When you think of dining chairs, you might think they’re all function and no form. But that’s far from the truth. They can actually be fun statement pieces within your dining room! One of the best ways to get creative with dining room chairs is in the material. There are so many different types of dining chairs and materials to choose from—and what you land on can help influence or support the overall design style of your dining room. (Of course, the frame shape has a lot of bearing on the style of your dining room as well. Check out our guide to dining chair styles for more on that.)

Since they are highly functional pieces, it’s important to think about and which ones are best for your lifestyle. So, when thinking through dining room design ideas, you’ll want to consider your individual needs. If you have kids, you’ll probably want a material that’s easy to clean. If your dining room is doubling as a home office, you’ll want dining room chairs that are comfortable to sit in for a full workday. What you need depends on how you use your space, and who uses it. But from there, you can choose whatever dining chair material that suits your fancy!

Ready to dive in? Keep reading for our dining chair materials guide! We’ve rounded up a few of our stylists’ favorite dining room chair materials and why we love them!

Dining chair materials guide

NATURAL MATERIALS

Dining chairs made of natural materials encompass materials like woods, cane, rattan, and so much more. This is by far the largest category of dining room chair materials, as it encompasses such a broad range of materials that are often used in dining chairs. Read on for a bit more on some of the more popular natural materials for dining chairs.

Wicker

Wicker is made from pliable plant materials (like bamboo, willow, rattan, and reads) and can come to life in furniture in many different woven styles. It’s a lightweight but sturdy material, which will hold up well over time when treated with care. And, when weather treated, it’s generally safe for outdoor use as well. (Perfect for an outdoor dining set!)

Wicker pairs well with…

Dining tables made of other natural materials—like stone, wood, marble, and some metal tables. And wicker also pairs well with metal within the chair itself. The chairs featured above have wicker seats but feature delicate metal legs which add a more modern vibe to this more traditionally eclectic material.

This material is perfect for…

A more casual interior design style. It goes really well with rustic, coastal, and eclectic interior design styles.

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Dining chair materials guide

Teak

Teak is a tropical hardwood tree species that makes for beautiful and durable furniture. With its warmer tone, it adds nice organic warmth to a space, making a beautiful statement in dining spaces. Teak has beautiful coloring and can easily be combined with other materials. In the image above, teak chair frames are supplemented with woven seagrass seats which adds beautiful texture to the chairs.

Teak pairs well with…

Wood dining tables that are in a similar color family as your teak chair’s finish. It also pairs well with stone and marble.

This material is perfect for…

Eclectic spaces, mid-century modern styles, and even some minimalist and rustic styles. In fact, the use of teak furniture is big in the Japandi trend, a minimal but warm interior design style.

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Dining chair materials guide

Natural Wood

Natural wood dining chairs give dining rooms a beautiful earthy and natural quality to them. They come in a wide variety of different shapes and styles, making them one of the most versatile dining chair materials. In fact, they transition well between many styles—and the finish found on natural wood chairs tend to be more earthy and organic, since it’s not a stain but just a finish that seals and protects the wood without significantly changing the natural coloring. Because this is a sturdy natural material, natural wood chairs hold up well over time.

Natural wood pairs well with…

Almost everything—from natural wood dining tables to metal, stone, marble and painted wood in just about any color.

This material is perfect for…

Minimalists, mid-century modern style, and some traditional styles that veer more eclectic.

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Stained or Painted Wood

When it comes to wood dining chairs, there’s a lot more out there than the natural wood look. Stain shows off the natural grain and texture of a wood chair while giving it a darker finish. But wood can, of course, also be painted or manufactured with a darker finish—which means painted wood dining chairs can span from black and white to bolder colors like red, yellow, pink, or blue! Whatever the finish, stained or painted wood dining chairs give a more high-contrast look than natural wood dining chairs—while offering the same benefits.

Stained or painted wood pairs well with…

Metals, marbles, and stone. Depending on the stain or paint color, these chairs can also pair with other wood tones that are more refined. Just make sure that if you’re going for stained wood dining chairs and a wood dining table, that there’s enough contrast between the tones.

This material is perfect for…

A variety of styles. Chairs painted with a color other than black or white tend to suit a more eclectic style, while dining chairs with an ebony finish go well with glam or minimalist styles—or even some mid-century modern spaces. Stained dining chairs go well with mid-century modern spaces as well, but also suit traditional and classic spaces depending on the shape and style of the chair. Chairs that are painted white go well with traditional and coastal spaces. Needless to say, stained or painted wood dining chairs are quite versatile!

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Dining chair materials guide

Leathers

Leather dining chairs add a subtle pop of color to your dining room. There’s a sophistication that comes with leather, but different leather tones and finishes will give your dining room a different vibe. Leather dining chairs are often paired with metal legs, giving them a more sleek look.

Saddle Leather

Leather is a softer material, which makes it more comfortable than other dining chair materials. A saddle or cognac leather color is very versatile and adds nice warmth to a space. When treated well, it will hold up over time—though it will definitely develop a natural patina over years of use. (In our opinion, that only adds to the look—so don’t be afraid of visible aging or even small scratches and scuffs!)

Saddle leather pairs well with…

All dining table types—from wood and stone to metal and marble. This is such a stylistically versatile material, making it an all around all-star for dining chair materials.

This material is perfect for…

Mid-century styles and more transitional styles. It can also work well in eclectic spaces. Leather chairs also go well in a variety of spaces and can make excellent desk chairs or side chairs.

For tips on integrating dining chairs into different spaces click here.

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Dining chair materials guide

Tobacco Leather

Tobacco leather has a darker finish which makes it naturally suited for more masculine and dramatic spaces. With that darker finish, it helps ground your space, and like all leathers, it will develop a beautiful patina as it wears naturally over time.

Tobacco leather pairs well with…

Wood and metal dining tables, as well as some stones that are more earthy and industrial.

This material is perfect for…

Industrial and minimal spaces, mid-century style, and some rustic styles.

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Dining chair materials guide

UPHOLSTERED

Upholstered dining chairs have a bit more of a formal vibe—the material used in the upholstery will definitely influence the style. Upholstered dining chairs can range from cottons and linens to velvet and vinyl. They can also be fully upholstered or slipcovered, or have metal or wooden legs or frames with upholstered backs and seats.

Upholstered Velvet

Velvet has an ability to elevate a look due to its richness in texture and material. So, dining chairs upholstered in velvet will add a sense of luxury to any dining room. However, velvet isn’t super easy to clean—so veer away from using it in homes with children (unless it’s a durable or performance velvet that is a darker color). Sometimes velvet dining chairs are entirely upholstered, like the ones above, while other styles have an upholstered seat frame, while the legs are metal or wood.

Velvet pairs well with…

Marble dining tables. Marble and velvet go beautifully together, as they’re both materials that have a glam, luxurious vibe. Velvet also pairs nicely with white and ebony colored tables, and tables with glass tabletops and gold or brass metallic accents.

This material is perfect for…

Glam and eclectic interior design styles, as well as maximalist lovers.

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Dining chair materials guide

Upholstered Frame

Upholstered dining chair frames—where the chair’s seat and back are upholstered in fabric, are one of the most popular styles of dining chairs. They’re also one of the most comfortable dining chair styles, as upholstered chairs also have some built-in padding. Most upholstered dining chairs have wooden frames. The fabric used in the upholstery—as well as the finish of the rest of the chair’s frame—will influence what style the chair pairs with best.

Upholstered chairs pair well with…

Stone, marble, concrete, and wood dining tables. Upholstered chairs also pair well with caning. In fact, there’s also a sub-set of upholstered chairs where the seat of the chair is upholstered in fabric but the back is caning, which adds additional visual interest to the chair.

This material is perfect for…

Traditional dining rooms. However dining chairs with upholstered frames can also go with some mid-century styles as well as contemporary, rustic, coastal, and transitional spaces.

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Dining chair materials guide

Slipcovers

Slipcovered dining chairs are great for more formal dining rooms, as they tend to give off a more refined look. Since most slipcovers can be taken off and washed, they’re generally kid-friendly! (Though only if it’s a performance fabric that’s washable—so make sure you look out for that when buying!) For a less formal look, you could use slipcovered chairs just at each end of your dining room table, then bring in a natural material chair along the lengths of your table. This adds structure to your dining room with less formality—and is one of the easiest ways to dip your toe into the mismatched dining chairs trend!

Slipcovered chairs pair well with…

All table types. Since they’re completely covered in fabric (and dining room tables are never made of fabric) there is no sense of competing materials. So they really can go with any dining table materials.

This material is perfect for…

Rustic, traditional, classic, and transitional styles—although it can be mixed into more eclectic styles as well.

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Dining chair materials guide

MANUFACTURED MATERIALS

Dining chairs made of more manufactured materials—like acrylic, polycarbonate, plastic, and metal—tend to be kid-friendly because they are so easy to clean. But, the material itself has a huge bearing on what style of dining room it’s suited to.

Acrylic

Acrylic dining chairs are super sleek and are perfect for those with modern design sensibilities. While they’re not the most comfortable dining chair material, they’re very easy to clean! All you have to do is whip them down. They work great in smaller or busier spaces, since acrylic doesn’t visually clutter a small space.

Acrylic pairs well with…

Mixed materials, like brass and marble (like the table pictured above). Acrylic also pairs well with a white lacquer table or a white concrete.

This material is perfect for…

Modern and glam dining rooms. Acrylic really lets the other materials in the space shine.

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Dining chair materials guide

Metal

Metal chairs are easy to maintain and will pretty much last forever. Like acrylic, they’re also very easy to clean. However, since they veer industrial in style, they can seem a little cold—so if you want to add more comfort and warmth to your dining room, we recommend using metal dining chairs as an accent paired with a more comfortable chair or bench to help break up the metal-on-metal in the space. You could also add seat cushions to metal chairs for added comfort.

Metal pairs well with…

Wooden dining tables. Pairing metal chairs and a wood table adds beautiful contrast to the space, and the finish of the table can help define the overall style of the space.

This material is perfect for…

Industrial dining rooms. But, when paired with the right pieces, they can also work well in transitional, rustic, and farmhouse spaces.

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