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The Complete Guide to Bar and Counter Height Stools

Whether you’ve moved into a home with an eat-in kitchen or you’ve built a bar into a family room, finding the right bar or counter stools is absolutely essential when creating your dining room checklist. In a small space, a counter may be your only formal eating space. For others, it may simply be a more casual dining location. But either way, it’s important to find the right seating for this area to make it function at its best!

Feel a little lost when it comes to picking out bar or counter-height stools for your space? Keep reading for our complete bar stool guide. We’ll walk you through everything you need to know about bar-height and counter stools to make sure you end up with the perfect seating at your counter!

bar stools guide

Bar vs. Counter-Height Stools

When looking at bar and counter seating options, you first want to consider the height of your bar or counter. And it’s important to note that bar-height and counter-height stools are seats of two different sizes—not two names for the same thing.

Counter-height seating is made for a traditional counter-height surface that’s about 35-37 inches high. The seat height of counter-height stools ranges from 23-27 inches high.

Meanwhile, bar stools are a bit taller. Bar-height counters sit at 41-43 inches high, so bar stool heights range from 28-33 inches high, from floor to seat. Bar-height counters in kitchens also tend to have a raised section, so there are two different counter heights. So, make sure to measure from the higher section, where you’ll put seating, and not from the prep and serving area!

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To double-check that the stools are the right height, measure from where the top of the seat will be, up to the bottom of the counter. There should be at least 10 inches of clearance between the two surfaces, but no more than 15 inches, in order to create a comfortable amount of legroom. If you don’t have enough space between the two, your legs may not be able to fit underneath the counter. Too much space, and you’ll feel like a child trying to sit at the grown-up table, with the counter hitting your chest height rather than mid-torso!

Key Features of Bar and Counter Stools

Once all your measurements have been made and you know what height of stool you need, you can start thinking about style. When choosing bar stools and counter stools, there are a few key features to consider. What you choose depends completely on your personal preferences in terms of look, style, and comfort.

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Backless

Bar and counter stools either have a back (like a regular dining chair) or are backless. Backless stools are great if you have a smaller space since they can tuck fully underneath the counter and won’t take up extra floor space when not in use. However, they are less comfortable to sit on for longer periods of time. So, if a counter is your only dining space, a backless stool might not provide the posture support you need. Stools with backs come in a few shapes and styles. Some have lower backs, only offering lumbar support, while others have full, high backs similar to dining chairs.

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Arm Rests

Like dining chairs, stools come with and without armrests—and whatever option you choose is really just a matter of personal preference. As you might guess, armrests are only available on stools with backs. Armrests tend to give a more formal vibe to your space and will provide additional comfort when you’re sitting for long periods of time. However, they do make sliding on and off your stool a bit more difficult—so stools with armrests are not great for tight spaces!

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Swivel

Swiveling seats are a very common bar stool feature! A swivel simply means that the seat twists all the way around—but the stool legs remain stationary. Swivel bar stools are great if you have an open kitchen/dining/living space, as it allows people to turn and face other parts of the room, interacting with people at the dining table or on the sofa. This lets your space become a bit more dynamic, as you can have more seats while entertaining but people can easily socialize from different seating areas.

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Foot Rests

Don’t like when your feet dangle? Consider a stool with a built-in footrest. Some stools even have multiple bars to accommodate people of different heights, which is a great feature if you have a variety of different people using them. Other stools that don’t have “official” footrests do have a horizontal bar that can certainly be used as a footrest. Having this feature will keep you more comfortable, especially when sitting for a longer period of time.

Stackable

Though not as common, some stools are stackable, so they easily nestle into each other. This is a great option if you don’t use your stools year-round and want to make them easy to store away at the end of the season—a great consideration for outdoor bar areas!

Read Next: Our dining table guide will walk you through all the shapes, sizes, and materials to consider for your dining room table.

Styles + Materials

Once you land on the features that are important to you, consider the style and material of your stools, since this will help drive home the overall design style of your space. While it’s not a one-to-one guide, since bar stools and counter stools have some different styles than regular dining chairs, you can check out our guide to the different types of dining chairs to get a feel for the different styles out there.

But you don’t just want to pick a material that goes with your design style—you also want to consider your lifestyle needs and what materials are most conducive to it. Overall, it’s important to think about comfort, cleanability, durability, and overall style when choosing the right material for your space. For example, upholstered stools will be more comfortable but can be more prone to stains. Metal is less comfortable to sit on for long periods of time but is super durable and easy to clean!

To help you find the right material for your stools, we’ve rounded up some of the most common materials below!

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Metal

As we just mentioned, metal may not be your most comfortable bar stool option, but this is a very easy-to-clean and durable material—making it a great choice for households with kids! Stylistically, metal stools can suit industrial and Modern Farmhouse spaces.

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Wood

A very durable material, wood one of the most popular choices for bar stools. And, depending on the stain or finish, they can really range in style based. A lighter, more natural finish suits a coastal, rustic, or Scandinavian-style space, while a white wood stool might feel more cottage-inspired, and a dark stain will take on a more traditional vibe. Wooden stools are crafted in so many different shapes and styles, too, which has a huge impact on the style of space in which they can work. Since this is a harder material, some people opt to add a cushion to wooden bar stools for added comfort.

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Rattan

A bar stool made of rattan can give a coastal, bohemian, or Parisian chic vibe to your space. Lightweight but sturdy, this material holds up well over time when properly taken care of. It can also be used outdoors when weather-treated, so this is a good material for outdoor dining sets.

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Upholstered

An upholstered bar stool will have a more formal vibe and give your counter a pulled-together look. And, with a bit of cushioning, they’re one of the more comfortable materials for a bar stool! Often upholstered stools will have backs as well, further adding to the comfort factor. However, this material is prone to stains and is more difficult to clean, so it’s not ideal for households with children or large pets! Upholstered stools perfectly suit paces with classic and transitional styles.

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Acrylic

If you have a small, tight space, acrylic bar stools are worth considering. This clear material doesn’t add any visual clutter to your counter area, and it’s also very easy to clean! However, it’s not the most comfortable material to sit on for long periods of time. This material is perfect for glam and modern spaces.

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Leather

Leather bar stools can add some great style to your dining space. Whether you opt for lighter or dark leather, this material adds a touch of sophistication while also feeling very down-to-earth. Typically, leather stools will have metal legs, giving them a sleeker, more minimal look. And, while leather isn’t the easiest material to clean, it ages well—transforming scratches, scuffs, and minor spills into a beautiful patina! This material can suit mid-century, industrial, and rustic spaces.

Want a little more info on each of these stool materials? Check out our guide to dining chair materials to learn more about the pros and cons of each of these materials.

Once everything is measured, and you’ve considered what materials and features you’d like your bar stools to have, you’ll also want to consider spacing. Similar to how you’d space chairs around a dining room table, you want to give the stools ample breathing room so that people aren’t knocking elbows while eating or drinking. Leaving 12-18 inches between stools will give everyone enough space to comfortably sit, eat, and drink. Knowing spacing will also help you know how many bar stools to purchase! After that? All that’s left to do is pull up your stool and enjoy some delicious food and drinks!

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13 Small Dining Room Decor Tips Designers Want You to Know

With WFH and homeschooling still going strong for many families, our dining rooms continue to be do-it-all spaces—aka, the at-home restaurant, office, classroom, and family HQ. But for many of us with small dining rooms, packing in all that function is extra challenging.

So, we’re turning our focus to small dining rooms and how to make the most of them—which is the perfect follow-up to our small living room design tips.

Want more inspo and guidance? Check out our gallery for more dining room design ideas, then get started with the right pieces for your space with our dining room checklist!

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How to Maximize a Small Space

When you have a small space, you want to do everything you can to maximize the square footage you have. That’s why we’re big believers in small space hacks that make any room feel instantly larger. Before we get into specific small dining room design tips, here are some high-level principles that will max out the functionality of even the smallest of rooms.

In a small space, you have to think vertically, maximizing wall space since you don’t have as much floor space to work with. Whether that’s wall-mounted furniture for storage or hanging a sconce rather than having a side table and table lamp, in a small space it’s all about making your walls do some heavy lifting. (This also happens to help the flow of traffic in a small space!)

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You also want to find ways to incorporate hidden storage, so you can max out your space without everything being in plain sight.

And don’t forget about utilizing visual trickery to make your space look larger. Clear and leggy furniture both give the appearance of a more open, airy room. And visual tricks like hanging your curtains higher to draw the eye up or hanging a mirror to help bounce the light and visually open up the space are two of our favorite ways to maximize a small space.

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Small Dining Room Decor Ideas

Want to know how to decorate a small dining room? We’ve rounded up our top 13 small dining room decorating ideas with easy ways to make it work for your home. Read on to make the most of your small space!

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1. Create Better Flow with a Round Table

A good rule of thumb when it comes to small dining rooms? Pick a round or oval table over a square or rectangular one. They create more walk-around space and better flow in a small room. They can also comfortably accommodate more people in a small or narrow room.

Small dining room ideas to try: Try a round bistro table that fits two or four to start. If space is an issue, you can keep it tucked in a corner or against the wall day-to-day, then pull it to the center of the room when entertaining. Pair your round table with armless chairs to further maximize space. Don’t rule out oval tables with leaves that you can add on to extend it to entertain upwards of 10 or more guests!

For help finding the right table for your dining space, consider our guide to dining table sizes and shapes along with our tips for how to choose a dining table.

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2. Opt for a Neutral Palette

Make it a point to streamline your materials and palette. Too many patterns or loud colors can make a small space seem even smaller, so in a small dining room it helps to lean minimal with colors and patterns. Stick to a color scheme that’s simple and cohesive, such as neutrals and natural tones, which will create better visual flow in your small dining space. Woven textures, such as caning and natural fibers, are great for adding an open feel. If you like a little color, bring in pops through art rather than upholstery—a few pieces can go a long way!

Pick up more ideas for opening up a small space with the right small apartment furniture.

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3. Maximize Natural Lighting

In small spaces, good lighting is essential because it helps open up the room. If you have windows, arrange your small dining area near them to maximize natural light for daytime dining. Hang sheers instead of heavy curtains for your dining area windows to allow for the most natural light streaming in.

Small dining room ideas to try: Hang sheers instead of heavy curtains for your dining area windows to allow for the most natural light streaming in. Add a substantial overhead light, like a chandelier or a multi-globe pendant for ample lighting. Shiny, light-reflecting surfaces will help bounce light in a small, low-light space as well.

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4. Stick With a Small-Scale Pendant

Speaking of lighting—good overhead lighting is a must in any dining room. After all, you want to make sure your space is well-lit for evening meals. But in a small space, you don’t want the light fixture to overwhelm the room. So, use a small-scale light fixture so that the overhead light is the right scale for your small dining room table.

Designer Tip: A simple conical or globe pendant light or very airy chandelier will help keep the dining room open while still having a visual impact.

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5. Work Up Your Walls

With any small dining room, vertical space is prime real estate for storage and display, so make the most of them! From showing off decor, like art and mirrors, to adding floating shelves and cabinets that hold your barware and dinnerware, pack your walls with function and style. We love the idea of installing a floating cabinet to hold dinner essentials while keeping storage off the floor to allow for walking space.

Designer Tip: Hang art and wall decor high up to give the illusion of taller ceilings and more space.

Get more storage tricks and ideas with our small space hacks and guide to dining room storage.

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6. Utilize Corners

Every square-foot matters when you’re working with a small dining room. Maximize corners by adding a round table with bench or banquette seating that’s flush against the walls. This works especially great for eat-in kitchen spaces and dining alcoves, where you want a dedicated dining and breakfast nook. After the benches are in place, simply add one or two dining chairs to round out the seating.

See more ways to transform corner areas into compact dining spaces with our tips for how to style a breakfast nook.

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7. Push Your Table Against the Wall

In many dining rooms, the dining table is floating in the middle of the room. But in a small or narrow dining space, you often have to push the table up against the wall. This might feel odd at first, but it will free up walking space. And, if you’re hosting some friends, you can always pull the table off the wall for an evening to fit more people around the table!

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8. Go Minimal and Small-Scale

Bulky furniture often feels visually heavy in small dining rooms. Try bringing in slender furnishings with lightweight and minimal silhouettes, which will provide an open look and feel to a tiny space. Smaller-scale pieces will also help make a small dining area feel larger and more spacious.

Small dining room ideas to try: Stick to furniture with open bases to emphasize an airy look and feel. Opt for seating with slender legs that have a visually minimalist look. Choose a smaller-scale dining table that’s slim and moveable to bring in a lighter, airy vibe.

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9. Add Storage with Open Shelves

Floor space is precious in small dining rooms, but you might still need storage. However, credenzas, which are the typical choice for dining room storage furniture, take up a lot of space. Wall shelves, on the other hand, leave the floor open while still providing some dining room storage. Plus, they’re more flexible and customizable than bulky pieces of furniture.

Small dining room ideas to try: Install floating shelves on the largest wall of your dining room. (It can just be a few or an entire wall of shelves, depending on how much space you have and your storage and display needs.) Fill the shelves with a mix of serving dishes, vases, and perhaps some plants or art. Since it’s open storage, you’ll want to make sure you add pieces that are nice to look at so it’s a styled display.

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10. Save Space with a Bar-Height Table

Bar-height tables can save space in a small dining room, since you can fully (or nearly fully) tuck your bar-height seating underneath your table. This saves on floor space when not eating. But there’s also an optical illusion at play with a bar-height table. Furniture that’s higher off the ground visually looks lighter because there’s less bulk at eye level. So, even if your bar-height table is the same dimensions as a regular dining table, it will create the illusion of more space in your small dining room! Bonus: You can also use this table as a standing desk when working from home!

Need help finding the right stools to go with your bar-height table? Check out our complete guide to counter and bar stools!

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11. Hang (or Lean!) a Mirror

Hanging a wall mirror or incorporating a floor mirror is a classic hack for small spaces to help visually open them up. Mirrors reflect light, which helps open up a room and make the space look larger. Light-reflecting, metallic finishes have a similar effect!

Small dining room ideas to try: Since many small dining rooms don’t have a ton of extra space for decor, a mirror is like a 2-in-1 piece. You get the function of helping visually open up your space, but you can also choose a mirror with a frame or style that complements the rest of your space and adds an intentional decorative touch to your walls.

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12. Use a Bench

Since benches can sit closer to the walls and be pushed fully under tables, they create better flow in a small dining room. When not in use, they save floor space by being tucked under the table. But they’re also great for squeezing more people around a table and are great seating options for kids!!

Designer Tip: Don’t have a dining bench but love the idea of maximizing seating when entertaining? Pull a bench from elsewhere in the house and use it as a temporary dining bench so you can fit more people around the table in your small dining room!

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13. Consider a Glass-Top Table

Clear furniture is a great choice for small spaces, helping create more openness within the room. This makes a glass-top dining table a perfect choice for a small dining room. The transparency allows light to shine through the tabletop—and you can even get away with a slightly larger table if it has a glass top since it feels more open than a solid table.

Designer Tip: If a glass-top table isn’t your style, you could opt for clear, acrylic dining chairs instead, which have a similar effect.

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9 Ways to Style a Breakfast Nook

Cozy and comfy, breakfast nooks make great gathering spots in your dining room or kitchen. A breakfast nook is also one of our favorite dining room design ideas because it’s stylish and minimizes floor space. We also love breakfast nooks because it’s so multipurpose—you can use it for meals, homework, or your WFH office.

Whether it’s a table and two chairs that make up a dining nook off to the side of your room or a long dining table and benches in a corner window area, you can easily create a breakfast nook design in your home with just a few pieces of furniture.

Scroll through for inspiring breakfast nook designs and our tips for creating your own.

breakfast nook

1. A Mid-Century Breakfast Nook

Simply furnished with mid-century modern style pieces, this is a great example of a breakfast nook design because it doesn’t require any built-ins. It’s also the perfect way to make the most of window nook designs in a home.

How To Style It: You can easily do this in any space by pulling two benches and a table into a corner nook. Fill the other side with a dining chair to optimize seating and use for this space.

The Vibe: Natural wood and pops of blue make for a cool palette that’s comfy and calming.

Great For… homes with window nooks or combined living-dining spaces.

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2. An Eclectic Eat-In Kitchen

Take a page from the most iconic breakfast nook kitchen from the Friends apartment! This is one of our top dining room layout ideas since it creates a central spot for morning coffee, cooking prep, and all kinds of drop-in conversations.

How To Style It: This is a great way to incorporate a breakfast nook right into your kitchen. All you have to do is pull in a dining room table that’s proportional to your space. A bistro-sized table with two to four chairs always works.

The Vibe: Think of this kitchen dining set up as the poster child of all eclectic style breakfast nooks, with its open layout, green-painted cupboards, and quirky accents everywhere.

Great For… small apartments or studios where the kitchen has to work double.

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classic breakfast nook with small black table and vintage style rug and art

3. A Traditional Breakfast Nook

You can take an elegant approach to your breakfast nook with classic furnishings. Here, the traditional pieces and accents create a polished sitting corner perfect for breakfast and tea.

How To Style It: You can fill any corner of a room with a pair of chairs and a round table to create an extra eating area. This can even work in a large corridor. If there’s a window, center your table in front of it for a sophisticated look.

The Vibe: Keep to refined pieces, like dark wood furniture, classic lighting, and an ornate rug for a totally trad and elevated feel.

Great For… Large living rooms and homes with wide hallways that have extra space.

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rustic breakfast nook with round wooden table, ladder back chairs and church pew

4. A Rustic Breakfast Nook

This relaxed and rustic breakfast nook creates an open dining area that can easily function as an extension of your living and kitchen spaces. The best part is it doesn’t require any built-ins.

How To Style It: Add a repurposed church pew for a cozy and kid-friendly seating option. Then, put spare dining room chairs alongside it to expand your kitchen and dining space. Anchor it all with a neutral patterned rug and surround it with vintage home decor mixed with new pieces.

The Vibe: Farmhouse style breakfast nooks like this are instantly homey, warm, and welcoming. You can’t go wrong with a breakfast nook that’s bold on rustic decor.

Great For… any family home or small suburban house with an open living-dining space.

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breakfast nook

5. A Contemporary Breakfast Nook

Streamlined with a hint of rustic, this contemporary breakfast nook is the most multipurpose out of the bunch, meaning it’s just as functional for meals and doing work as it is for things like crafts and homeschooling.

How To Style It: Start with a corner upholstered bench for comfy seating, then add a round table so you have extra leg space and can fit more people and chairs in the nook. Pull in a rolling car for school and work supplies. It will turn your nook into a perfect WFH/dining spot.

The Vibe: Contemporary and rustic, this dining nook is visually minimal but feels endlessly cozy and inviting. The perfect balance of style and function.

Great For… a corner nook that needs to seat a lot of people—and work for many different uses.

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large breakfast nook with built-in window seating and large rustic wood table

6. A Modern Rustic Breakfast Nook

If you have an open concept kitchen, this is the ideal breakfast nook design. A mix between modern dining pieces and rustic elements, this is our idea of a perfect communal dining nook.

How To Style It: A large drop leaf table for big gatherings is perfect for a spacious breakfast nook. Pair it with modern dining chairs that offer some texture and padded seating. Top them off with lots of pillows piled on top of built-in benches. Even better if there’s storage in the benches!

The Vibe: Open and laid-back, this brings a balanced mix of casual comfort and modern style.

Great For… any family home or large breakfast nooks that can fit comfy built-in benches.

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breakfast nook

7. A Classic Glam Breakfast Nook

This is an easy way to instantly glam up any corner in a kitchen, hallway, or living room. The design for this breakfast nook is minimal yet chic, and the gallery wall adds a touch of sophistication and personality.

How To Style It: A dining nook can be as simple as a set of glamorous upholstered chairs paired with a classic bistro table in a corner. Round it all out with a mix of art pieces to play up a modern glam collector’s look.

The Vibe: Millennial pastel pink with eclectic art gives this spot curated and collected appeal.

Great For… any small corner in an apartment living room or dining space.

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round breakfast table with bench on one side and two modern chairs on the other

8. A Minimalist Breakfast Nook

The high contrast look can be great in a breakfast or dining nook in a small space. It can add tons of visual impact while distracting from the size of the room, like this modernist spot.

How To Style It: Place a free-floating bench along a wall to mimic a built-in bench. Mix it with contrasting black chairs for some extra seating and a sleek touch. Anchor the whole look with an equally minimal picture ledge of black-and-white photos and art above.

The Vibe: High-contrast style with a cool edge—without sacrificing comfort.

Great For… a compact breakfast nook that’s minimal, open, and easy to pull together.

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breakfast nook

9. A Retro Breakfast Nook

For a retro and sleek take on the kitchen that doubles as a dining space, this eclectic nook design offers a solution with vintage pieces that can work in any style room.

How To Style It: Center your kitchen with a retro metal or laminate table for an eclectic focal point. Then try mixing in materials, like wood and leather chairs and colorful vintage-style rug and art, for an eclectic spin.

The Vibe: It’s all about a retro, funky spin with a dash of old-school cool here. Which basically means vintage style with a ’60s and ’70s feel.

Great For… an open or eat-in kitchen with room for a dining table.

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My Modsy Story: How Modsy Helped Me Bring My Vision to Life

Carlos had ideas of what he wanted for his new home—but he wasn’t sure how to bring it all together.

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Homeowner: Carlos F. Software Sales Rep

Location: Manor, TX

Rooms: Open Living Dining Room

His Style: Atomic Industrial

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The Backstory

When I moved into my new house, I wasn’t sure what to do with my open living room/dining room. It was totally empty, which offers a great blank slate for design. But I had so many ideas of what I wanted and couldn’t visualize how to bring them all into one space. Honestly, I had no clue how to fill the space.

The Design Dilemma

I’m good at choosing furniture pieces that look good individually, but then I get stuck because they don’t look good together. When it comes to coordinating colors, styles, and overall vibe I get totally lost. When I’ve attempted it in the past, things end up not matching or going together. So, when it came to my new home, I didn’t know where to start and how to choose the furniture for the atmosphere I wanted to create.

I’m good at choosing furniture pieces that look good individually, but then I get stuck, because they don’t look good together.

The Modsy Moment

Knowing I couldn’t tackle this on my own, I did a quick Google search for solutions—and that’s when I came across Modsy. I loved the designs I saw on Modsy’s website and how flexible they were with taking into account existing furniture. With the ability to see the concept with my actual room and layout, I knew I had found my solution.

With the ability to see the concept with my actual room and layout, I knew I had found my solution.

How Modsy Helped Carlos

Before working with Modsy, I was frustrated that I didn’t have the design savvy to pull my ideas together and bring them to life in my space. So, I had trouble imagining that Modsy could make the process easy and fun. But I’m happy to report I was wrong! I loved how quickly the initial designs came through and how easy (and fast!) it was to work with my designer to make changes.

The whole process was smooth, quick, and painless—and, best of all, cost-effective. It was so much better than I thought it would be, and with a wonderful result. My designer knew what they were doing. I would have never been able to come up with such a good layout on my own!

My designer knew what they were doing. I would have never been able to come up with such a good layout on my own!

The Real Results

I love my new space! It feels really chill and versatile. I can have a nice dinner date at home or enjoy a relaxing cup of coffee in the morning. I love how the living room and dining room feel like different spaces, even though it’s an open layout. But the whole design also feels really cohesive.

I especially love the decorative wine rack and the accent chairs. I would have never thought of something like those wine racks, and guests always comment on how nice they look. And changing out the light fixture made a massive difference in the space. The layout wouldn’t be complete without it!

My designer really captured my style and helped me figure out how to bring in pieces I already had with new furniture and decor that I wouldn’t otherwise have found. The concept is exactly what I was going for.

My designer really captured my style and helped me figure out how to bring in pieces I already had with new furniture and decor that I wouldn’t otherwise have found. The concept is exactly what I was going for.

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8 of Our Best Tips for Acing the Mismatched Dining Chairs Trend

Do you want to infuse your dining room with a little personality? Then check out this trend we’re loving: Mismatched dining chairs! Chairs are a dining room essential. And when you mix and match your dining chairs—where all are different, or you have two or three different styles—you bring added character and charm to your dining room.

The mismatched dining chairs trend flies in the face of the all-in-one, perfectly matched dining set. Rather, it’s one of those dining room design ideas that infuses your dining room with extra visual interest and flair! It gives your dining room a less formal, more eclectic style. This is a perfect trend for those who can never pass up a solo chair at a flea market or antique store, giving you the chance to show off the different chairs you’ve collected over the years.

But this look doesn’t have to be overly eclectic. There are more subtle ways to mix and match dining chairs as well—in ways that lean both casual and formal. It all depends on the dining chair styles you use.

Want to get the scoop on how to pull off the mismatched chair trend? Keep reading for our designers’ best tips on how to style a dining room with mismatched chairs.

mismatched dining chairs

1. Consider the Size and Scale

When playing with a mismatched dining chair look, it’s important to consider size and scale. Look for chairs that are roughly the same size but with enough visual variances that they feel like different chairs. This will give the set-up a complementary look while still achieving that eclectic vibe of mismatched chairs.

Stylist Tip: This is especially worth keeping in mind if you’re an antique collector or flea market fiend and are buying chairs one at a time!

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mismatched dining chairs

2. Use Mismatched Materials

For a mismatched dining chair look that is less eclectic but still impactful, Try to bookend the length of your dining table with end chairs (also called captains chairs) that add a subtle textural contrast to your space. We used slipcovered chairs in the image above, which adds visual weight and contrast to the slender wooden chairs thanks to the covers’ full silhouette in a soft jute-cotton blend. Other great materials to combine? Wood and cane chairs.

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mismatched dining chairs

3. Mix and Match Shapes

For added visual interest around the table, mix and match different chair shapes. You might not realize how much the shape of a chair’s back influences the vibe for a dining room—but they really do have a lot of impact! So, mixing different shapes not only adds nuance to the style of your dining room, but it adds a lot of visual interest as well. The shapes we chose in the design above, with the round and rectangular shapes, veers more formal, while a wishbone chair paired with a rectangular chair would be much more casual—proof that mismatched chairs can suit a variety of looks!

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eclectic dining room with pink wool rug and yellow accent wall

4. Mind Your Heights

When it comes to mismatched chairs, it’s not an “anything goes” situation. To pull off this look well, you want to make sure all the seat heights are approximately the same. This creates a “level” look and a sense of consistency, even when the styles of dining chairs are quite different. Plus, you want all your dinner guests sitting at the same height, don’t you??

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mismatched dining chairs

5. Keep it in the Family

If you’re more of a traditionalist and like the ease of a full dining set, but want the slightly more casual approach that mismatched chairs offers, try mixing chairs from the same family! For example, in the image above, the captain’s chairs are more of a wingback style—but, being from the same brand, they have the same color of legs and upholstery, and both have the nailheads, all of which helps tie this look together into a cohesive whole. This is a great way to play it safe with the mismatched chair trend.

Stylist Tip: Make sure the fabrics are the same, or are different enough that they’re complimentary. If they’re similar but only slightly off it will look like you tried to go for a perfect match and didn’t quite hit the mark. This goes for both the upholstery and the chair legs.

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mismatched dining chairs

6. Same Color, Different Style

When trying out mismatched dining chairs, color can be a great unifier. Whether you’re taking the flea market approach and every single chair is different, you have two sets of two chairs, or even two chairs and a pew, like we have above, having them all painted the same gives a common thread to the look. This lets you venture into a wider mix of dining chair styles and shapes, but in a way that will appear complementary!

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rustic dining room with sleek wood table and black wishbone chairs

7. Sub in a Bench

An alternate take on mismatched chairs? Using a bench on one side of a rectangular table, rather than two chairs. It will give that mis-matched feeling but with a grounding element that benches bring to the table. To get this look, use matching chairs around the rest of the table, and place the bench opposite two matching chairs on the length of the table. Of course, you aren’t limited to a bench. You could also incorporate stools, a pew, or a settee as alternatives to traditional dining chairs, any of which would add extra flair and personality to your dining room.

Stylist Tip: If you don’t want to clutter your dining room with chairs day-to-day, you could always tuck one or two chairs elsewhere in your home, then pull them out when you have company. Check out our guide on where to put spare dining room chairs for some ideas. Just remove the chairs at the ends of the table and add them back in when you need them!

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mismatched dining chairs

8. Don’t Forget the Table

When it comes to pulling off the look of mismatched chairs, dining tables are just as much part of the conversation in this trend. With an eclectic mix of chairs, you’ll want to make sure your dining room table is stylistically neutral so it doesn’t compete with the overall look. And, while you can use this trend around any table, round dining tables give you a lot more flexibility to lean into the look. Since you don’t have the formality of the “head” of the table and there’s no natural symmetry, you can get away with more varied chair styles. Without that built-in symmetry, your eye won’t be offended by differences.

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Small, Medium, or Large? Our Best Tips for Designing a Dining Space of Any Size

Looking for some dining room design ideas? Whether you’ve recently moved and are designing a dining room from scratch in a new space or you’re simply assessing dining room essentials, size is a big factor in considering furniture and layout for your space. What you can fit in a large dining room will be vastly different from what you can fit in a small dining space.

Different sized dining rooms have different layout and furniture needs. So, the size of your dining area really dictates what will go inside. It will help you choose a dining room table that’s the right size and shape (see our guide to choosing a dining table if you need extra help in that department) and how many dining room chairs to include.

It can be overwhelming to assess what all can fit in your space. So, we’ve created a layout guide for small, medium, and large dining rooms, complete with images and tips to help you know what to include in your space. Keep reading for our ultimate dining room layout guide!

small dining room layout

For a Small Dining Room

The Challenge: Getting all the functionality you need out of a small space.

When planning a small dining room layout, it’s important to keep everything in proportion. A small space means opting for a smaller table and fewer chairs. If you’re including an area rug in your layout, you’ll want to keep that on the smaller size, too (the rug pictured here is 5×8, for reference) to keep it proportionate with the smaller table.

small dining room layout

The Key Furniture

A Round Dining Table: We love using round dining tables in small dining areas, as they offer a lot of surface space for eating, but their shape creates a better flow for movement throughout the space. Here, we went for a tulip-style pedestal table, which also allows more foot room in a small space. In a particularly small dining room or a breakfast nook, you could even go for a cafe or bistro table and only two chairs to really minimize the footprint.

Leggy Dining Chairs: Opting for chairs that are leggy and open helps keep the small space visually open and light. And if you want to have extra dining room chairs on-hand for entertaining but don’t want them to clutter your small dining area, consider other places you can put spare dining room chairs throughout your home.

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small dining room layout

Lighting and Decor

A Petite Pendant: When you have a small dining table, keep your light fixture on the smaller side. This pendant is about one-third the size of this round table’s surface size, which is a good proportion to keep in mind. Keep the tabletop decor on the smaller side as well. A simple duo of a small plant and a candle feels considered and also proportionate to table size.

Decorative Mirrors: To help open up the space a bit, hang a mirror on the largest wall rather than artwork. Mirrors are great to use in a small dining room on the wall opposite a window or natural light source. This opens up the space and helps light bounce around, one of our favorite small space hacks. A piece of artwork on the opposite wall, next to the window, balances out the look.

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small dining room layout

The Supporting Furniture

Bar Carts and Benches: While a small dining room doesn’t offer much space for supporting furniture, you can likely squeeze in a few small additional pieces to help with versatility in the space. A small bench adds an extra seating option for when you need to entertain extra people—but it can easily be tucked into a corner or against a wall so it’s out of the way for daily use. A small bar cart offers a surface for mixing drinks, or simply adds storage for cookbooks, glassware, or as a serving tray. Plus, it can be wheeled around for extra room when needed.

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The Key Elements of a Small Dining Room

  • A small, round dining room table
  • A small light fixture and simple decor
  • A petite bench for additional seating
  • A bar cart for storage and serving versatility

small dining room layout

For a Medium Dining Room

The Challenge: Designing a functional and stylish dining space.

A medium-sized dining room is the most typical sized dining room. It’s where you’ll be able to fit a standard sized table and seating for 4-6 people. To keep everything in proportion, go for a medium sized table, which typically runs around 60” and seats six people, along with a standard rug size, like an 8×10, beneath.

small dining room layout

The Key Furniture

A Rectangular or Oval Dining Table: Either a rectangular or oval dining table is suitable for a medium dining room—though an oval table gives you a bit more versatility to seat more people, since there are no corners to contend with. The standard size of the table and the room itself means you can take more liberties with your combination of chairs and seating options.

Versatile Seating Options: Four chairs suits the size of a medium dining area, but you could keep more on-hand for entertaining. You could go for mismatched dining room chairs, or combine a few chairs with a bench. Either way, you have the flexibility to create a more interesting look with versatile seating.

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small dining room layout

Lighting and Decor

A Proportionate Chandelier: Keep your chandelier in proportion to the table and your art in proportion to the room size. The light fixture pictured here is medium sized, still about one-third the size of the table’s surface.

High-Impact Wall Art: To keep the art in proportion to the space, consider your ceiling height. Here, the ceilings are high, so we took advantage of them with a vertical gallery wall. However, keeping it simple with three pieces keeps the room open and maximizes the visual size of the space. With a more standard ceiling height, you might want to do a horizontal trio of coordinating art pieces.

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small dining room layout

The Supporting Furniture

A Credenza For Storage & Display: Instead of a bar cart like in the small dining room, a medium dining room allows you to upgrade to a credenza. Not only can you display either your bar accessories or even a record player on top for playing background music during dinner, but credenza offer tons of hidden storage as well. You can store table linens, fine china, and glassware or seasonal decor inside. And, while adding plenty of function, credenzas also add a sophisticated and polished touch to a dining room.

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The Key Elements of a Medium Dining Room

  • A standard-sized dining room table
  • Four chairs or a mix of chairs and a bench for more versatility
  • A credenza for added storage and to help proportionally fill out the space.

small dining room layout

For a Large Dining Room

The Challenge: Making use of all the space and filling it out in an intentional way.

For a large dining room layout, you want to make sure you proportionally fill out the space. This means scaling up the size of your furniture and the rug (going for a 9×12), but also adding in additional furniture pieces that you wouldn’t have space for in a small or medium dining room. However, the layout is still spaced out enough for visual breathing room and makes it easy to move throughout the space.

small dining room layout

The Key Furniture

A Standard-Sized or Large Dining Table: While the table size in this large dining room is similar in size to the one in the medium dining room, it has a different look and feel due to the tables around it. However, you could also go for a larger table—perhaps in a farmhouse or rustic style, that has more visual weight to it.

Six Substantial Chairs: We included six chairs around the table to help proportionally fill out the space and make entertaining a breeze. Opting for armchair-style chairs not only further fills out the space but also creates a more formal feel to the table setting. But you can also explore other more substantial types of dining chairs.

Lighting and Decor

A Larger Light Fixture: Since the chairs give the dining table area a larger footprint, we opted for a larger chandelier to be more proportionate to the table and chairs and to make more of a visual statement in the space. We also placed a large lamp on the buffet to give the option for layered lighting in the space.

Surfaces for Styling: With more accent furniture, there are more surfaces to show off art and decor. Make use of the long buffet by styling it with plants, books, and small decorative items. You can also use some shelves in the glass-door bar cabinet for additional display. All of this lets you add extra bits of personality to your dining room.

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small dining room layout

The Supporting Furniture

A Long Buffet: A long buffet offers a lot of concealed storage for dining room essentials. The long surface area not only offers a place for a lamp and styled decor, but it can also be a serving station when you’re hosting guests. If you’re using your dining room as a home office, you can also use your buffet or credenza as a place to stash your work things at the end of the workday to keep your dining area functional for meals.

Accent Chairs: Adding in two flanking chairs adds extra seating options as well as being decorative space fillers to visually fill out the room.

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small dining room layout

A Bar Cabinet: In a large dining room, you have enough space for both a buffet and a separate bar area. But, instead of a bar cart, include a bar cabinet if you have the space. This offers a designated place for bottles, glassware, and bar tools—while also being a beautiful statement piece in the space.

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The Key Elements of a Large Dining Room

  • Furniture that helps fill out the space, including a large table, buffet, and bar cabinet
  • Six dining room chairs, perhaps in an armchair-style for a more substantial look
  • A bar cabinet rather than a bar cart for more storage and to create more of a visual statement

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Types of Dining Chairs: The Ultimate Guide to Finding the Right Dining Chairs for You

Even though we aren’t entertaining much these days, we still need to have a proper dining table and dining room chairs so that you can enjoy a proper meal! In fact, dining rooms are more important than ever because we are spending so much time at home! Along with a dining table, dining room chairs are an essential part of any dining space—peep this Guide to dining table styles if you need help picking out a table to start with.

The sky’s the limit when it comes to dining chair styles—you can find wood chair styles, side chairs with upholstered seats, Art Deco dining chairs, traditional dining chairs, rustic style side chairs….you get the picture. Dining room decor comes in all kinds of options and it’s easy to get overwhelmed with how many types of dining chairs are out there.

If you’re finding it hard to know which types of dining chairs will work for your dining space, we’ve got you covered! This dining chairs guide breaks down all the major shapes, sizes and types of dining chairs to help you find a solution that works.

And if you need a little extra interior design help in bringing your dining room to life, Modsy is here for you! Even though the holidays might look a little different this year, a well-designed dining room can help make the time at home feel special.

Armchair

One of our favorite dining room chair types is the classic armchair.  Often used as a side chair, their larger size adds depth and character to dining room tables. They make a super elegant option and definitely complement a more formal look—but they fit well with more casual styles, too. Dining chairs like this usually have upholstered seats, which makes them more comfortable than hard materials. We love dining chairs that bring both comfort and class to your dining space!

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Side Chair

The classic side chair is one of the most traditional types of dining chairs. Known as a “dinnertime staple,” they take their name from the fact that they sit along the “side” of the table. These types of dining chairs can be more casual in style or super formal, depending on the type of dining room table you have. (Check out our guide to dining table sizes, shapes, and materials if you’re in the market for a dining room table, too!) These types of dining chairs come in all kinds of looks, so you can be sure to find one to match any style you like.

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Parsons Chair

The Parsons dining chair is another dining room classic. It gets its name from Paris’ Parsons School of Design and the dining chair features lean, simple lines and an upholstered seat. This type of dining chair comes in every fabric you can think of so there is an excellent variety to choose from. We love these dining room chairs because they can work for many styles—rustic, transitional, contemporary, modern, traditional mid-century modern—you name it! Dining chairs like this are also comfy to sit on and can fit in smaller dining rooms because they don’t have bulky arms to take up space.

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Wingback Chair

If you want a cozy, but sophisticated look for your dining chairs, the wingback chair might be just right! This dining chair has “wings” along the side of the chair to create a distinctive silhouette—they are often used just at the heads of the table. They are usually upholstered and stuffed with nailheads for a more traditional and sophisticated look. These dining chairs aren’t ideal for kids who make a mess—they are fully upholstered so they do require a lot of cleaning.

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types of dining chairsLadder Back Chair

The ladder back dining chair features horizontal slats spaced along the back of the chair, which is usually made of wood. They are great casual dining chairs and the slats create a light and open look. They work best in more rustic and traditional styles and make a great option for a kitchen table.

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types of dining chairsSlat back chair

Slat back dining chairs feature evenly spaced vertical slats, for a laid-back, quaint appeal. This look works for a variety of styles—traditional, rustic, mission, etc. and the dining chairs can be dressed up for formal settings or toned down for a casual look. They are practical and come in both solid or upholstered seating—a great choice for casual dining and households with kids!

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types of dining chairsWindsor chair

The Windsor Dining chair takes inspiration from early English designs. These types of dining chairs feature a half-circle back supported by vertical slats or rods, along with spindle legs. These dining chairs look great with rustic, traditional, and vintage styles!

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types of dining chairsCross back (X) chair

The Cross Back Chair has an X-shape on the back side of the chair that adds a light and airy look. These dining chairs range in styles from cafe chairs to rustic to contemporary. It’s a perfect choice for a casual dining room with a more stylistic approach. And these dining chairs are usually all wood, so they are kid-friendly and easy to clean!

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types of dining chairsSlope Dining Chair

The Slope dining chair is cool and sleek with a simple silhouette. This type of dining chair features a comfortable upholstered seat, usually in leather or faux leather. They can have a swanky, factory-style feel, making them great for modern rustic to industrial style. Bonus: the faux leather can be wiped down easily, making them super kid-friendly and pet friendly.

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Barrel Back Chair

Barrel back dining chairs have a bowl-like backrest that you can sink into when you sit down. These dining chairs are super versatile—some can swivel back and forth and make great desk chairs too. The upholstered seats are super comfortable for longer sitting, and they are style-forward but not stuffy. We love these dining chairs for mid-century modern, minimal, contemporary, and industrial looks.

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types of dining chairsSplat back chair

“Splat back” refers to the centrally placed, vertical column on the back of these dining chairs. These are usually found in metal, but historically they had a more gothic and English design. The metal chairs tend to be lightweight, making them versatile for indoor/outdoor dining. If you want dining chairs with a cool, industrial-chic look, these are perfect—plus they are super low-maintenance when it comes to cleaning.

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Wishbone Chair

The Wishbone Dining Chair is an iconic Danish design that’s usually made with a wood base and woven or upholstered seating. The elegant, curved frame forms a wishbone shape on the back and they are both comfortable and decorative pieces. This style of dining chair works well in eclectic, mid-century modern, rustic, minimalist, and boho styles.

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types of dining chairs

Cantilever Chair

The Cantilever Dining chair is one of the most unique looking options for dining rooms.  It gained popularity in the 70s and design enthusiasts still love it today! These dining chairs have a flexible form that makes them a little bit “bendy.” They can be upholstered or solid—caning is popular material, too. They work great with many styles, from industrial to mid-century modern

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types of dining chairsSlipcovered

For a more formal look, consider the slipcovered chair—it can add instant sophistication to a space. Slipcovered chairs can be bought as is or you enhance dining chairs like the Parsons chair by adding a slipcover over the frame. They make cleanup easy because the cover is easily removed and washed. This helps these dining chairs last over time—which is great because they tend to be a bit more expensive! They fit perfectly into classic and traditional styles.

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Plastic molded

For a trendy and funky look, try these plastic molded side chairs inspired by the Eames chair! These chairs for dining rooms are lightweight and airy looking—classic Scandinavian style. You can easily wipe the chair clean, so they are perfect for households with kids. And the dining chairs usually come in a solid color with metal or wood legs, making them super versatile and great with minimalist and modern styles!

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6 Unexpected Places You Can Use Spare Dining Room Chairs

When you have a formal dining room, it’s nice to have enough dining chairs on hand for hosting—so, at least six. Because, even if you aren’t having guests over right now, we promise that someday (hopefully soon!) you’ll gather friends and family around your dining table for Thanksgiving dinners or the brunch of your dreams! But, until then, it’s not necessary to have six chairs cluttering your dining room on a day-to-day basis.

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If you’re currently furnishing a dining room from scratch and brainstorming dining room interior design ideas, you may wonder if it’s even worth purchasing six dining chairs right now. Why not buy only two or four now, and then buy more later? Well, for one it tends to be more cost-effective to purchase dining room chairs in a larger set. With some brands, you can purchase all six as a set, along with your dining table, while others let you purchase dining room chairs in pairs. Either way, buying a whole set at once tends to be more economical than buying each chair individually.

But once you have them, where can you put extra dining room chairs when you’re not using them other than stack them in the garage? Where can you store them that will keep them handy without them being in the way? Here are six places to put your extra dining room chairs around your home where they’ll actually be useful when not in your dining room!

spare dining room chairsAdd Entryway Seating

We love the idea of framing your entryway console with two spare dining room chairs. This gives your entryway a stately and formal look, while giving those extra chairs a truly practical use! You can sit on them to take off or put on your shoes, or use them as a surface to set your bags or coats. For a less formal and more eclectic look, you could also use just one chair or put them side-by-side so your set-up is asymmetrical.

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Use One as a Desk Chair

Working from home? A comfortable desk chair is a must. So, if your spare dining room chairs are upholstered, use one at your desk in your home office! Dining room chairs work well in home offices, because they allow for a naturally ergonomic set-up. This is a functional way to put your extra dining room chair to good use, offering comfort and support for long workdays.

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spare dining room chairsSet Up a Kitchen Bistro Table

If you have space for an eat-in kitchen bistro area or a small breakfast nook, add your two extra chairs there! A two-person table can be great for breakfast and coffee—a cozy alternative to eating at your formal dining room table for every meal. And, by using your spare dining room chairs here, you’ll save money by not buying two additional chairs for this space.

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spare dining room chairsTuck One Into a Corner

No one puts baby in a corner! But you can put your extra dining room chair there. Don’t be afraid to simply place an extra dining room chair in the corner of a room—whether that’s your living room, entryway, dining room, bedroom, or even at the end of a long hallway. It’s great for filling corners of large rooms or making an otherwise empty space feel considered. Visually, this is more of an editorial approach—it’s not likely someone will just sit down in a chair in a random corner—but it adds visual nuance to an empty space. And, this way, you can also pull it into the living room when you need extra seating!

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spare dining room chairsMake a Nightstand Substitute

Place an extra chair next to your bed as a makeshift nightstand! This is a fun approach if you like an asymmetrical bedroom layout or have a more eclectic space where something nontraditional would work well. We especially love this approach in a small bedroom or guest bedroom where you don’t need two fully functional nightstands. (Though you can definitely still stack books and an alarm clock on a chair nightstand—it’s just not as great for glasses of water.) This approach gives the space a unique look and also offers a place to sit down other than the bed.

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spare dining room chairsAdd an Extra Living Room Seat

If you want to add some extra seating into your living room, place your extra dining room chair there. You could place it in an empty corner, like we mentioned earlier in this post, or in front of the fireplace as part of your seating area, like in the image above. This works especially well for more substantial dining chairs, like this upholstered option, since it offers comfort and won’t feel too out of place in a living room. Just make sure to style it with other pieces, like a small accent table or a pillow, to make it feel like it really belongs in the space.

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A Room With Many Uses: Tips For Transforming Your Dining Room into a Functional Home Office

Dining rooms have always been spaces that see a lot of action in our homes. So much more than just a space where we share meals, dining rooms have become multi-purpose spaces where we often help the kids with homework or balance the budget. And this was all before COVID-19!

dining room office

Now, more than ever, dining rooms have become the headquarters of the house—a hub of activity and productivity. And, for those of us who don’t have space for a separate home office, our dining room tables are pulling double duty and have become the space where we set up our computers everyday for work. So now, it’s a space for video calling, homeschooling, and so much more.

And converting your dining room into an office? Not always so easy. But it can be done! Keep reading for our best tips and favorite examples of dining room office combos to inspire you!

Don’t have a formal dining room to convert? You can also set up a home office in the living room or guest room! And if you need insight on the best office color schemes for productivity or the best home office desks, we’ve got you covered!

dining room officeHow Can I Use my Dining Room as a Home Office?

If you don’t have a proper home office, using your dining room as an office is the next best thing! A dining room office combo makes for a great set-up because it’s the most ergonomic place in your home, and you already have the basics of what you need for a workspace!

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For home office furniture in a dining room office combo, your dining room table becomes your desk, which is much better for your neck and back than working from your sofa or bed! And, your dining room chairs are already at the proper height for your arms to rest comfortably on the table and for your computer to be at eye-level, helping you avoid back pain!

Not all dining rooms have ample lighting though. We love working with a flood of natural light, but you can always add a task lamp to your dining table for a well-lit workspace, or commandeer a floor lamp from another room in your house!

dining room officeSince you have much more space to sprawl out when using a dining room table versus a desk, don’t be afraid to set up a full monitor! You’re spending 8 hours a day here, after all, so give yourself permission to totally overhaul this space. (You can always put your monitor away on the weekends so you aren’t tempted to log into work on your days off!)

Proper storage is essential to keep things organized and avoid cluttering up your space. Clutter can cause anxiety and stress, and we certainly don’t need any more of that than we already have! So, incorporate table-top organizers for papers, files, and writing utensils, as well as a rolling filing cabinet to keep essential documents within reach!

dining room officeAnd, of course, you can’t forget to pick a comfy chair! For all-day work sessions, you want to make sure you have back support and a cushy seat which allows for good posture. If you have a real office chair, we highly recommend that you use that! If not, dining chairs—especially upholstered styles—are great because they’re more ergonomic than the sofa. And you can always add a seat cushion or lumbar pillow if you need extra support!

dining room officeDining Room as a Work + Activity Space for Kids

Who said office dining rooms were just for adults? Your kids may be out of school for the summer, but depending where you live homeschooling will potentially continue into the new year. And, homeschooling aside, you may just need a space where they can do activities and get creative throughout the summer! So, set your kids (and yourself) up for success with a few clever dining room interior design ideas!

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dining room officeStart by pulling in a bench, if you have one handy. This can help change the vibe in the space, giving it a more “schoolhouse” feeling. It allows for more kids to sit up at the table and makes moving around easier. And you can easily remove it when the work or school day is over to help transition the space back to a dining room!

When creating a kid zone within your dining room, be sure to balance work and play. Incorporate fun activities to help kids keep themselves entertained—from a chalkboard for drawing or games, to a tend that makes a cozy reading nook or for make-believe play time, and plenty of table space for crafts, coloring, reading, and maybe even a little screen time.

dining room officeAs in all kids spaces, we recommend adding baskets for easy clean-up! Baskets are our favorite kid-friendly storage solution, since they look good but they also make it easy for kids to own their own clean-up. And, since they’re low-maintenance and easy to move around, they make it easier to transition your dining room from day to evening.

dining room officeOther Ways to Transform Your Dining Room into an Office

Looking for other home office interior design ideas as you transform your dining room into a home office? There are so many ways to make this combo space work! Keep reading for a few more of our favorite set-ups.

dining room officeA Distraction-Free Set-Up

If you want your dining room home office to be as distraction-free as possible, opt for a more minimal style. A glass table is easy to clean, which is great if you’re using the space for both work and meals! And the velvet chairs make long days of work feel more stylish and fun—not to mention more comfortable than a wooden chair!

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dining room officeRoom WIth a View

Endless video calls aren’t so bad with this view! Don’t be afraid to take over your whole dining room, making space for your monitor, office supplies, and reading materials. You can even keep your printer nearby for easy access to printed documents! An analog clock is also great to help keep you focused without constantly checking your phone to see the time (and inevitably getting lost scrolling through social media.) This charming countryside set-up is also a favorite approach for small home office design ideas when your dining room is your office!

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dining room officeA Workspace for Two

A long table means lots of work space for multiple people. This is great if you’re sharing your dining room office with a partner or roommate. It allows you to each take one half of the table and both have plenty of space to spread out! And, if you’re both working from laptops, it’s easy to put everything away at the end of the workday and continue using your dining room for sharing meals, as well.

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dining room officeA Space of One’s Own

If you’re co-working and want a bit more privacy? Place a tall vase and floral arrangement in the center of the table to create some separation and delineate your space from your partner or roommate’s!

We also love the idea of installing or repurposing shelving for office supplies and books. If you currently use your dining room shelves or cabinets for serving platters or fine china, move them to storage for the time being so you can make the most of your space as an office.

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7 Ways to Put Your Empty Dining Room to Use

Some people just aren’t formal dining room people—and that’s ok! Maybe you have a more casual dining space in your living room or kitchen and don’t need a formal dining space. Or perhaps you just want to prioritize using that room for something else! Regardless of the reasoning, there are plenty of ways to put your dining area to use that don’t involve a table and chairs!

empty dining room designed as a bedroom, home gym, office, and more!

We’ve all spent a lot of extra time at home this past year, so it’s worth considering the function and practicality of each room in your home. Because you want your space to work for you! And if a formal dining room isn’t what you need right now, don’t be afraid to move your table into storage, stash your spare dining room chairs elsewhere in the house, and make this space more of what you need.

Looking for some ideas of what to do with your empty dining room? Keep reading for some of our favorite unused dining room design ideas and multi-purpose space design hacks! (Pro tip: these ideas all work for spare rooms elsewhere in your house as well!)

empty dining room turned into a kid's play room design with lots of toys and cute decor

1. Make It a Playroom

If you have kids, a great way to switch up the use of your repurposed dining room is to create a playroom for them! This creates a dedicated zone for your kids’ toys and gives them a fun space that’s all their own! (And hopefully, doing this saves some of your sanity, so your whole home isn’t littered with their stuff!)

Start by choosing a large, plush rug in a fun pattern, creating a soft space for your kids to play. For an extra dose of coziness, add a pouf, which makes for a fun seat or backrest while reading. We added some cute artwork to the walls, along with a blackboard for drawing or practicing letters. A kid-size table is perfect for coloring and crafts, and lining the back wall with a low bookcase gives your kids a place for toys, books, and baskets that are all within reach for small hands!

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small home office design with clay walls, wooden furniture, and large bookcases

2. Try a One-Person Office

One of our most practical alternative dining room ideas is to make an open office for one! Most dining areas don’t have doors that close them off from the rest of the house—but if you don’t mind the idea of not having a door, you can create a really nice home office in a space like this!

With this dining room home office, we left the middle of the room open so the space didn’t feel cramped and is easy to walk through. We added in additional stools for when someone else stops into your home office to chat. And a narrow and tall wall-mounted bookcase offers ample storage and display surfaces without taking up a ton of floorspace. We opted for a soothing clay color on the wall and in the rug, mixed with other darker earth tones for a space that’s low-stress and promotes productivity.

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empty dining room redecorated as a home office for two in chic, minimal style

3. Or a Two-Person Office

Working from home with a partner? Turn your repurposed dining room into a home office for two! To fit in two desks and storage, opt for smaller and more delicate furniture that will give a sense of airiness to the space. Putting the desks against a wall and perpendicular to one another helps make the best use of the space. And hanging a large piece of artwork in between creates some visual space between the two workspaces. With this arrangement, you still have room for a wall-mounted bookcase for office supplies and decor—a must-have for small spaces!

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guest bedroom with brown walls and a platform bed frame

4. Create a Guest Bedroom

Other uses for a dining room? Hosting guests. It may sound weird, but if you don’t have a guest room elsewhere in your home, this is a great option since guest rooms don’t require much space. In this design, we opted for a bed that has built-in nightstands, which creates a minimal look and makes the room feel less cluttered and more open. Since dining rooms don’t have closets, a simple six-drawer dresser is a great add for guest’s clothes. (And you could even use a couple drawers for your own storage!) Opting for Roman shades rather than curtains keeps the windows unobstructed and allows for maximum natural light during the day.

If your dining room doesn’t have a closeable doorway, you could hang curtains for privacy. Or, if you don’t mind undertaking a larger project, you could have French doors installed!

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unused dining room reconfigured into a home gym with a Peleton bike

5. Turn an Unused Dining Room into a Home Gym

We love the idea of creating a dedicated space to workout at home! This is one of our favorite alternative dining room ideas of the moment. And a home gym design is easier to put together than you might think. We started by hanging up a pair of infinity mirrors to really establish that gym feeling—you gotta make sure your form is on-point, after all! (Plus, the mirrors reflect light and make the whole space feel more open and airy.) And we opted for a blue-green wall color that adds some energy to the space.

If you have an exercise machine or large equipment, like a bike, treadmill, or ballet bar, make sure to create space for that. Then, just be sure to include space for a floor mat for stretching and yoga, and perhaps a storage bench with baskets for easy organization of smaller equipment! We also hung up a hook near the bike for a towel. But, really, it’s all about making a space that works for your exercise needs and your preferred workout style—so personalize and change as needed!

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library design reading room with a leather armchair and large bookcases

6. Relax in an At-Home Library Reading Room

Are you one of those people who has always dreamed of having a home library, with a whole wall lined with books and a cozy chair to curl up in and read? Well, maybe it’s finally time to make that dream a reality! One of our coziest alternative uses for a dining room is to transform it into a reading room—creating a space where you can escape and totally relax, complete with a wall of deep bookcases. You can either max out the shelves with books, or integrate some decor and storage baskets on the shelves as well.

Besides shelving, we placed a comfy swivel chair in the corner, along with a side table for your beverage of choice, a pouf for putting up your feet, and a floor lamp for good reading light. Soft colors and natural materials throughout the space make for a soothing and serene setting.

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empty dining room converted into a TV viewing lounge space

7. Convert Your Dining Room into a Lounge

If you like the idea of having a TV-free living room, you could create a TV lounge in your empty dining room instead! This makes for a fun space that’s dedicated to relaxing, watching movies, and even reading.

To set up this space, opt for an apartment-size sofa and a cool lounge chair to offer enough seating for multiple people to relax but at a scale that won’t overwhelm the space. Mounting your TV on the wall and hanging a small shelf below it for electronics is a perfect alternative to a media cabinet and a great compact space-saver. A C-table is a great versatile and small surface for snacks and drinks—and since it’s on wheels, it’s easy to move it around to where you need it. And poufs are great footrests or extra seats, and can slide under the shelf when not in use!

And if binging TV shows isn’t your thing, you could also create a game room using similar elements! Just swap out the TV and shelf for a coffee table suited for games!

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This post was updated May 21, 2021