If you love entertaining at home or enjoy playing host on big occasions, you’ll want to have a well-furnished dining space that can accommodate a crowd. And around the holidays when you’re expecting guests for dinner parties, making sure you have enough seats at the table is absolutely essential.
One of the best solutions for extra dining room seating? A dining bench! Whether you use it every day or just pull it in when you need additional seating, dining benches are true workhorses that offer major function with style to spare.
Find out why we love these pieces and how to choose a bench for dining room layouts—be it an open concept room with lots of extra space for furniture or a small eating nook where multipurpose designs are key. Then, shop our designers’ favorite dining bench picks!
Dining Benches vs Dining Chairs
First things first, let’s take a look at what sets a dining bench apart from a regular set of chairs.
In most homes, dining chairs are the standard choice for comfortable seats you can lean back and sit in for long periods of time. They also have a relatively small footprint, making them easy to pull in and out from under the table or move around as needed. Since there are many types of dining chairs, you’ll find many designs that can work in any layout or style of room, and they’re especially useful in smaller spaces and apartments.
A dining bench, on the other hand, offers additional seating but in a loose way that can fit many people. It’s great for family homes with kids and for people who entertain a lot. The best part about a dining bench is that it can easily be repurposed outside the dining room, like as a catchall spot in the living room or as a display surface elsewhere in the home.
How long should a dining bench be?
This depends on the length of your dinner table.
To pick the correct size dining bench, measure the length between the insides of the table legs. And be sure to come in at least 3” on each side (no more than 5”) so that your dining bench can easily slide in and out without hitting the legs.
If you have an oval table or one with a pedestal support, aim for a dining bench that’s 8” shorter than the total length of your table. Can’t decide on a table? Check out our guide on dining table shapes and sizes.
Does the dining bench need to match the table?
The short answer? No, they don’t! There’s no set approach for how to pair dining tables and chairs, so the same goes for a dining bench. It can match your dinner table if you want or you can opt for mismatched dining chairs. You can also pull in a bench on side of the table and round out the other with dining chairs.
The one good rule to follow is to make sure you choose the right material for your bench. It can contrast with the material of your table also, which makes for a visually appealing pairing. Some other stylish combinations include an upholstered bench with a wood table or a long leather seat with a marble surface. Investing in a great dining table is a good place to start. Not sure what to look for? Check out our design buying guides for some pointers.
Here, browse some of our designers’ favorite picks for dining benches in the home!
Designer Picks: The Best Dining Benches
Indoor/Outdoor Dining Benches
As a dining bench, an indoor-outdoor design offers the ultimate durable seat, with stain resistance and stylish construction that’s guaranteed to last for years. There are tons of options for an indoor-outdoor dining bench—from designs wrapped in weather-resistant materials to seats upholstered in performance fabrics to natural wood pieces.
Look For: Woods that are durable and built to last and can stand up to the elements as well as everyday wear. We love a dining bench made from teak, which develops a natural patina over time and will stay looking good as it ages.
Perfect In: Sunrooms, decks, and patio dining spaces. Though we also love using one in a normal dining room.
Leather Dining Benches
Leather is another durable, fade-resistant, timeless material that makes for a popular choice for a dining bench. Natural leather benches add a touch of warmth and comfort to a dining space, while faux leathers, which are equally chic, will give your room a sleek outlook. Consider whether you want a natural tone leather, a darker one, or even a faux leather design to start.
Look For: Leathers can stain, so we always recommend a darker option for a dining bench that’s heavily used on the regular. If you prefer a lighter leather, choose one that’s medium toned like tan or caramel, which will develop a natural patina over time that gives it an extra sumptuous look.
Perfect In: Rustic or boho dining spaces with a mix of woods, eclectic colors, and lots of Mid-Century furniture.
Wood Dining Benches
The most versatile material for a dining bench, wood is a good option if you’re after something simple, durable, and sure to stand the test of time. What’s great about a wood bench is that you have endless styles, colors, and designs to choose from, so you’re definitely going to find a seat that works with your existing room and decor.
Look For: A solid wood bench made of walnut, maple, or teak always makes for a strong and easy-to-clean seat. If you live in a rental or small space, there are many stylish wood veneer options in functional sizes—plus they’re also slightly more lightweight than solid wood pieces.
Perfect In: Any interior style space. This type of dining bench is guaranteed to last for years and will transition seamlessly with your evolving style, rooms, and even homes!
Upholstered Dining Benches
For a softer, more sophisticated look, an upholstered dining bench will do the job and some. More comfortable than most other benches, it’s perfect if you love long dinner parties where you spend hours at the table.
Look For: An upholstered dining bench upholstered in a durable fabric, such as treated velvet or a microfiber, or one that’s stain resistant. When using upholstery in the dining area, function comes first.
Perfect In: Any modern or contemporary dining space, or a small eclectic one with a mix of bold fabrics, woods, and metallic touches.
Dining Benches With Backs
For an elevated take on upholstered dining room benches, opt for one with a high back. It’s the perfect blend between a settee and a bench. And one of these designs makes for a luxe and sumptuous dining bench that will instantly dial up the glamour and comfort in your space.
Look For: A design in a darker fabric. Because these seats are practically mini sofas next to your dining table, dark materials will help hide stains and extend the longevity of your piece. The main thing to remember? Measure thoroughly and leave extra space all around this style bench to ensure it fits into your space.
Perfect In: A traditional or transitional dining space in a family home with kids. Also, entertainers who love hosting long dinner parties. Back on bench makes it more comfortable.
Woven Dining Benches
If you’re looking to add texture to your dining space, a woven bench provides a wide range of tactile material options. From tightly woven rope seats to caning to leather basketweave designs, a woven dining bench offers comfort, crisp style, and a simple, clean-lined look.
Look For: Make sure these benches are tightly woven, so they don’t easily come undone. While they’re durable, they’re also a little tricky to clean, so keep that in mind when choosing the color of your woven bench. It is not impervious to stains and spills.
Perfect In: Coastal homes and contemporary spaces where they’ll add intrigue as well as a light, airy look.
Kid-Friendly Dining Benches
Look for sturdy designs that won’t scratch easily and can stand up to lots of traffic, climbing, and spills. With a busy family home, a dining bench that is well-constructed and made with durable materials is always top priority.
Look For: Skip fine upholstery and opt for kid-friendly benches in materials such as rustic weathered woods that can conceal any dents and wear over time, performance fabrics that are stain and mildew resistant, and outdoor fibers that are durably weather-resistant. That said, our first choice for a kid-friendly dining bench is certainly wood, which is easy to clean and decorate with other furnishings.
Perfect In: Rustic dining rooms or classic contemporary homes where high and low style (and foot traffic!) meet.
Explore our gallery for more dining room design ideas!
Try on Dining Benches in Your Space