couple of Thonet chairs that you found at a flea market worked in with the newer styles of Thonet chairs. I also appreciate two vintage dining armchairs sitting at the head of the table among a bunch of more subtle new chairs. Too much of a mixture of high and low and old and new can be an eyesore and detract from the rest of the design elements in a space.
AA: I actually really like the juxtaposition of old and new, or something elegant (maybe an upholstered armchair) with something industrial, like a classic Tolix.
Tip #6: Pair Investment, Designer Chairs With Big Box Brands to Elevate the Entire Room
TR: I absolutely love the Hoffman side chair as a dining chair. I have a real affinity for cane, and I find this chair super comfortable, which is important. I think these chairs are so chic and classic. They really fit into an array of interior styles. I also cannot go past the Wishbone Chair. They are so comfortable and have the most beautiful craftsmanship. I think these are a real investment, and they look super stylish in straight-up oak or painted in any pop of color.
When it comes to the high-street brands, I typically end up using something from West Elm for the majority of my projects. They are on-trend, affordable, and look perfect paired with high-end designer furniture items.
AA: I'm a fan of the classics: Eames chairs, Tulip chairs, Kartell Masters, and so on. It's great to invest in stylish statement chairs for your dining room, as they really elevate the space. So, if you can only afford two cool chairs at a time, no problem. Stick to the rule of pairs and team with an inexpensive chair, stool, or even bench while you build your collection.
The classics are best spiced up with something kookier. It could be a flea market find or a brand-new high-street piece. I love slightly worn-looking leather chairs. Places like French Connection and CB2 are doing some great pieces at the moment.
Tip #7: Always Mix and Match in Pairs
AH: I do this all the time. It will make the scheme feel more cohesive if each chair is part of a couple.