Loved the post about the dining rooms and not doing a matched set. But I’m having some issues regarding the dining room chairs.
I’ve been doing some shopping here and there and am shocked at the prices. In fact, some of them cost as much a fairly expensive sofa. Why is that?
I mean, I saw these gorgeous chairs for $4,500.00– EACH.
Clearly, I was in the wrong showroom. I just can’t imagine spending that much money for a chair even if I had that much to spend.
I need at least eight dining room chairs.
But, here’s the other problem, I’m still not quite sure what goes with what. So, if you could clarify some options that would be super helpful.
Oh wait. We need a new table too. We’ve been using two card tables for the last 3 years. lol
I put a cloth on it. I put a cloth on it! lol
And again, sticker shock for days. I mean, $20,000-$30,000 for one dining table? We are thinking of spending about 1/10th of that. We are hoping to be able to do the entire thing for $5,000-$6,000. Most.
Are there really enough people who can afford to spend upwards of $60,000 for a dining room set? And that doesn’t include the shipping and tax which I know adds a lot.
Thank you Laurel,
Cher is absolutely right. Dining room furniture can be phenomenally pricey. But, because of an increase in cheap imports, we can now have furniture for a fraction of the price we had to spend a couple of decades ago.
What about the quality?
Good question. Well, most of it, these days, in my experience is actually pretty good. Can I vouch for that? No, like anything, it’s possible to get something defective. As always when ordering online, order from reputable sources, not places like this that I wrote about here and here.
This is another big topic and I’m only confining it to chairs and tables.
I know that some of you want to know how to get the mix of painted to wood just right.
Usually, the table is a stained wood. Then, I often do a painted chair. Or an upholstered chair but the legs might be painted or not. Then, frequently, at least one other piece in the dining room is painted. That’s often a large china cabinet. And then the sideboard or server might be in a complimentary wood tone to the table.
In addition to all of that, I love mixing a side chair with a different but complimentary host chair.
Who can forget Suzanne Kasler’s magnificent dining room with coordinating but not matched chairs. Brilliant!
First I’m going to show you a whole mess of dining room chairs both new and not-new.
And except for a few chairs, mostly the occasional chairs, I kept at least 90% of the chairs under $250/each and many of them are far lower than that.
And also just so you know, pretty much all of the sources are having big sales this weekend. Early July is a great time to buy furniture!
In fact, this darling bamboo folding chair is only $57.00! I mean, if you had a rustic kind of room, I could almost see these going as the permanent chairs. But they make a great extra chair for a less formal dining room that one can keep in the basement or a closet.
After the dining room chairs, I will showcase several tables.
These are also all reasonably priced tables. Yes, some of them need work.
But this one, a vintage neo-cassical style by Henredon is only $200.00!
WHAT??? Did they leave off a zero?
A detail shot and yes, it needs someone to do a number on it but they don’t make tables like this any longer. They should, but they don’t.
But hey, get some of that restor-a-finish stuff and fix it up for dollars.
If you want a reasonably priced traditional mahogany table, it is going to need to come from a consignment or an antique/vintage shop.
Or, an estate sale or something like that.
The last time I ordered a really fine mahogany table, the retail price was about $12,000.00 and that was in 1999. And even then, there were tables far more expensive than that.
The chairs below are from Chairish and Etsy and most are not new, but some of them might be.
A few things to know about dining room chairs and tables.
First is size of the chair.
Unless a chair is definitely meant to have a high back, I feel that most chairs look best no higher than about 39″. And many look terrific at from 35″-38″
A chair seat should really be at least 18″ wide.
If you find a cheap chair which you love the style and shape but you hate the color and the upholstery, redo it. Or have it redone.
The same goes for the table. And I’m not talking about painting a fine mahogany table in most cases. But some painted tables might not be the color you’re looking for.
I was very excited to find this table and it’s only $675.00 It’s a vintage table by Henredon.
Why am I excited?
Because it’s very similar to one of my all-time favorite dining rooms by Steven Gambrel
For the traditional tables, you could do most of the chairs from the old or one-of-a-kind grouping.
I think this chair from AA importing is quite smashing and looks a lot more expensive than $400.00. It would make a pretty host chair. The host chair should be a little taller than the other chairs. This one is 38.5″ so I would probably not do a side chair more than 37″ And since this one has a fretwork back, I would do a solid back for the side chairs.
Here ya go. I found this from a fabulous vendor on Etsy called Lilly and Co Palm Beach. She has some lovely things! And this custom chair is only $295.00. That’s the Chiang Mai Dragon fabric. I don’t know whether she does further customizations or not, but I think that a red frame would be smashing.
I love this! And yes, you can use a barrel chair as a side chair.
This is a custom chair and a little inside info.
I got the frame here and sent it to the upholster along with the fabric.
This is a good tip. if you are having your chairs reupholstered and/or refinished, have them shipped straight to the upholsterer. You can save on some trucking fees that way.
A word about shipping costs.
Shipping and delivery is expensive. That’s not an area where you want to cut corners. Just suck it up and pay it. :] There is nothing worse than dealing with damaged furniture.
For a rustic farmhouse table, I think it would be fab to do some wicker or rattan chairs.
I think that this cool rattan chair would be wonderful as a host chair and it’s only $199.00!
I think that this would woven chair coordinate nicely and it’s only $146.00. It’s actually nylon, not wicker.
Okay, one more.
I love these French Bistro chairs from Serena and Lily.
Oh, all right one more. ;]
They could go with the drop leaf table below as well. Or in another color
Or, how about this idea? This is actually an outdoor stacking chair. I mean, if you’re raising young kids or are a klutz like me, why not have some peace of mind with a chair meant to get rained on?
Please pin to pinterest for reference
Well, I could keep going but, it’s a holiday weekend after-all, so I’m leaving it here for now and if you’d like to see more combinations, please let me know. Or, we could discuss some ideas in the comments.
If you’re interested in hearing about some fabulous sales and see some of my faves, please click here.
PS: Please check out my latest posting on instagram to learn some exciting news!
And Happy 4th of July to all of my American readers!
Out of all the purchases I’ve made for my homes, the one I never regret is the investment I made in SUPER comfortable, Pennsylvania House dining chairs. I bought the whole set (6 fully upholstered chairs, table and china cabinet) for about $8K back in 2000 while in North Carolina. You can sit on them for hours and they are wonderful. The pattern I picked is now a little tired and dated so I’m having custom slip covers made for them for about $150 each.
The table is another story. The finish was so delicate it was always scratching. I’ve had it refinished and now have a piece of glass sitting on top of it (which shows smudges like nobody’s business). I wouldn’t even imagine trying to use the table for company without a pad and linens so, as a practical matter, company never sees the table anyway.
If I had to do it again, I’d still invest in those chairs. I would have tried to find a cheaper alternative for the table though.
I just went on a quest for a new kitchen table. I ended up at Ethan Allen. There weren’t very many retail stores left that sell solid wood tables at my price point (I was hoping to spend about $1K on the table but ended up at about twice that). I found that EA and Room & Board were one of the few retailers who sell solid wood. I insisted on my husband coming to the store to sit in the chairs because I didn’t want him complaining about them. I would highly recommend that! I had fallen in love with some maple, spindle-backed chairs but he found them very uncomfortable and a little “flimsy.” While a lot of the chairs above are absolutely adorable, I do wonder if they could go the distance for a long dinner or Monopoly game.
8k for all of that is actually a great deal.
But one thing. Just so you know, it’s a common misconception that a solid wood table is the way to go.
The finest most expensive furniture and it’s been this way for centuries are multiple layers of wood– not one solid piece of wood. I hesitate to say laminated, because that implies something cheap, unfortunately. But, in this case, absolutely not. Wood is not stable and this is what keeps it stable and from warping.
Laurel, your blog is amazing!! Love the aesthetic of mixed chairs, but how would one make that work with a round table? I have a 72″ round that seats 10-12; right now I’m just using chivari chairs but I’d like to find a way to look like my dining room didn’t come from the party rental place!! Our room is square so the round table makes the most sense for seating max # of ppl. Thanks!!
Same way as with a rectangular table. I would find two coordinating chairs and go every other one.
Thanks! So not really host chairs- just two coordinating? Do you think there is as much leeway for difference In that situation as with host chairs? Like, would the backs of the 2 coordinating need to both be upholstered, or all backs the same height, or any other general tips like that? Inspiration is much thinner on the ground for this type of table and I really appreciate your wisdom! Happy Independence Day!
No both back would not need to be upholstered. In fact, one is usually not.
I know this question isnt related but Have you done a blog about cow hides for rugs. what to look for and how to prevent curling like a cigar.
No posts on cow hides and most likely never will.
Great post! Craigslist is another fantastic source to find dining room tables and chairs. I’ve been obsessing over a vintage Broyhill Brasilia mid-century modern table and 4 chairs set. It is listed for $680 in Seattle. OMG, after reading your post, I’m going to buy it next week!
Thanks, you are the BEST!!
Thanks Laura. I’ve never bought anything on CL, but I’ve sold a couple of things.
I love Ballard Designs!
I don’t need a new table (or chairs, although that’s never stopped me before), but I do regularly go to estate sales because you never know what you will find. Here in Birmingham, AL, I see absolutely beautiful fine dining tables and chairs all the time, and often they are left at the end of the sale. Usually the estate agents sell them to auction companies who buy up all the remainders at once. If any of your readers are in this area, you should definitely start looking at estate sales first, and then auctions. Even with the cost of new upholstery, you will spend far less than you will on a new piece. And you are so right about the quality: furniture is not made as well anymore, and these older pieces are the heirlooms of tomorrow.
Certain parts of the country such as the south are rich in fabulous furniture. Other places, very little. So, yes, if you’re in a major Metro area in the southern states, this is a viable way to find great deals. But I can’t post them on the blog.
Don’t overlook local auction houses as sources: I just purchased a Karges Louis XV walnut dining table with three leaves and six chairs for $900. I’ll reupholster the chairs but this has to be a fraction of the new cost and this set is still being sold by Karges.
Yes, of course, but not everyone has access or the inclination to do this. I’m one of them. :]
My dining chairs have to do double duty as living room chairs. So I would like an armchair that is upholstered, like the red barrel chair or the white & green upholstered chairs. How do i figure out if they are comfortable enough for sitting in for hours?
I have done that little chair for at least a dozen jobs and used it for dining, desk, living room and den furniture. Everyone loves it. I find it to be very comfortable and also doesn’t take up a lot of space.
Thank you!! I clicked on the link & got the website that has the frames. I never knew it was even possible to buy chair frames. I am going to teach myself how upholster these & then will be able to get exactly what I dream of.
Good luck with that MH!
Love the great ideas in your article! I, myself, would never buy new dining room furniture until I shopped antique and resale stores. I have seen acres and acres of fine quality tables, chairs and hutches at these resources. Younger shoppers typically don’t care about traditional dining room fare any more so it is easy to pick up incredible bargains. They don’t want granny’s mahogany shield back chairs or enormous, expandable tables. They don’t even want a dining ROOM! After you see the resale prices of what originally sold for $60,000 ( usually around $2000 ) you’ll never want to shell out the big bucks for lesser quality new stuff. Yes you might have to be patient and wait to land a preferred style but it’s all worth it. Plus recycling helps the planet!
When I did my other post before, there were a few younger people who chimed in that they enjoyed their dining rooms. So, it’s not all of them, at least. I think a lot of it is the media making people THINK they don’t want something that they really do want!
The timing of this post is absolutely perfect. The dining room is the last room we need to finish in this house. I love the designer I’ve worked with throughout this project and have spent the money for beautiful custom draperies and furniture in every other room. But I balked at the proposal for the dining room. The prices were exactly what you mentioned. The table and chairs were over $75,000. It’s not that I couldn’t afford that (I know, we are really fortunate) it was that I just wouldn’t. I don’t know….sometimes you just come out of the anesthesia.
I set out to find a table myself and scored the absolute perfect one on LH Exchange for $750. Shipping was $500 and worth every penny.
I still had the issue of chairs and while kvetching with my husband and sister after dinner about the struggle we came to the conclusion that we were sitting on the answer. The chairs we’ve been using are from a previous home, they are extremely comfortable and fit the scale of the room.
My new quest was to find fabric to reupholster them in. Yesterday I ordered a lovely Crypton “linen” and scheduled the upholsterer to pick them up. With fabric and labor it will cost $325 for each of the ten chairs.
Your blog is a joy to read!
Thanks for corroborating my reality about the expense of dining room furniture. But cool that you’re able to put something together so inexpensively.
If I had been your designer, I would’ve gone over the budget with you before presenting a plan. I’ve made that mistake before and then felt silly.
i deliberately don’t set budgets for designers. I always want to see the very best options and then I can follow my instincts if it passes the coveting test.
I honestly don’t know what triggered my reaction to the dining room proposal. I had spent far more than that on other rooms and we could easily have afforded it.
I had a dear friend who was a designer. She had a client who went rogue on a renovation by purchasing a tub that everyone told her was a mistake. Long story short, it got sledgehammered into a million pieces so they could get it out of the window instead of removing a wall like they had done to get it in. The whole debacle ran over $200k. I always thought how much those dollars would mean to any number of great charities.
What’s good for the goose and all that… I wrote a check for what I didn’t spend on the dining room to a cause I’ve supported for years.
Again, thanks for your wonderful writing.
Well, from my standpoint, as a designer, I have gotten burned by not setting a general budget. It’s no fun to spend 20-30 hours putting something together and then the client says no because it’s too expensive.
When I was taking clients, I did not charge an hourly fee. So, if I spent that much time sourcing, I’d be out of pocket. Plus, it would’ve been frustrating for my clients.
It sounds like you had a different arrangement with your designer. I presume that she was charging a hefty hourly fee.
I am getting new dining room furniture. I bought a Tulip table from Room & Board. My plan was to use a set of Chinese Chippendale chairs with it. But after sitting in one at my local Ethan Allen store I discovered how uncomfortable the backs are.
Fortunately a Tulip table looks good with any style chair so I switched directions. Now I’m waiting on delivery of a set of caned barrel chairs from CB2.
You know it’s funny. In the mid-90’s before I started my business, I worked for a local decorator who had a small shop. I sat at a small writing table in a Chippendale chair– painted I might add.
Well, I used the back of the chair for a kind of DIY shiatsu. Felt great, but in a painful way. lol
I agree, this is the way to go. I bought all of my wooden furniture at consignment shops. All of it is solid cherry maple or oak. No particle board. For example, I paid $200 for a beautiful cherry dresser, $25 each for end tables and $250 for a solid maple amoire from the 1940s.
Another alternative is an unfinished furniture store and finish it yourself.
I find that the unfinished furniture, while being real wood is generally not very interesting. But in truth, haven’t seen any in a while, so maybe it’s changed.
Great post as always! I went through this process 5 years ago when we bought our home. Our dining table and credenza came from antique shops and we mixed in dining chairs from local stores. I was a fun process and I do love my dining room, but you are totally making me wish I could do it all over again! I am obsessed with the chairs from Anthropologie! And those bistro chairs from Serena and Lily are too cute. If I only had 2 dining rooms…Haha!
I’m with you. I need at least three houses, but someone else needs to take care of them! haha
Great combos, Laurel, as always!
A couple other sources for Henredon, Henkel Harris, Baker, Kittinger, etc., are auctions. I’ve gotten a whole slew of furniture from them — some in near perfect condition, and some were great candidates for painting.
One other potential source for upholstery jobs in your local state prison 🙂 Mine does excellent work. The waiting list is long (even though supposedly *no one* knows about it), but the work is just as good as I’ve paid for elsewhere at 1/2 the cost.
I did know that about prisons. We have a few around here. I wonder how one goes about finding out more about it?
Usually you can go to your state prison’s website and find info on occupational industries — what industries are available and a contact phone number or email address.
Thanks for the info Amy!
Okay Laurel, I’ve been puzzling this for awhile and your post is timely. We inherited a fabulous 1970’s Ethan Allen table and two chairs, and it needs refinishing because of a soft laqcuer that has been damaged with just light use. We are currently considering painting the table top and legs a deep cobalt blue or warm deep mustard and making that one of our painted dining room pieces.
Should we refinish it with wood stain and clear polyurethane instead? Would it be a big faux pas to have an enormous and brightly painted table? Should I stick to bolder colors on smaller pieces of furniture?
Wish I could help you but since I can’t see what you’re talking about it’s not possible. If I were you, I’d research this and look up what it is that you’re questioning and then hit google images or look for the same thing on pinterest.
Love seeing all these choices for dining! It’s been so long since I bought new furniture that I’d probably have a heart attack from looking at prices. I’ll find out soon, since I need a new sofa. But back to dining – about ten years ago I worked for a nice furniture consignment store, and we always got some beautiful things. I confess a few pieces came home with me! One such piece was a solid cherry Asian style dining table by Lexington, with two leaves. It sat on the floor for a couple of months, with many admiring it, but passing it by because there were no matching chairs. Ha! The final markdown came, and it was MINE, for under $200! Now to find some chairs. I frequent local estate sales, and a few months later, came across four Chippendale chairs for $150! Yes! The seat cushions were flattened and grubby, so I reupholstered them with some beautiful linen fabric found at a garage sale for $4. The woman who sold me the fabric said she had curtains made from the fabric in the 70s, and had paid a small fortune for the fabric at the time. My whole house has been furnished this way!
One can definitely get some great deals this way. The only thing is not everyone has local access to this sort of thing due to where they live, and/or they’re not interested in hunting, don’t have the time, etc. But if one does, then it’s a terrific option.
What a perfectly timed post for me! I am having a 10 foot English baluster table made and the thought of buying 12 chairs is a wee bit dauting. I’ve been trying to find something that will be sophisticated enough for dinner parties, but still durable enough for my children –who will no doubt use the table for crafts once I can get past a scratch 😉 Some friends have suggested doing 2 benches on one side, but I’m not sure about that idea. It is sort of a farm table, but an elegant one. Hopefully the chairs you posted can give me some good inspiration. Thanks.
Even if there’s not anything that’s right for your particular table, the sources linked to in the images have thousands of others!
A hunky table needs hunky chairs.
My antique french trestle table is from an antiques store going out of business it came with 6 chairs paid $600. I felt the chairs were too clunky so a couple years later snagged 6 henredon Louis xvi chairs for $300. Got them reupholstered.
In my living room My upholstered furniture is old 60s henredon, baker, got for $50-$100 each, got them reupholstered. Well worth it, it’s well made better scale
That sounds wonderful!
Thanks for the great pictures and ideas. It’s weird but antiques dealers here tell me that no one wants dark wood tables anymore. They can’t sell them. My dining room has no ceiling walls or floor right now but when I’m ready I know I’ll be able to find a beauty. I saw a gorgeous inlaid walnut the other day for $400! Crazy. My Reno creeps along. We are foing the foundation now. Sigh…… But the garage-come cottage is nearly done and the kitchen plans will be finished next week. It’s Canada’s 150th today (from a colonial perspective that is). Anyway happy canada day and happy July 4.
It’s true. A lot of people especially in certain areas don’t want dining tables any longer. However, the overwhelming consensus of readers here state that they could NOT live without their dining room. Okay, they could live, but would be miserable.
It is not everyone, but this is why these fabulous vintage pieces are so CHEAP! They largely come from estate sales and there’s a ton of ’em. That is why you can get a steal these days!
Even if you had to refinish the whole thing, you’d be getting a $15,000 table for a fraction of the price. Love that!
Happy Canada Day!
How did I not know about restor a finish?! Gonna check that out.
Husband scored an ancient oak table from a local university surplus sale, stripped off the laminate they’d covered it with and refinished it with danish oil for our dining/everything table. Since I count his labor and time as free, we got a dining table that easily seats 10 adults for $50 😀
We are in dire need of a seating upgrade but way cash strapped. I’m thinking of getting unfinished chairs from Home Cheapo and white washing them… with kids and no funds upholstery is out for now 🙂
Ya know, I only found out about restor a finish a couple of months ago when someone clued me in! And then 100s started singing its praises! lol
Home Cheapo. hahahaha Love it!
You are absolutely right. I fell in love with a Mark Sikes dining room using his line for Henredon. Since my budget could probably buy only one chair, I looked on Craigslist and Ebay. I got 6 painted Henredon chairs (Louis oval back) from the 80’s or thereabouts for $500. They look almost exactly like Mark Sikes new ones. I also found a Henredon dining table from the same period for about $1000. Uship got me reasonable shipping. Now, I had some work in repainting the chairs myself, and paid for reupholstery. But the dining table was perfect burled walnut. I love the look of a dark table with light chairs. Now I feel very smug with my gorgeous set!
There ya go. Walking the talk! Thanks for sharing your great story!
Yes, it is hard to stomach the new prices when there are so many gorgeous vintage Knesset of excellent quality and a more manageable price.
Is that an auto-correct Knesset of some other word? Must be. That’s Israel’s parliament.
Curse of autocorrect ;). It was supposed to be ‘sets’. Or, you know, high minded conversation segue into Israeli politics? Sure.
haha. no problem Taryl.
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