How To Mix Dining Room Chairs Like A Pro

freaking-out-over-your-paint-colors

 

Hi Everyone,

As promised, I am continuing with the decor refresh we began last Sunday for a traditional living/dining room. Thank you too, for the many terrific comments. I love your ideas!

 

If you missed Sunday’s post about working with inherited furniture, or just wish to review it, you can find it here.

 

Okay, I was supposed to move into the living room. However, three hours into working on this post, I realize that this post needs to be about how to mix dining room chairs.

 

A lot of you have been asking, in any case.

While we’ve discussed dining room chairs in this past, (and here too) we’ve not discussed the art of mixing dining room chairs. Of course, like most things decorating, it’s quite a broad topic.

However, I’m going to tell you what I’ve discovered over the years. And, hopefully, you’ll get some good ideas for using two or even three different chairs around your dining table. And, not have it be something your sister-in-law looks askance at. She better not! ;]

 

Why do you need to mix dining room chairs, Laurel?

 

Well, if you’re starting from scratch, you don’t.  You really don’t.

 

Baker Dining Table from 2002

For instance, you could have all side chairs. (Although we did two armchairs for when the table has a leaf in it.) I did this room 17 years ago!

And, you can do all side chairs even if the table is always rectangular or oval.

 

better-homes-and-gardens-laurel-bern-interiors-christmas-dining-room-low-ceiling - Oval back chairs - discontinued Baker Furniture

Above, another round table in a room I did in 2001 that made it into Better Homes and Gardens. The chair and table are from Baker Furniture, but sadly, both are discontinued. The fabric on the chairs is a heavy damask from Pierre Frey. Yeah, it also has bit the dust.

 

OR, you can also do all armchairs.

 

diningroom-sam-allen-interiors-wonderful-slipcovers-on-the-dining-chairs-in-blue-and-white-ticking-stripe

Sam Allen Interiors

One of my favorites and a lot of other people too as this is a very popular image on Pinterest.

This armchair style lends itself to doing all of the chairs the same. But, do you? No, you don’t.

 

Elise Dining Chair Pier One Imports
You could maybe do a side chair like this Parson’s style with a lower back and pretty seat detailing and then have a coordinating slipcover made.

 

Chiang Mai Dragon - barrel chair by LBI - how to mix dining chairs

 

This is another chair that would lend itself to being used as only armchairs. This is one of my favorite occasional/dining chairs ever! And, another room by me. (with my favorite sectional available at Serena and Lily and also Williams Sonoma Home!) I once saw a dining that had chairs like this, but slip-covered. It was a long time ago and it was by the brilliant designer, Mariette Himes Gomez.

Oh, BTW, I designed this chair. It’s actually a chair frame from Chervan that I sent to my upholsterer to create for me.

 

However, I was so unhappy with what he did here. And, it never occurred to me that he would do what he did.

 

Schumacher Chiang Mai Dragon Lacquer - Decorator

This fabric, the iconic Chiang Mai Dragon has a mad large repeat (45″!) and I sent him enough fabric for him to use it all. He knows better! One dragon is fine, but I should not be seeing three dragon heads on the front of this petite chair!

 

This fabric comes in a bunch of gorgeous colorways and also as wallpaper.  You can purchase it here.

 

Dining Room by Gomez Associates and John Mayfield

Dining Room by Gomez Associates and John Mayfield – photo Durston Saylor

 

Edit: June 13th. I found one example of a dining room with the Mariette Himes Gomez barrel chair. (above) The one I saw had this chair with slip covers. It’s a little bigger than the Chervan chair. I like this one, but actually I like the Chervan chair even better.

 

What about doing the matching armchair with side chair?

 

Gil Schafer dining room with warm rusty red walls

Yes, I do that all the time. Above is superb example by one of my favorite designers, architect Gil Schafer. Actually, the interior design is most likely by Miles Redd as they frequently collaborate. The tell, in this case? The drapery with the custom ruffle edging.

 

But, what I do the most often is a different finish for the chairs. A different finish than the table, that is.

 

One of my favorite looks is a wood table with painted chairs.

 

 Laurel Bern Interiors Portfolio Bronxville Dining roomHere is the oft-published Bronxville dining room from 2013! I remember my client kept asking about a rug and I kept saying, “no.” I rarely say, “no,” however, in this case, I felt quite strongly about it.

 

The table is round and the room is square.

 

(18′ x 18′) If she had made a big fuss about it, I would’ve conceded and done a 12′ square custom seagrass rug.

Quadrille Veneto in New Apple on Tint – available here retail. Five yd minimum.

In case you are wondering, the chairs are by Aidan Gray (but discontinued) and I had them reupholstered in Quadrille Veneto fabric in New Apple on Tint. The dining table is custom-made by Englishman’s. They are one of the 36 sources in Laurel’s Rolodex that I can’t live without. Their prices are quite reasonable and their products are sublime.

 

Englishman’s helped sponsor my trip a few years ago to the Atlanta Furniture Market– Americasmart.

 

Englishman’s also made the custom china cabinet. It’s made out of yew wood. It’s difficult to see here, but the painted blue inside is one of the colors in the wallpaper by Thibaut.

 

If you love round dining room tables as much as I do, here’s one of my favorite posts about them. And almost every example has chairs in a different finish; usually painted.

 

Room designed by Suzanne Rheinstein gracie wallpaper - round dining table
One of my faves from the post and inspiration for my room is this stunner by Suzanne Rheinstein. Looking at the image more closely. Do you see how the use of plants and accents totally elevates the space?

 

And, I adore how they painted the back of the exquisite built-ins, the dark green.

But, what is going on along that wall? It looks there’s a chair that’s blocking the door? I can assure you that Suzanne did not design this room with a chair blocking the door!

So, let’s say you have six or eight dining chairs and you have a rectangular or oval table and wish to do two host chairs that coordinate with the side chairs.

How does one do that?

Well, this is one of my favorite things to do because I think that it’s a great look.

 

One common reason to do a different chair for the host chairs is the situation with Pamela. (her real name) ;]

 

The chairs are old and it does not appear that she has the arm chair version. So, if she needs more seating, she’ll have to do a different chair.

 

What are the other rules of thumb regarding how to mix dining room chairs?

 

 

Well, these are Laurel’s rules. But, I generally operate in a logical (or try to) fashion.

So, here goes.

 

The host chair needs to coordinate with the shape of the side chairs in some fashion or other.

 

However, by coordinating, it doesn’t necessarily mean it needs to have the exact same shape. This begins to fall into the art of design, I feel. And, it’s like John Singer Sargent trying to explain how he gets his paintings to look like that.

Generally, however, if your side chair has straight lines, the host chairs will too, for the most part. But that doesn’t mean that the legs need to match. Nor do they need to be the same color. I realize that this is probably more vague than you were hoping for. But, I’m hoping that with some examples and a few other things to look for, that it will begin to make some sense.

 

Hilal - Chinese Chippendale side chair - wayfair

 

For instance, you could have a Chippendale side chair with straight legs like this one I love from Wayfair.

 

Chairloom_David Hicks fabric - wing chairs mix dining room chairs

and a small wing chair with cabriole legs as shown on Chairloom.

 

Scale is very important for the host chairs and well, the side chairs too.

And ugh. It is difficult sometimes to find dining chairs that are not HUUUUUUGGGE!!!

And, on top of it, older chairs are almost always smaller than most chairs you find today.

 

However, most the time the host chairs are at least the same height or taller than the side chairs.

 

dining room inherited furniture

The above chairs could also be a good option if Pamela wanted to change all of the chairs. Of course, she doesn’t have to do that. That style wing chair, I think also works with the current side chairs. Even, the geometric is a possibility if she changes the rug to seagrass.

 

Let’s look at some other options for Pamela’s dining room for host chairs.

 

inherited furniture- vintage dining room set

Chairish - pair-of-vintage-french-louis-xvi-style-leathernailhead-chairs-how to mix dining chairs

  These chairs from Chairish measure 24.5ʺW × 21ʺD × 38ʺH.

 

The shape is complimentary to Pamela’s chairs and they are early 20th century.

 

I found out that Pamela’s side chairs are 35″ high, so 38″ is perfect for a host chair. One important consideration when there’s a dining table with an apron is how much clearance do you have if you wish to tuck the arms under a little.

Normally, when sitting in the chair, it isn’t a problem because you wouldn’t need to tuck the arms under the table apron. But, if you do for some reason, it might be good to check that out. What if the color of the wood is different? Sometimes it’s fine. But if you need to tweak it, you could get some minwax Polyshades. But, please, I would try to test in an inconspicuous place first. Or, have a pro do the matching and refinishing.

 

Ethan Allen blue and white dining room - how to mix dining room chairs

Above is another pretty wing chair from Ethan Allen that looks nice with this Chippendale style chair. Wing chairs are usually taller than most host chairs. But a wing chair for a dining area is usually only about 29″ high and up to 45″ tall.

Chairloon Chippendale style dining chairs

Instead of the EA Chippendale side chairs, I prefer this more authentic looking vintage Chippendale style chairs that have been refurbished by Chairloom.

 

Antonia Arm chair - Ballard Designs

This is the Antonia Bergere chair from Ballard Designs. I believe that it has been discontinued.

 

Antonia armchar - Bergere - Ballard Designs - discontinued

Here it is in a living room from Ballard Designs. This image gives a better idea of the scale which I think is excellent for a host or occasional chair. Other companies make similar chairs.

And, this one is black. Could you just do the chair in black and leave the side chairs the wood color. Yes, absolutely. But, something I would probably do is paint one other piece black, like maybe the china cabinet.

Another way to mix dining room chairs is to mix three different chairs

 

Mix dining chairs - S Kasler - via House & Garden
The copyright extortion trolls* got mad at me for posting this a while back so I took it down, but it’s the best example out there of mixing three different chairs. And, it’s all over the internet, in any case. Plus, it’s a gorgeous dining room by Suzanne Kasler.

(*no worries; my lawyer has gotten them off my back.)

It’s difficult to tell for sure, but it looks like the arm chairs are the armchair version of the blue side chairs. In this example, one might not think to mix these shapes.

 

But when looking at the room as a whole composition, the painted chairs totally work. That is the genius of Suzanne Kasler

 

I also see an armchair version of the painted chair. Love those skirts on that chair too!

 

joe-nye-flair-dining-room
One of my favorite dining rooms by the late (and great) Joe Nye featuring that fabulous wallpaper by Gracie. As you can see, the two different chairs look nothing like each other. However, the scale of the chairs looks lovely together.

If the table was extended and you needed to seat 10, could you do a different host chair?

Yes, you could.

square back Louis XVI armchair-ballard designs
I could see doing the Ballard Designs discontinued chair with the black frame and either off-white or upholstery to match the drapery fabric, perhaps.  Or, the one above which is not discontinued.

 

Let’s look at some more dining rooms to see how to mix dining room chairs like a pro!

 

finding_lovely - instagram - mix dining room chairs like a pro

via @finding_lovely on instagram

I love how Jackie Hempel mixed this square-back chair from World Market with a rattan/wicker chair from Pier 1. However, I could not find this chair at Pier 1, only one like it without arms. Hmmm… that seems to be the theme of this post.

 

Discontinued

 

Ha! (but not really funny) Welcome to my (old) world!!! Right designers? It’s like you finally find the right dress for a special event after looking for three months. Only they have every size but the one you need.

 

Nancy Keyes (@nancy.keyes.design on instagram) beautiful eclectic dining room - coordinate lighting - bronze and crystal chandelier

I love how Nancy Keyes mixed a vintage side chair with a contemporary chair for the host chairs. I think that the shapes are quite complementary. Please follow Nancy on instagram.

 

how to mix dining chairs like a pro

 

James Michael Howard dining room
Another favorite dining room by James Michael Howard. I love how these host chairs complement the side chairs. Could he have added a similar skirt to the side chairs as Suzanne Kasler did in the blue dining room way up? Yes, absolutely.

But, maybe he kept them dark because his guests are slobs?

I’d fit right in.

 

xo,

 

Please check out the newly updated HOT SALES. One note. There’s a technical glitch (they are trying to fix) regarding One Kings Lane and if you click on one of the images which is supposed to take you to that product page, you’ll go to the OKL home page. The only way to work around that until they fix it, is to do a search of what it is you’re looking for, once on the site. So, if it’s a Robin Bruce sofa, for example and it’s green, you can search for it that way.

 

5th edition rolodex-post-graphic - November 2018 - A unique shopping guide with hundreds of sources created by Laurel Bern

  • Donna - June 16, 2019 - 8:36 AM

    Hi, Laurel, Love this post! But have a husband who would kill me if I painted the chairs. My question is, are tablecloths outdated? It is one way I use to break up all the wood. Thanks!ReplyCancel

    • Laurel Bern - June 16, 2019 - 12:10 PM

      Hi Donna,

      It depends on the table cloth, I think. But, it’s true. You don’t see them so much in magazines.ReplyCancel

  • Carolina VG - June 15, 2019 - 11:09 PM

    Laurel, if you would have to pair Windsor chairs what other style or type of chair do you think would match?
    Thank you!
    CarolinaReplyCancel

    • Laurel Bern - June 16, 2019 - 3:07 AM

      Depends on the Windsor chair. They come in dozens of shapes and sizes.ReplyCancel

  • Jan P - June 14, 2019 - 1:27 PM

    I am going to re-do my living/dining combo room into a large dining room. And I am an abstract artist so the walls will be white for gallery purposes. When I was 25 my ex and I purchased a lovely (to us) Thomasville cherry, Queen Anne style breakfront, table and chairs. I have since added a Romweber walnut buffet. I can’t for the life of me part with my matching set but I could paint it. I have both leaves in it and have pulled in some ladderback, rush seat chairs, and am going to re-upholster some old Queen Anne wingback chairs in I think chartreuse but not sure about what to do with the rest of the conglomeration. I want it to look like an event space art gallery. eeekReplyCancel

  • Carolina VG - June 14, 2019 - 8:16 AM

    Hi Laurel!
    As usual… Great post!
    Beautiful coordination of pieces and finishes, very subtle and elegant.
    I didn’t see any square tables… I might think you can go as for round tables but would you have any special consideration for square tables?

    Thank you!
    CarolinaReplyCancel

  • Marsha Stopa - June 13, 2019 - 10:50 PM

    Thank you thank you for this highly informative and useful guide! You answered all my questions about building a dining room set from scratch around a vintage table. I scanned craigslist right after reading this post and voila! I found several likely candidates for side chairs. This hunt will be a lot of fun now! Thanks again.ReplyCancel

    • Laurel Bern - June 16, 2019 - 3:01 AM

      I’m sorry I missed your comment Marsha! Something must be up with my notification thingy.ReplyCancel

  • Val - June 13, 2019 - 5:57 PM

    Amazing post, thank you so much our dear Laurel! I’d love to read about architects vs decorators. Who made what? Who knows how to stack moldings onto each other? Who should know how to choose a trim? Is it just an aesthetical choice or… is there any rules. And last question: do you know any buying groups you can recommend in Facebook or anywhere? Ok, I’d better shut up with my burning questions. So many topics out there I’m eager to read. Please don’t hate me!ReplyCancel

    • Laurel Bern - June 13, 2019 - 10:12 PM

      Hi Val,

      I don’t hate you; I just really, really want to watch this movie! lol There are some posts here about mouldings which should answer some of those questions.

      Architects have overlap with engineers. Somme are better interior designers than others. And interior designers have some overlap with architects, but basically are not involved with construction in terms of structure.

      I do not know of any buying groups.ReplyCancel

  • Jo in CT - June 13, 2019 - 5:36 PM

    Love most of your ideas, but you lose me when you mix side chair styles….to me that just looks like you borrowed any chairs you could from friends and family, sets my teeth on edge.ReplyCancel

    • Laurel Bern - June 13, 2019 - 10:08 PM

      Hi Jo,

      Well, we can’t have that, so I forbid you to mix your chairs.;] Just ribbing you a little. It’s absolutely fine to NOT like the look. It’s not for everyone, just like everything else.ReplyCancel

  • Mary E - June 13, 2019 - 5:09 PM

    Hi Laurel,
    I’ll never forget the image I came across of an old farmhouse table surrounded by Eames molded chairs. And each one was a different color!
    I thought that was such a great idea.ReplyCancel

  • Cheryl - June 13, 2019 - 2:12 PM

    Thanks for responding, Laurel. I’m mental about this, and somewhat hypocritical. Thanks for all your info, I love these posts you pull together, even the ones that have no application to my life.ReplyCancel

  • Danielle - June 13, 2019 - 2:11 PM

    The stars always seem to align for me with your posts, Laurel. I’m about to recover some original Drexel Profile midcentury modern chairs to go with upholstered bench seating that’s being built in our lodge-y home. My contractor doesn’t “get” my love of things that have a bit of history, including parts of the house. He thinks everything should be new, new, new. But I’m not giving up these chairs. I am the second owner they’ve ever had, I bought them from the original owner in La Jolla, CA when we were first married. The table will have to go into storage, but I’m keeping it, too.

    I love them and they’re perfect for the space, they don’t block the view out to the mountains. Now I have the confidence to proceed.ReplyCancel

    • Laurel Bern - June 13, 2019 - 10:06 PM

      Hi Danielle,

      What I don’t get are contractors who haven’t learned to keep their yaps shut! Damn!!! There’s nothing for him to get; it’s actually none of his business. So there!ReplyCancel

  • Donna Fedor-Brann - June 13, 2019 - 1:58 PM

    Laurel,

    Wonderful post. Would you be so kind as the share the designer for the blue and white living room that features the Antonia Bergere chair? I’d like to use this image in a post I am doing and I do not like to use images unless I can credit the designer.

    Thank you so much!
    DonnaReplyCancel

    • Laurel Bern - June 13, 2019 - 10:03 PM

      Hi Donna,

      I’m sorry, I didn’t make it clear, but that image is also from Ballard Designs. I made the correction.

      In addition, my photos are also named and alt tagged with the source, so that when it’s pinned or someone else saves the image, the information is right there. It’s also very important to me that images that are not mine are properly credited and that if they end up somewhere else, the info of who they belong to goes with them unless someone changes it.ReplyCancel

  • Risa - June 13, 2019 - 12:01 PM

    EM, some dining arm chairs, the ones without upholstery on the arms and back, are constructed with the arms attached with bolts or screws. These arms may be able to be removed and the resulting holes filled in with either discrete wood plugs or wood dough painted or stained to match the chair.

    The result is a new side chair.ReplyCancel

  • Fenella - June 13, 2019 - 11:28 AM

    Another thought-provoking post, Laurel!

    I’m always fascinated by what it is in room images you use that caught your attention, such as in the Suzanne Kasler room. I noticed the substantial trim is painted the same colour as the walls, for instance?

    Anyway, who has a huge set of matched dining chairs any more! My favourite dining chairs we pulled off the truck at Value Village (thrift chain) that didn’t make the grade there, lol. They were tatty, but perfectly usable during grubby renovations. They were reproduction Georgian open-arm chairs, and we could sit in them all day, they were so comfortable. Properly sprung upholstery, open arms which made access/egress for the cats particularly smooth as well. Loved them.

    We lost them, unfortunately, and I’m having a heckuva time finding replacements. :`(

    They looked like these, except mine were $10 each, not $14,500, lol.

    https://www.1stdibs.com/furniture/seating/chairs/18th-century-english-chippendale-mahogany-upholstered-open-armchair/id-f_7031283/ReplyCancel

    • Laurel Bern - June 13, 2019 - 9:59 PM

      Hi Fenella,

      $14,500? Are they barking mad? Rhetorical question. That’s known as a Martha Washington chair. You should probably be able to find them on Chairish or Etsy. I just looked up Martha Washington Chair. This shop on Etsy has some nice refurbished vintage chairs. Not $10 each but most are under $400 each which is quite good.ReplyCancel

  • Donna Blass - June 13, 2019 - 11:06 AM

    I LOVED these last two posts on how to incorporate inherited furniture into a modern/classic interiors, and particularly your endorsement of painted chairs around a wood-finish dining room table. (At present, I have Grandma’s dining room chairs packed away, awaiting a coat of Annie Sloan Old White and some Quadrille fabric, to be completed once my two young grandsons and their parents move to their own home!)

    The prevailing sentiment today is that “…your kids don’t want your furniture castoffs” but it’s amazing how some of these pieces can be picked up for a song at thrift shops (if they’re not passed down to you) and then refurbished with stunning end results. Thanks for illustrating this point so beautifully. 🙂ReplyCancel

    • Laurel Bern - June 13, 2019 - 9:52 PM

      Hi Donna,

      Thanks so much and I bet that your chairs will be stunning!ReplyCancel

  • Janet Lorusso - June 13, 2019 - 11:01 AM

    Another excellent post, Laurel! I love mixing dining chairs and adding slipcovers or chairs with more upholstery…dining rooms seem to always be in need of fabric with all the wood pieces!ReplyCancel

  • Marianne - June 13, 2019 - 10:42 AM

    Great article! Don’t forget to match the seat height of the chairs. I matched wingback host chairs for a client with a slightly different seat height (1/2”) but the wingbacks had a softer cushion. The clients did not like sitting lower than their guests. Our upholsterer saved the day but I have never made that mistake again. Always make sure your seat heights match.ReplyCancel

    • Laurel Bern - June 13, 2019 - 9:50 PM

      Hi Marianne,

      That’s a good point, but 1/2″ is a problem? Maybe because of the softness of the cushion it was more like two inches? But, I’m not sure that I would notice even an inch as people are different heights to begin with and some have longer torsos, etc.ReplyCancel

  • susie - June 13, 2019 - 10:09 AM

    I have chairs around my table that are all the same wood tone and all have caned seats, but they are all slightly different. Since I found them all at resale shops, they ranged in price from $20 to $65 each.ReplyCancel

  • Denise Manno - June 13, 2019 - 9:59 AM

    You certainly make it look easy Laurel. I’m going to give it a go, following your suggestions. I think I will try to coordinate the host chair fabric with the couch in the adjacent living room, since my dining room is fairly neutral. The couch also happens to be the same shade of green of the moire fabric that lines the china cabinet. Thank you so much, as I would have never thought of incorporating these details before discovering your blog!ReplyCancel

    • Laurel Bern - June 13, 2019 - 9:47 PM

      Thanks so much Denise! It’s only my years of experience talking, is all.ReplyCancel

  • Em - June 13, 2019 - 9:54 AM

    Whoops! Sorry for speed reading… I meant ChairloomReplyCancel

  • em - June 13, 2019 - 9:52 AM

    The set would be very similar to the ones in your Chairish photograph (although they’re a 90’s Thomasville version).

    I wouldn’t follow up but I do think a lot of ppl purchase the six “chairs that come with the set” and think about adding later. I suppose you could remove the arms and fill the holes…but am intrigued by just introducing something else as you suggest.ReplyCancel

    • Laurel Bern - June 13, 2019 - 2:02 PM

      Hi Em,

      Sometimes the arm chairs are slightly different to accommodate the arms. So, even with the holes filled in, it might look funny amongst the other side chairs. And yes, one can always do some attractive folding chairs like the way cool folding bamboo chair I think is still on the hot sales page. I suppose I could go and check. Right? haha.

      Yes, they are still there. $141 for four chairs and they are so good looking. I think they would look great with a lot of different styles. And anything is better than those hideous metal folding chairs. ugh.ReplyCancel

  • Christine - June 13, 2019 - 9:46 AM

    Great post. I purchased a vintage Thomasville French Courrt dining table (so much heavier than I expected) that has gorgeous lines and extends to 108” which I need for the room and holidays. The chairs are similar shape to the white ones in the room you showed by Suzanne Kasler, but it only came with 6 chairs and I need 10. I knew I would have a terrible time finding more of the same chair so your post is timed perfectly.

    This set is lovely, in need of some work but new quality furniture is not easy to find, and I love mixing in older quality pieces with new.ReplyCancel

    • Laurel Bern - June 13, 2019 - 1:58 PM

      Hi Christine,

      Oh, I’m so glad and I love that style of chair that’s based on Louis XVI. He’s the neo-classical style, so IMO, one can never go wrong!ReplyCancel

  • Lily - June 13, 2019 - 9:32 AM

    Thanks for this! I think you answered half of my question on the green post. You mostly talked about the chair shapes, but you showed lots of fabric pairings. I daresay I might follow your throw pillow advice for my chairs. And really, I think my whole answer is that I should stop worrying about it.ReplyCancel

    • Laurel Bern - June 13, 2019 - 1:56 PM

      Hi Lily,

      Too funny, if you see my comment to Nancy Keyes just before yours. But she has a beloved and gorgeous red poodle named Lily. So, it was really funny to see your name next to her comment!

      Yes, pretty much don’t worry. But, always be mindful of the room as a whole. That pretty much encapsulates everything!ReplyCancel

  • nancy keyes - June 13, 2019 - 9:08 AM

    Good Morning, Laurel! I woke up to several new followers on IG. I see I have you to thank for that! Great blog and as always THANK you so much for your support. XOXOXReplyCancel

    • Laurel Bern - June 13, 2019 - 1:54 PM

      Oh, I’m so glad! But, get this… The next person commenting is named Lily! For those who don’t know, Nancy has the most wonderful red poodle named Lily!!! I love stuff like that! xoxoReplyCancel

  • Cheryl - June 13, 2019 - 8:48 AM

    I love the look of host chairs, but I really hate the implication of them. Putting the hosts in more comfortable chairs than the guests violates all my standards of gracious entertaining. I realize I’m overthinking this, but it’s like the host taking the best piece of cake, the best steak, etc. Exactly the opposite of what my southern upbringing taught me. I had host chairs once and love the look, but had to get rid of because they felt wrong when we used them. Weird, I know. And I have 3 dining tables (2 houses) all rectangular or oval. And they would look better with host chairs but I can’t go there.ReplyCancel

    • Laurel Bern - June 13, 2019 - 1:51 PM

      Hi Cheryl,

      I’ll tell you what. Make a cushion with needles sticking out of it for the host chairs. So, when company comes, everyone will be uncomfortable! hahahaha!

      Still, when you think about it, the hosts are the ones who’ve been standing on their feet all day and shopping, cleaning, cooking, primping… before the guests arrive. I remember some Thanksgivings, by the time we ate, I was so exhausted, I could barely enjoy the food.

      But, I hear you!

      The other option is to give everyone a comfortable armchair. I presented two styles that I think work beautifully. Of course, there are others. The problem is that they take up more space. The average side chair is 18″-20″ wide and the Chervan barrel chair is 24.5″ wide. So, instead of 24″ per person, minimum, you’d need about 30″ Therefore, you would need a full 120″ table to seat up to ten. That chair IS very comfortable and very pretty too!

      I just found one of the M-H Gomez dining rooms she did at least 14 years ago and added it in. It was in Architectural Digest in 2006. Took a little while to find the source because the link on Pinterest only took me to home page of the AD site. I found it by only putting in the architect’s name.ReplyCancel

  • Pamela Dunn - June 13, 2019 - 8:30 AM

    Wonderful ideas! Chomping at the bit to start the redo but pinkie swear to wait until I have a complete picture. Thank you for all your hours of work which I am sure helps so many solve their issues and avoid costly mistakes.
    xxoo
    PamReplyCancel

    • Laurel Bern - June 13, 2019 - 1:12 PM

      Thanks so much Pamela! I so appreciate the use of your lovely home!ReplyCancel

  • Penny - June 13, 2019 - 7:24 AM

    Thank you for such an informative, helpful post! Mixing chairs can be confusing but you break it down and make it much more simple to understand. Your Bronxville dining room is my favourite. Such timeless, simple elegance and breathtakingly beautiful. I love seeing rooms with color and this is one of my favourites..ReplyCancel

    • Laurel Bern - June 13, 2019 - 12:56 PM

      Thanks so much Penny! Of course, it very much helps that the room itself, is an architectural Beaux Arts (early 20th century) gem. The proportions, windows, French doors, mouldings are absolute neo-classical perfection. The only way to truly muck up this space in my opinion would be to shroud the star of the show (the architecture) with hideous draperies with lots of swags and such.

      Contrary to what people seem to believe, 250 years ago, window treatments were usually not that ornate unless maybe an exceedingly formal room. And even then, not anything like what I see today as being traditional window treatments. I think that you can see how sparingly they are in the restoration of Thomas Jefferson’s Monticello.

      Fortunately, my clients had no privacy or light issues, so we got away with leaving the windows as is.ReplyCancel

  • Joanne - June 13, 2019 - 6:34 AM

    My daughter picked up a Hepplewhite dining set for cheap on Craigslist. The chairs definitely need to be painted. The trim in the dining room is currently dead white, but will eventually be changed to White Dove. How do you coordinate the white? Should chairs be the same as the trim? Also, if the chairs are painted is it OK to paint the sideboard a color or should it be painted white or not painted at all.
    I appreciate all your advice. You make me realize all the things I do not know.ReplyCancel

    • Laurel Bern - June 13, 2019 - 12:36 PM

      Hi Joanne,

      Love it!

      However, I can’t see what you’re talking about and what else is going on and if there are other pieces… I always say that colors should coordinate. However, I can guarantee this. Even IF she paints the chair the same as the walls, it’s going to look different on the chairs! But white dove looks fabulous on furniture. And it’s one of my favorite trim colors for most paint colors.ReplyCancel

  • L - June 13, 2019 - 5:47 AM

    Laurel, you’re superb as usual! I’m off the topic (forgive me) wondering do designers have to know construction? Like let’s say Yves Saint Laurent in Morocco, when nothing beautiful was there? I’m novice designer and I rely on my contractor but what about remote locations, how to learn construction to accept someone’s job in case there are… dumb contractors! With pair of hands ready for instructions …but without any knowledge you expect from builderReplyCancel

    • Laurel Bern - June 13, 2019 - 12:33 PM

      Hi L,

      That’s a very good question. It depends on the project and what’s involved. It certainly is good to know as much as possible. But some designers/decorators have very little knowledge. I did learn a fair amount about that in design school and much I’ve now forgotten as I’ve never had any need to know it in the first place. We did elaborate scale drawings of EVERYTHING including detailed construction drawings.

      Other things, I gleaned over the years from the many contractors I worked with in all different phases of renovation and occasionally some additions or new-home build.

      Just make sure that your client’s contract is WITH the contractor for that phase of the job and make sure in your letter of agreement it’s understood that you carry absolutely no liability for the work done by workers who have a direct contract with your mutual client. Of course, you will do everything in your power to see that the work is done as expected. But for instance, the client who would not let me take photos got a little visit from Karma a year after she refused to let me come back to take portfolio pics.

      One of her expensive Venetian mirrors fell off the wall in her bathroom. Pity. Oh man, I could’ve been a nasty cow after she had pulled that selfish stunt. But I felt badly for the contractor who I liked, so I actually spent a few hours trying to sort it out for him. Of course, it’s his fault, but what if he had disappeared as they sometimes do? Now, you have a desperate client who may very well come after you, if you don’t protect yourself.

      Fun, isn’t it?ReplyCancel

  • Janet - June 12, 2019 - 11:21 PM

    So many beautiful examples! Thanks, Laurel!ReplyCancel

  • Em - June 12, 2019 - 10:34 PM

    At our last house, we didn’t have room to use a leaf in our rectangular DR table w/o a wall being removed and someone having to eat on the front lawn.

    Now that we can fully extend the table, we’d like to add two host chairs (and you’ve shown some great options)… but… would “the rules” allow for the arm chair to be placed between two side chairs?ReplyCancel

    • Laurel Bern - June 12, 2019 - 11:32 PM

      Hi Em,

      That’s a very good question. I think it would be better to have the arm chairs assuming you have two at the ends. And then you could do what Suzanne Kasler and Joe Nye did which was use an alternating side chair that coordinates. But, since I can’t see what your pieces look like, it’s difficult to say for sure.ReplyCancel

  • barbara - June 12, 2019 - 10:27 PM

    Hooray for showing some classic quality vintage furniture. I have my folks 1948 Drexel mahogany table and chairs. I loved the chippendale chairs but was not thrilled with the dark and shiny table so kept it covered. A friend who is moving game me her chandelier that is dadk bronze and suddenly the table looks WONDERFUL in it’s bare naked beauty. It is darker than the chairs and high gloss while the chairs are a little lighter in tone and satin finish. There is the contrast i needed. Right now i have my Anthro macrame table runner but not sure what i will do for placemats as it def needs protection. Most the articles in ” blogville” about mixing NEVER show chippendale…. only current parsons chairs, mid century etc. This was a breath of fresh air. thank you.ReplyCancel

    • Laurel Bern - June 12, 2019 - 11:29 PM

      Thank you so much Barbara! I was afraid that some would complain about not having much in the way of Parson’s chairs. They are everywhere and at all price points. Chippendale is truly timeless! And timeless is what I strive for.ReplyCancel

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