In some homes, dining rooms are considered a formal space for entertaining guests or enjoying special occasion and holiday meals. This feeling of formality and the idea that “everything must be polished” can make it easy to feel somewhat hemmed in when selecting new dining furniture.
While you may have grown up with a matching dining table and chair set (possibly even a set that has been passed down through the generations), the rules for dining room decor have changed dramatically since your grandparents’ time. In 2021, your dining room table and chairs no longer have to match. In fact, with the ushering in of the wabi sabi aesthetic, incorporating a mismatched set into your dining room decor can be quite stylish and visually appealing.
Whether you’re starting to build a dining room set from scratch or you’re looking for warm modern dining chairs to pair with that fantastic antique table you don’t want to part with, it can be difficult to know where to begin when creating a mismatched set. If you’re new to mixing and matching furniture, take some inspiration from these Instagram posts:
1. Add a bench
If you really want to turn down the formal feeling in your dining room, using a bench for seating instead of formal dining chairs is a great way to promote an atmosphere of relaxed, communal dining. This farmhouse-chic kitchen from Lauren Elizabeth (IG: @HouseOfHire) features a light-toned bench that matches the table paired with dramatically contrasting chairs to create a sophisticated look that’s still inviting.
Recreate the look:
2. Pull colours from the room
In open concept homes, it can be tricky to create “rooms” that look distinct but still flow together. In this space from Bonnie (IG: BjmPatel), the blonde wood and white paint carries into the dining chairs and table, while the dark contrast of the bar stools in the kitchen matches the lights over the kitchen island and the legs of the dining chairs. The spaces mirror each other with pendant light fixtures and differently coloured chairs with similar seat shapes and leg styles, creating clearly defined areas that still flow together well without matching too precisely.
3. Black and white
4. Switch out the end chairs
It’s not just colour you can play with when it comes to mismatching—it’s also the style and shape of the chair. We love pairing these thin, wiry Barton dining chairs with the soft, rounded appearance of the Cloud dining chair for the end seats. These grey tones play well off the blonde wood of the floors and table, as well as the gold touches of the light fixture and picture frame.
5. Keep a consistent colour palette
We adore this award-winning open concept kitchen-dining room from New View Designs Inc. Their use of colour ties together the dining table and the different chair styles with the monochrome palette of the space—the white Alben chairs match the white Sliver chairs, while the legs of the Sliver chairs match the warm wood tones of the dining table.
6. Use chairs to offset a built-in bench
With a built-in bench, half of your seating is dictated for you and an exact match can be hard to find. Rather than struggling to make it work, consciously choose a mismatched option that suits the space as Jo Galbraith (IG: @JoGalbraithAtHome) demonstrates beautifully here. While the chairs have a different look than the bench, the Jocelyn rug in Sky ties the whole room together, incorporating the blues of the cushions on the built-in bench and the wood tones of the table, pendant lamp, and natural woven cane in the chairs.
Mismatched and marvellous
A perfectly matched set of dining table and dining chairs has its place, but that place doesn’t have to be your home. Have some fun mixing and matching pieces that suit your style and preference. If you’re not sure where to start, think about:
- Adding a bench
- Pulling colours from the room
- Sticking with a classic colour combo: black and white
- Switching out only the end chairs
- Keeping a consistent colour palette
- Using unique chairs to offset a built-in