One of my weaknesses is being utterly incapable of passing up a good chair—be it on the side of the road, at a flea market, or listed on Facebook Marketplace. I’m overcome by a sense of compulsion to drag it home, or type, “Hi, is this still available?” to the seller. When walking through a yard sale, I turn my inner monologue on repeat:“You don’t need that, you don’t need that.”
If you’re anything like me, and have ended up with a whole lotta chairs, the idea of a dining table with mismatched chairs is likely the most practical conscious design choice you can make. An excuse to sidle a sleek mid-century piece right up next to a bentwood beauty and a chipped farmhouse bench? I’m in. A way to combine found furniture with the trendy new seat you couldn’t resist? This is it.
How to Pull it Off:
One of the key elements of this design choice is really leaning into the fact that you mismatched purposely. Only slight differences in style (say, chairs with the same frame but differing shades of gray upholstery) may appear as though you were trying to match them unsuccessfully. Go ahead and be bold with your mashups—it’ll pay off.
You can channel the same era throughout your seating, pairing wishbone and sawbuck, or windsor and ladderback. If the rest of your home leans toward a certain era of furnishings, this makes sense for you.
Or, go wild and era-bend with chairs of all different periods. Here, this dining table is surrounded by modern, mid-century, and Shaker style chairs. Pillows and a sheepskin rug make the table feel all the more inviting.
When looking at a dining table in terms of hosting guests for dinner (ah yes, their actual purpose!), a variety of chairs quite suits this function. Some guests may prefer a bit of a reclining back, some might want more wiggle room, some a cushion—a mismatched dining chair situation is really just a choose-your-own-adventure for dinner parties, right?
If you’re concerned about the cohesion factor of your setup, try going with just two styles of chairs—one for the heads of the table, and one for the sides. This table looks perfectly pulled together, but has a ton more visual interest due to the mixed materials.
Another way to ensure a polished look (if that’s your thing!) is to go with pairs of chairs in each style. A table with room for six chairs might appear more harmonious with three styles of seating as opposed to one of each.
This dining room is a perfect example of how stylish a group of multiple textures and finishes can look. Aged wood, shiny chrome, solid colors, and natural jute coordinate much better than you’d they could.
Where to Find Them:
If you’re looking to add vintage or secondhand chairs to your dining arsenal without spending every weekend at the flea market or furniture stores (it’s my dream but not everyone’s, I’ll admit), the internet is your friend. Lots of people still swear by Craigslist, as well as apps like LetGo and OfferUp, which showcase items in your area up for grabs or for purchase.
One of my favorite ways to find vintage furniture, though, is to scroll through Facebook Marketplace. Sellers are generally regular folk making space in their homes, and therefore very responsive and willing to work with your needs. I often find that small towns outside of large cities have the best offerings (and are most reasonably priced), so if I’m going on a weekend trip out of NYC, you can bet I’m scouring the listings before I head out. You know, just in case.
Another site I frequent is AptDeco, for their absolutely genius business model. People looking to sell their furniture can list through the site, similar to Craigslist or Marketplace, but Apt Deco vets the listings, ensuring accurate photos, disclosure of damages, and original pricing. The best part? They pick up what you sell and deliver what you buy all over the U.S., making it a great option if you’re looking for newer, more modern pieces.
Do mismatched chairs make or break the room? Tell us in the comments below.