My Favorite Timeless & Classic Dining Chair & Table Combos

Hi Everyone,

Before we get into the timeless & classic dining chair & table combos, just a few words.

Thank you so much for your lovely comments regarding my renovation issues. If you would like to read a brief renovation update, please go here. I know some of you are very interested, and some are not, so I’m trying to strike a good balance. Everything is set for a June 5th start date.


Anyway, Cale is here to help me pack, and I’m writing this post about the most classic dining table and chair combinations.


In only three days, we’re about 90% finished. There are only some drawers and the bathroom to do.


Today’s post about my favorite dining chair and table combinations is a lean toward “formal.”


I put formal in quotes because I’m not a very formal person, to begin with. So, my definition of formal will be formal that’s kicked back.  In addition, some of these table and chair combos could also work in more casual situations.

If you’d like to see a post devoted to some beautiful casual dining tables, please check out the post in the link.

And, this is a lovely post featuring table, chair, and counterstool combinations.


However, before we begin with the beautiful dining chair and table combos, I will go over what I recommend *not* doing.


That is… if you want a classic dining room, you’ll love it forever.

If it’s too late and you just bought something I don’t recommend, OR, you prefer your selection to any of mine, that is always fine. In addition, there are too many variations on a theme of what I deem classic, so naturally, I won’t be able to cover everything. This post is meant to be a guide only.

Even under the umbrella of classic and timeless, there’s often a touch of the whimsical. That’s okay.


Still, on occasion, a few of you take my recommendations personally.


Oh, please try not to. These are only my opinions. If you enjoy them and they are helpful, that’s great. However, my way isn’t the only way.

Still, we are talking about classic and timeless dining chairs and table combos.

Unfortunately, you may call it whatever you like, but as often mentioned, there is much furniture in the marketplace deemed to be “traditional,” which is anything but traditional.


Let’s begin with dining chairs.


The problem is that many chairs are too big.

Admittedly, some 18th-century dining chairs are a little too small. But, really, just a little for the average person.


What is a little too small, Laurel?


It has more to do with the seat depth and the pitch. If a chair has a seat less than 16″ and very little pitch, it’s not going to be a good experience. Also, I find the absolute minimum width for a dining chair should be 18″. My perfect width is around 20″. I love backs that are around 35″ – 36″. We’re going to go over this again, later on.


However, it depends on the style of the chair.


Okay, sorry, I answered your pretend question instead of showing you what not to do.


over-scale, ersatz dining chair
Exhibit A


It is the so-called “traditional” dining room set.

Now, before I ruffle some feathers, I’m fully aware that some of you may very well have a dining room set like this or something along this vein. And, it’s fine if you bought it because


  • You love it, no matter what.
  • It was inherited
  • You live in Texas.  Sorry. I couldn’t resist. I love you guys and know that most of you have fabulous taste and hate these just as much as I do.

However, if you missed seeing this gem in suburban Dallas, complete with 11 (give or take) condensers and a basement that looks like Filene’s Basement, basement, please go here.


The post above, primarily about bloated living room furniture, is one of my favorites and honors the great 20th-century interior designers who understood classic design and proportion.


But, let’s take an even closer look at this crazy thing.


I’m trying to wrap my mind around what is happening at the bottom of the hind leg.

No chair leg exists in the history of all chairkind.


Is it trying to be Queen Anne?


If so, it’s Queen Anne on juice whose spending way too many hours at the gym.

As for the size of the chair.

It’s 45″ tall.

The average height of an 18th-century dining chair is about 35.”



Now, to be fair, some classic chairs are meant to be tall. But, this isn’t one of them.


An example of a dining chair that’s meant to be tall is this traditional English, maybe William and Mary style chair. This handsome dining room is by Rivers Spencer. However, this simple drop-leaf mahogany table would look great with just about any classic dining room chair.


The William and Mary style dates from about 1690 through to about 1730.


Okay, now we’ve seen what NOT to do, or, at least, what I think should not have been manufactured in the first place.


Let’s jump into the classic dining chairs.


But first, what IS a classic chair?

A classic chair is one that’s stood the test of time. It is a recognizable style from the 18th through the mid-20th century.


  • William and Mary (1690–1730) – walnut with high backs.
  • Queen Anne (1702–1760) – more delicate, curves with cabriole legs usually
  • Rococo (1730–1770) – ornate but more feminine than Baroque (Louis XV)
  • Neo-Classical/Georgian, Colonial (1750–1830) – Chippendale, Sheraton, Hepplewhite era (Louis XVI) and Gustavian
  • Regency (1762–1830) – Another classical style
  • Federal and Greek Revival occurred during these periods


Then came Victorian, Art Nouveau, Arts and Crafts, and Art Deco. For today’s post, I will focus on the last half of the 18th century to around 1830 as the neo-classical period. It is “neo” or new because the original classical period belongs to the ancient Greeks and Romans.


Much of the Victorian was a reiteration of the 17th-18th century styles.


In the 18th century, there was also the Shaker movement. These are pared-down simplified chairs and tables. It is definitely a more rustic style, so we’ll leave that to the side for now.

Below is a widget filled with some of my favorite timeless dining room chairs.



The beauty of these chairs and tables is that they are all pretty much mix and match. The only exception is this: I find the Chippendale-style chairs with the ribbon backs look best with pedestal tables.

The more delicate Louis XVI-style chairs look great with everything, as well as the Gustavian chairs.

And yes, you can mix painted chairs with a wood-stained table. However, I don’t recall ever seeing the opposite unless the table is painted a medium to dark color. It depends on the room, colors and fabric on the chairs, too.


Now, for our dining room tables.


My favorite dining tables either have beautiful pedestals or they have tapered legs.

You might enjoy this post about some of my favorite dining tables.

The pedestal tables are English. The tapered-leg tables can also be English, French, or Swedish.

I love tapered round or square legs for chairs. But, for ribbon-back Chippendale chairs, I prefer the Parson’s style square block leg.


What about the cabriole or ball and claw legs?


Sure. They’re fine. I think the ball and claw are the most formal. While I appreciate it, and they are certainly timeless; I think the simpler legs are easier to mix with contemporary furnishings.


Back in the late 17th century, a parlor for someone affluent would’ve looked like this.



From the Metropolitan Museum of Art


Monticello with Thomas Sheraton style chairs

Above is Thomas Jefferson’s Monticello. The shield-back dining chairs are in the style of Thomas Sheraton.


Museum of Fine Arts Houston - period room- Bayou Bend - Massachusetts Room

Museum of Fine Arts Houston – period room- Bayou Bend – Massachusetts Room

You can read about over 80 of the most classic pieces of furniture here.


However, today’s formal dining room can still have a young, non-museum style.


Benjamin Moore Twilight Dining Room

Above is one of my boards from the Laurel Home Paint and Palette collection.


I created these boards in 2016.


Not that 2016 is long ago, but nothing here dates this dining room.

I love this mix of tables with vintage tufted armchairs and Chinese Chippendale side chairs from Ballard Designs.


These pedestal tables, either round or rectangular, are of the neo-classical period. With no corner legs to get in the way, they allow for maximum seating. Plus, they can be made as extension tables allowing the table to become larger or smaller.
Young family home remodel-new trad dining room Quadrille - china seas wallpaper

Sarah Wagner’s gorgeous new-trad dining room features traditional furnishings and that gorgeous Quadrille wallpaper. Years ago, her lovely home was featured here.


What about mixing chairs?


A few years ago, I posted a post about mixing dining chairs like a pro.

You can see these cool chair combos here.


My Ideal Dining Chair Proportions


Below are average classic chair dimensions. And how a chair is measured.


classic dining chair measurements(1)

  • Side chairs are usually 18″-23″ wide. Armchairs add a few inches.
  • The seat height is 16″-21″, but the average is 18-19″.
  • My preferred overall height depends on the style of the chair. However, for most chairs, my preferred height is from about 34″-38″

However, some side chairs are meant to be taller, like Jacobean and Queen Anne. Also, some ladderback and wing chairs can be taller than 38″.

This is only a general guide. If your chairs are a little bigger or smaller, they are probably fine.


Let’s closely look at two beautiful timeless and classic dining tables.


Antique English Georgian Mahogany, Satinwood & Ebony Inlaid Round Extendable ‘D’ Dining Table Seats 10 Persons (Circa 1800)


This type of neo-classical traditional dining table goes by different names. Sometimes I see George III Banquet Table, Regency, or Sometimes Hepplewhite.

These tables look beautiful with the Louis XVI-style chairs with tapered legs and a square or oval back. You could also pair this table with a Gustavian chair. In fact, you can also find many Gustavian-painted tables in this style. They always start as a demilune table.


I prefer the style of table that doesn’t have the drop-down leaves unless the table is mostly going to be extended.


SchearBrothers on Etsy 12' Crotch Mahogany Duncan Phyfe Dining Table Sheraton Birdcage Colonial Style


Above is another classic table with a birdcage double pedestal. This is also a well-known version of this for a round table.


Laurel Bern Interiors-bronxville-dining-room

Above is another version of the birdcage base in this custom round extension table custom-made for my client ten years ago!

Please read about timeless furniture pieces, plus tips for getting the best deal.

Below is a widget of the types of dining tables one would find in this period. As of this writing, they are all for sale. Some, but not all, are on sale.



I trick that sometimes works to get a further discount if purchasing vintage or antique furniture online. (provided you’re allowed to make an offer)


Find out who the vendor is and look up all of their offerings. You can always categorize them according to price or if they are new. So, put in that you want to classify newest to oldest.

Then, observe how far back the piece you are looking at is. If it’s pretty far back, you’ll know it’s been hanging around for a while, and the vendor might be very happy to sell it to you for far less than their asking price.

I hope you enjoyed this post about dining chair & table combos.

This is one of my favorite posts about classic, round dining tables that extend!


And, I hope you’re having a beautiful Memorial Day weekend.


Please check out the fantastic holiday HOT SALES. Melissa and I have linked to our favorite brands and have updated the widgets with many new items on sale!




This post is dedicated to the brave men and women who gave their lives so that we may retain our God-given rights and freedoms.


PS: Are you planning on doing some shopping on Amazon sometime soon?


All you need to do is click the link above and forget about it if you’re not ready to shop now.

I will earn a small commission at no extra expense for any orders you make within 24 hours of that click. I very much appreciate your support of this website.

Amazon ad


Looking for the terrific Samplize peel and stick paint samples? – Please click this link to order your samples and get 10% off the entire month of May.

10% off Samplize May orders to Email Subscribers


26 Responses

  1. Your blog about dining chair and table combinations is a treasure trove of design inspiration. The way you break down various styles and provide practical tips is truly helpful for creating harmonious and aesthetically pleasing dining spaces. Thank you for sharing your expertise in such a relatable manner!

  2. I see the shield back chair was identified as in the style of Sheraton, but I had always thought it was Hepplewhite. On further research, it seems that both produced shield back chairs that are very similar. Thanks for a great write-up!

  3. I have a rectangular thrift store dining table that is solid as a rock. Around it I have slightly mismatched chairs but their common thread is they all have caned seats.

  4. Good luck on the Reno. I have yo say Your son, Cale, is an awesome son! He is always there for you.

  5. Thank you. Laurel.
    Ugly is ugly and unfortunately when the manufacturers are using cheap wood they must make the proportions bigger or your Aunt May will break a chair. All matching in “ugly” is just “ugly”.
    I visit one particular thrift store about twice a month and my heart hurts when I see these beautiful antiques of solid wood and perfect proportions and young marrieds are going to pottery barn and Ikea. No history, nothing to pass on to your children. The prices were hurtfully inexpensive and I have no room for them.
    Keep teaching us and perhaps some youngsters will pay attention by happen chance and visit. your blog. Before I get busted, I know there are many young marrieds that have been raised and taught to walk away from the MDF and choose wisely.

  6. Hi Laurel,
    After downsizing six years ago, I sold my tradional Queen Anne style dining room furniture to a friend. The new house is much smaller & more of an “English Cottage” style. I chose a new table similar to the SaltCreek Farmhouse, much more casual. I was thrilled to see your suggestions for chairs. I chose 2 wicker ends, similar to yours & 6 birdcage Windsors in black. I love the look. I love your blog even more.

  7. Dear Laurel, Thanks to your posting the Wisteria Chateau Fabric-Backed chairs in Linen at a wonderful sale price some time ago, I scored four of them to replace the rather rickety flea market ones (which did have nice needlepoint seats), which instantly modernized the vintage oak table with ornate pedestal, even more so when I changed the wall paint from rust red to SW Sea Salt. Thank you for that and the enjoyment your blog always brings into my life.

  8. I spoke too soon. The chairs have appeared. Apparently it takes several minutes for them to “build” into the blog. Wonderful post, thanks so much Laurel.

    1. Oh, you had me scared for a sec. It shouldn’t take several minutes, however. Maybe a few seconds, if you scroll super quickly. I scrolled taking about 30 seconds to get down to the widgets and they were all up. But, good you can see everything now.

  9. I’m not seeing any chairs at all, and I’m using the same PC that I always use to view all your scathingly brilliant blogs.

  10. Thank you, Laurel. Your posts are always so rich with, and full of information. BTW, Pantone’s color of the year for 2020 is Classic Blue, which sounds like a color that would be right up your aisle.

  11. great post! I’m wondering when it comes to choose tile layout in a bathroom, how do you know what would work? Any tips would be helpful. There’re so many options out there, I’m paralyzed and hit the google… but no one writes about this topic thinking it’s obvious or so. I’d love to read about it. Would you please please please write about it one day?

  12. Hi Laurel! What a great post! Thank you! I just bought a dining table for my apartment. It’s a French demilune table that unfolds to full circle and then can be extended with inserts. It wasn’t really expensive as I was worried it would be, the only drawback is that it’s oak and in Louis XV style with parquet top, don’t get me wrong, I like it! It’s just not that easy to choose chairs :> But now, after reading your post, I’m thinking maybe some Gustavian style or klismos chairs would look good. Thanks again, love your blog.

  13. Hi…I am interested in purchasing the rules guide. I love your diagrams and illustrations with pics and wanted to know if the guide includes pics? I have 8ft ceiling and proportion is a concern…I can usually ‘eyeball’ it, but would like to have a guide to use when in doubt.🤔

  14. Hi Laurel, Thrilled to see the photo of the Bayou Bend house museum (the blue room) in your post today because I am a volunteer docent there. The story is that Ima Hogg (yes, her real name) chose the blue color when the house was built in the 1920s. She matched the blue in a piece of 18th-century Portuguese chintz. It took around 20 coats of paint before Ms. Hogg approved the color, and it has never been repainted. For your Houston followers or visitors, you can look up info on visiting Bayou Bend at the Museum of Fine Arts, Houston website:

  15. you might be able to make Exhibit A work if you slip-oovered the chairs somehow and got rid of the china hutch. My dining set in my condo?
    A $60 table from the thrift store (always covered with a tablecloth) surrounded by mis-matched cane-seat chairs from thrift stores and affordable antique stores (don’t think I paid more than $65 for any one of them). Hope everyone is enjoying getting ready for Christmas!!

  16. Hmm, love the article but I’m not getting any mini widgets under the pics of the tables. No chair pics. Am I missing something?

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *

This site uses Akismet to reduce spam. Learn how your comment data is processed.

Welcome To Laurel Home!


Hi, I’m Laurel, and Laurel Home is the website and blog for Laurel Bern Interiors.
I’ve been creating new-traditional interiors since 1988. The blog is where I share all.

New Edition, November 2023! Get The Indispensable Guide For 100s of Home Furnishings And Interior Design Sources That Everyone Is Raving About

laurels-rolodex-final-book-cover-master 10th edition 23-24

laurel home archives


Please click the image below for more info about my rockin’ Interior Design Guides for 2024!

Laurel Home Interior Design Guides 2024
Amazon ad

please click below to check out my favorite decorating & design books

Laurel Bern's Favorite Interior Design and Decorating Books
Subscribe To The Laurel Home Blog And You Will Receive A FREE Guide Where I Share How To Get Your Paint Colors Right, The First Time.