When it comes to dining room furniture, the most important pieces are chairs and tables. But how do you choose the right table and chairs for your style? And beyond the overall style, how do you begin to figure out how to pair dining tables and chairs that coordinate without buying a complete dining set?

It’s a common conundrum without a simple and straightforward answer. After all, style and design are full of nuance! But it can be done. To help, we’re breaking down key rules for making your choice and picking a dining table and chairs that perfectly match. (And keep reading until the end, where we’ll offer 5 foolproof table and chair combinations!)

7 Tips for Pairing Dining Tables and Chairs

To start things off, we’re sharing 7 tips to help you find the right table and chair combination and bring your dining room design ideas to life!

1. Begin with Your Dining Table

Your dining room table should be the foundation of your dining room, around which everything else is decorated (figuratively and literally). So, pick chairs to match your table, not the other way around. Since this is a larger piece of furniture, it’s more important to get this right based on your functional needs

Decide what size and shape of table you need first. If you have a smaller dining room, a round or oval table might be just the thing. Need to fit six or more around the table? Opt for rectangular. And if you love to host large gatherings, perhaps an extendable table is right for you!

Then, consider dining table materials. Wood dining tables are the most common, but you can also go for something more decorative, like marble or glass, or a material that’s easy to clean, like a composite wood.

Finally, you’ll want to choose a dining table style that matches your personal interior design style.

Need a little extra guidance? Learn all about how to choose a dining table in our dining table buying guide.

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2. Avoid Matching Sets

A room looks best when the furniture is coordinated but not overly matchy-matchy. That goes for dining rooms as well as living rooms and bedrooms! Sure, if you buy a complete, matching dining room set, you don’t have to worry about what chairs to pair with your table. But this look will also appear a bit one-note and can make your dining room design fall flat and feel dated. On the other hand, finding chairs that coordinate with your table without perfectly matching them will allow you to create a unique look that highlights your personality and style.

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3. Choose Chairs That are a Different Color from Your Table

When picking out chairs to go with your dining table, an easy rule of thumb is to invite contrast. Since dining tables and chairs take up a lot of visual space in a room, you don’t want them to be one solid block of the same color. This will make your dining room feel visually heavy and make the room feel unbalanced. (One more reason to avoid the matching set!)

Instead, break up all the sameness with different colors. This is an easy way to ensure your room feels curated but still layered and interesting. Just look at the dining nook above: the dining table is a light pine, and the black frame of the chairs adds contrast to the arrangement. And, while the chair’s seats are a similar tone as the wood of the table, they’re a different material, which helps add texture and depth. (More on that, below!)

One other curveball: if you go for wood tables and chairs, make sure that neither one is the same color or tone as your flooring! If you’re running into this problem, consider layering in a dining room rug.

Designer Tip: Chairs and tables in the same color aren’t always bad! It just depends on the design style of your dining room. A tone-on-tone look works well in Scandinavian or Mid-Century Modern styles, where pieces are made of stunning natural wood. If you go this route, just be sure the wood tones match exactly, as close-but-not-exact tones will clash.

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4. Pick Different Materials for Your Tables and Chairs

Mixing colors is great—but you can take it a step further and add additional contrast through different dining chair materials! How different you go simply depends on how much of a statement you want to make. Generally, the less similar your materials feel, the bolder or more eclectic your space will look.

For example, a wood table with cane chairs will feel cohesive and add a pop of visual contrast, because both materials are natural and have a similar vibe. Meanwhile, a marble table with velvet chairs (as in the dining room above) will bring a lot more contrast and create a super bold statement in your space.

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5. Balance the “Visual Weight” Between Your Table and Chairs

Did you know objects, like furniture and decor, have visual weight? This is an interior design principle that basically says larger, darker, and more solid objects will feel “heavy” in a room, while slim, open, and clear objects feel “light.”

What does this have to do with your dining room? Well, if you have a visually heavy table, you’re going to want to balance it out with “lighter” chairs—and vice-versa! For example, if your table has skinny metal legs and a glass top, you’ll want to avoid chairs that are also clear or have tall slender legs because the overall arrangement will feel unbalanced and too light. Instead, balance it out with a lighter table with more solid-looking, visually heavier chairs. Or consider the dining room pictured above. When you have a substantial pedestal dining table like this one, it has a lot of visual weight. To balance this, pair it with chairs that feel airy and light, like these white chairs with slender legs and cane backs.

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6. Think Outside the Box

Of course, like tables, you need to consider types of dining chairs so you can choose dining chairs that match your style. But there’s no need to limit yourself to a set of fully matching chairs when figuring out how to pair dining tables and chairs in your own home!

When it comes to dining room seating, you can think outside the box. You can go for mismatched dining chairs—either swapping out the two chairs at the head and foot of the table, or going full-speed ahead with all mismatched chairs for a more eclectic look. You can even nix chairs all together on one or both long slides of a rectangular table and use a dining bench instead! This is a great option for homes with kids or if you just need to add extra seating in a pinch!

7. Measure Everything

A surefire way for a dining room design to go sideways? Not taking measurements before purchasing furniture. Not only do you want to make sure that the size and scale of your tables and chairs will suit your dining room, but you also want to make sure the actual tables and chairs will work together.

So, make note of the table height, then make sure the seat height of your chairs will allow you to sit comfortably at the table. And, of course, make sure the backs of the chairs are high enough that they won’t slide under the dining table when pushed in. (Unless you have a bench!)

You’ll also want to measure the width of the chairs in comparison with the size of your table. It’s most comfortable to have about six inches in between each chair, in addition to allowing about 24 inches of eating space for each person at the table. So, do the math on how many chairs can comfortably fit around your table given the width of your chairs!

5 Foolproof Dining Table and Chair Combinations

Want a few more examples? Keep reading to discover our designers’ five foolproof combos for pairing dining tables and chairs.

dining chairs with slip covers and a wood dining table ad lots of texture and interest to this space

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Combo #1: Slipcover Dining Chairs with a Wood Dining Table

Linen chairs with a warm wood dining table is a foolproof look because you have built-in contrast in the material, color, and textures! The wood dining table is solid and has rustic vibes, while the chairs are soft and plush. The perfect level of contrast!

This combo works well with… 

Rustic, traditional, and classic styles. It’s also a great combination if you’re mixing styles (like modern and traditional) or want to create a timeless look. Avoid this combination if you like a modern or industrial look.

leather chairs and a wood dining table make for an sleek but cozy vibe

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Combo #2: Leather Chairs with a Light Wood Dining Table

Want to create a hip and modern look? Pair a sleek, light wood dining table with modern, leather chairs. Opt for leather chairs that have a bit of patina, which will increase the contrast between the modern light wood and the chairs. Choosing leather chairs with dark metal legs will add additional contrast to your dining room arrangement.

This combo works well with… 

More modern styles, like Scandinavian or Mid-Century. It’s also a great look for someone who loves industrial style but wants something a bit more warm and inviting.

Marble and velvet are a glamorus dining chair and dining table combo

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Combo #3: Velvet Chairs with a Marble Dining Table

Marble and velvet are both glamorous materials on their own. But when paired together, they are dynamite for creating an elevated look. The highly textured look of velvet contrasts beautifully with sleek marble. Up the ante even more by opting for velvet in a saturated jewel tone.

This combo works well with… 

Glam, modern, and mid-century styles and in spaces where you want to add a bit of drama.

Canning is a wonderful to give your dining room a classic feel

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Combo #4: Cane Chairs with a Black Wood Dining Table

Caning is classic material. And wood is the most common and timeless material for dining tables. So, pairing these two classic materials together creates a timeless and casual rustic look. This pairing also has an organic vibe since these are both natural materials. And, by opting for a black finish or paint on your table, you can add extra visual contrast.

This combo works well with… 

Rustic, modern rustic, and even coastal styles.

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Combo #5: Upholstered Chairs with a Glass-Top Dining Table

Glass is undeniably sleek and modern—but it can also feel somewhat cold. Meanwhile, upholstered chairs offer comfort and warmth. So, together, they make a great pairing for a dining room. The glass top offers a touch of elegance and luxury, and pairing it with a simple and sleek upholstered chair offers a more approachable look.

This combo works well with… 

Contemporary, glam, and modern styles where you want to bring in both a sense of luxury and comfort.

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