Dining Chairs: Upholstered vs. Wood

Although dining chairs might be the last piece of the puzzle when it comes to furnishing your dining room, they’re an important piece. Your dining chairs will dictate how comfortable you are when you sit to down to eat. They’ll blend seamlessly into the design, soften the look, or add a pop of color to an otherwise neutral space.

The first question you may ask yourself when selecting dining chairs is whether you should choose upholstered or wooden chairs. We’re here to answer that question and give you all the information you need so when it comes to making a purchasing decision, you can feel confident and prepared.     

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Pros and Cons of Upholstered Dining Chairs

Benefits of Upholstered Chairs

Upholstered dining chairs are beautiful additions to a dining table, whether you choose to anchor one on each end, or have every seat upholstered. Catherine Willey, our store manager in Framingham, describes, “We frequently use upholstered chairs in the dining room versus the kitchen because they can lend an air of formality.”

They also have a sound absorbing quality which makes them a perfect option for a room that feels empty and echoic or an open-concept kitchen.

When it comes to style, upholstered chairs are the perfect way to add color and texture to a room. “If everything in your dining room is wood or metal or glass, it can start to look stark. Adding upholstered chairs softens the look” Catherine explains.

Coordinating your upholstered chairs with your wall color, your carpet, or other accessories ties everything together and adds to the design aesthetic.

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For example, you can tie in colors from a beautiful oriental rug into your chairs. Or, if you have a gold tone on your mirrors and accessories, bring that into a pattern on the chair. Catherine says, “Adding a little glimmer to the dining chairs adds a touch of elegance.”

Upholstered chairs also have the benefit of being very comfortable so they’re great options if you love to host guests or sit down to long dinners.

Downsides of Upholstered Chairs

There aren’t downsides as much as there are things to consider.  Catherine recommends thinking about your lifestyle and your family life.

She explains, “Upholstery can be a tougher cleaning situation for a young family.” If you have little kids at home who tend not to use napkins, it might be worth thinking about how this will affect your upholstery.

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However, the middle ground is that there are great performance fabrics that can make the upkeep a lot easier. If you love the comfort of upholstery, you might opt for a wood chair with an upholstered seat.

How to Pick the Best Fabric for Your Upholstery

Pros and Cons of Wood Dining Chairs

Benefits of Wood Dining Chairs

The most important benefit of a wood dining chair is that, if they’re built with solid construction, they will have excellent durability and longevity. Solid wood dining chairs can be in your home for generations if treated well.

They’re aesthetically beautiful and will enhance the look of a wood dining table. And depending on the shape and style that you choose, wood dining chairs can be extremely comfortable and supportive.

They’re also versatile in style and can easily transition with the look of your dining room if it changes over the years.

Homeowner’s Guide to Natural Wood in Furniture

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Downsides of Wood Dining Chairs

The downside to wood dining chairs is that, as Catherine explains, “They’re comfortable for just so long, depending on the shape of the chair.”

However, comfort generally comes down to personal preference, and the most important thing you can do is spend time sitting in a chair before you decide to purchase it.

Things to consider before you buy

Ultimately, décor choices come down to personal preference. It may be that you love consistency in your finishes and you want your table, buffet, and chairs all in the same wood. On the other hand, you might prefer a softer look, in which case an upholstered chair will be the best option for you.

If your room is feeling plain, like it’s missing something, you’ll appreciate the ability to pull colors from the room into your upholstered chairs.  “It’s all about creating a personalized look” Catherine explains.

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After style, you’ll want to consider your lifestyle and how the room will be used and by whom. If staying on top of the upkeep of upholstered chairs doesn’t sound like something you have time for, wood dining chairs might be the better choice.

There’s also the formality of the room to consider, whether you want a more casual or polished look to the space. In general, upholstered chairs read more formal, however, there are variations within each style.

A Windsor dining chair, whether straight-backed or bow-backed, is a more casual approach to wood dining chairs. Whereas a more contemporary, stylized wood chair tends to look more polished.

A slipcovered upholstered chair has a more casual feel, whereas a Parsons style with a wooden leg is dressier.

Dining Furniture: A Conversation with a Local Craftsman

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Talk to a designer

Both upholstered and wood dining chairs have their pros and cons. And ultimately, it’s going to be a matter of personal preference. Luckily, there are no black and whites here. If you love upholstery but not the upkeep, you can opt for a wood chair with an upholstered seat. If natural wood is your thing but you want to soften the look a bit, you can anchor the table with two upholstered chairs.

The best place to start your dining chair journey is by talking to a designer. Our design consultants will guide you through the process, asking the important questions, and ultimately helping you choose dining chairs that suit your needs and preferences perfectly.

Haven’t had a chance to meet our designers yet? Get to know them here! When you’re ready to start browsing, come into a showroom near you.

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Julia Maiman

Julia is a writer, blogger, and believer in the smell of old books. She has been crafting stories since she could put pen to paper. She is also a lover of dogs, traveling, and Led Zeppelin.

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