The dining room just might be the last vestige of matchy-matchy design. While the rest of the home is an inspired oasis of creative choices and deft period-mixing, the dining room often remains stiff with formality; a staid lineup of side chairs. If the most exciting thing to happen to your dining room is captain’s chairs, then it’s time to step up your game. We’ve rounded up five fresh ways to skip the set and dine in style.
1. Pull up a sofa.
A settee is a whimsical, modern alternative to the built-in banquette, and it’s infinitely more versatile. Two settees facing each other create an enveloping atmosphere, perfect for small, intimate gatherings; or pair a single sofa with a set of chairs for a variety of seating options. Look for small-scale pieces with a seat height of at least 18 inches and firm cushions so guests don’t sink during dinner.
2. In the clear.
Visually weightless, lucite seating speaks softly but makes a big design statement. Plus, plastic is virtually indestructible and can be easily wiped clean, so it’s perfectly practical for family meals. Opt for graceful lines, like that of Marcello Ziliani’s clear plastic Tiffany Chair, to mirror a sleek contemporary environment. Or complement a traditional space with the poetic juxtaposition of Philippe Starck’s Louis Ghost Chair.
3. A chair of many colors.
An exuberant array of hues creates instant energy around the table and is decidedly light-hearted, but rainbow colored chairs can quickly become saccharine. A restrained palette of neutrals, on the other hand, is dynamic yet sophisticated. Try chairs with a simple, classic shape—like the Eames Molded Plastic pictured here—for tonal elegance that’s anything but cutesy.
4. The best seat in the house.
A table surrounded by gracious armchairs creates a cozy environment and encourages luxuriously long meals and lingering conversation. Plus, every guest is bound to feel like the lord or lady of the manor. Choose a round table to enhance an intimate ambience, or a long rectangular one for stately appeal.
5. Mix it up.
Eschew a matching set altogether for refined eclecticism with a collection of mismatched chairs. Different frames united by a single color or material will emphasize distinct sculptural shapes. Or try an artful mix of unique pieces for a curated gallery effect. Establishing a connective thread, like period or line, will keep everything cohesive. Choosing only designs from the middle 20th century, for instance, will ensure your dining room doesn’t look like a flea market.