With indoor dinner parties back on the menu, now is the perfect time to refresh your dining room set-up. Just as important as choosing the right table to suit your space, a set of dining chairs has to suit the table, too.
It’s worth considering the number of guests your table will allow – whether you want to maximise on its dimensions by fitting in a row of slimline seats or go all out for comfort with armed dining chairs designed to sit back and relax, way beyond the dessert course.
Rarely will you be going for an odd number of chairs, so with this in mind, it’s often financially shrewd to buy in pairs. We’ve found a number of products handily sold as a duo.
Think about materials, too: a plush velvet might suit grown-up diners but where there are kids involved, you’d be wise to plump for wipe-clean fabrics such as leather or go for natural wood. With a clever ergonomic design, a wooden or plastic dining chair without the padding can be surprisingly comfy.
There are such rich pickings when it comes to contemporary seating and we’ve found some beautifully designed furniture pieces that marry form and function with aplomb. Here, we put our top chairs to the test.
The best dining chairs for 2022 are:
Best overall – Corrigan Studio Akers upholstered dining chairs, set of two: £189.99, Wayfair.co.uk
Best for retro charm – Nkuku Ukari dining chair, aged black: £225, Nkuku.com
Best for thoughtful design – Tuohy Upholstered Dining Chair: £156.99, Wayfair.co.uk
Best for comfort – Danetti Clover dark grey velvet dining chairs, set of two: £398, Danetti.com
Best for vintage lovers – Made Amalyn dining chairs, walnut and pine green velvet, set of 2: £325, Made.com
Best for accessible design – Ikea karljan chair: £40, Ikea.com
Best for an industrial refresh – Oak Furnitureland Brooklyn solid oak and metal dining chair: £95, Oakfurnitureland.co.uk
Best for a clean, contemporary look – M&S Loft fabric dining chairs, set of two: £149, Marksandspencer.com
Best for bringing the outside in – Dunelm Pax rattan dining chairs, set of two: £209, Dunelm.com
Corrigan Studio akers upholstered dining chairs, set of two
With its sculpted, ergonomic shaping and its tan faux leather upholstery, the akers dining chair – sold in a set of two – is not unlike a classic baseball glove. Needless to say, it offers a comfortable sit with ample back support. The PU leather is soft but durable and boasts attractive lines of fine stitching while the chair’s tapered and angled iron legs in black offer a chic mid-century aesthetic. This one’s great if you’re after a chair that envelops the sitter – but without the bulky armrests.
Buy now £189.99, Wayfair.co.uk
Nkuku ukari dining chair, aged black
Recalling an old school classroom chair, Nkuku’s offering boasts instant retro charm. The compact dining chair comprises a sturdy iron frame and a padded seat and backrest upholstered in hand-crafted goat leather, which has been dyed using vegetable extract and tree bark. Naturally, the leather is soft and rich and it promises to age beautifully. Simple but oh so effective, we loved this quietly unassuming piece. It’s as functional as it is effortlessly stylish.
Buy now £225.00, Nkuku.com
Tuohy Upholstered Dining Chair
This is a beautifully crafted piece of furniture that takes classic mid-century modern design as its starting point and gives it an unexpected contemporary twist. We loved the way the seat and backrest form one seemingly continuous line as if the chair has folded in on itself. Surprisingly, the slimline angled legs are made from a metal that’s coloured to match the warm, mid-toned wood. Upholstered in a smart office-like charcoal, the look pulls in different directions, and we loved the chair for that. It also offers back support where you need it, and a supportive frame for resting your elbows.
Buy now £156.99, Wayfair.co.uk
Danetti clover dark grey velvet dining chair with stainless steel caps, set of two
Stylish and contemporary in plush velvet, this dining chair is as comfortable as it looks. It boasts a luxuriously deep seat cushion and a tall, curved backrest that offers great support while giving you a feeling of security – this one positively hugs. Mid-century inspired legs in a jet black wood and finished with chic steel caps, offset the soft material too. We loved the way the void breaks up the otherwise bulky body, while the tapered and angled legs offer an elegant silhouette.
Buy now £398.00, Danetti.com
Made Amalyn dining chairs, walnut and pine green velvet
Upping the luxe on a mid-century design classic, the Amalyn dining chair, sold in a duo, playfully mixes styles and materials. The wonderfully deep curved backrest is crafted from engineered wood with rich walnut veneers; its frame is a sturdy iron with chic brass tips; while its soft seat is upholstered in recycled polyester velvet. It is a heady mix, both texturally and visually. The chair is compact but offers a big impact on the style front, and it won’t look out of place among true vintage pieces.
Buy now £325.00, Made.com
Ikea karljan chair
Simple, stylish and affordable, we loved Ikea’s karljan chair with its cool utilitarian aesthetic. Designed by one Francis Cayouette, it is as much at home in the kitchen as it is in a casual dining room set-up. The chair boasts padding to both the seat cushion and backrest, which is perfectly angled for lumbar support – in other words, it’s more comfortable than it looks. The powder-coated steel frame is strong and sturdy while the woven upholstery fabric offers a pleasing visual texture. In turquoise, it brings a cheery colour pop, too.
Buy now £40.00, Ikea.com
Oak Furnitureland Brooklyn natural solid oak and metal dining chair
Bringing an industrial look to the dining room, the Brooklyn chair is solid and stylish. It’s crafted from a dark aged effect metal and features an open frame, which gives it a lightness of form to counterbalance its hard-edged materials. We loved the stark contrast between the metal and the solid oak seat. The blond oak is finished in a natural protective wax that brings out the organic grain beautifully, knots and all. Enticingly, the price of this one is slashed by half if you buy a set with a complimentary table – and there are suitably industrial-chic options to choose from.
Buy now £190.00, Oakfurnitureland.co.uk
M&S Loft fabric dining chairs, set of two
If you’re after smart modern seating that tucks in neatly under your dining table, M&S’s loft chair with its fuss-free shaping will appeal. Clean-lined, the chair has a subtle curve to the backrest, giving you great lower back support while its slightly upturned seat offers both comfort and a feeling of security.
The dining chair, complete with its tall angled legs in a beautiful pale beech, offers an elegant silhouette. This one’s also a compact space-saver, allowing you to fit more in around the table.
Buy now £149.00, Marksandspencer.com
Dunelm pax set of two rattan dining chairs
The indoor rattan trend has been around for a while – and it is still going strong – but this contemporary dining chair mixes in a slice of the industrial, which we love. Sold as a pair, the chair is crafted from natural cane with its intricately knotted slats forming the body of the piece, while its black metal base makes for an attractive contrast in materials.
More sturdy than it looks, the chair offers a comfy recline – look closely and you’ll see its gentle ergonomic curve. But of course, this one wouldn’t be complete without a sheepskin throw to really set it off.
Buy now £209.00, Dunelm.com
The verdict: Dining chairs
Ikea’s utilitarian karljan chair in turquoise offers incredible value for money – a striking design-led piece that’s enticingly purse-friendly. But, we loved Corrigan Studio’s akers upholstered dining chair for its homely (faux) leather look and its chic mid-century shaping. Winning points on both design and comfort, this is a chair that envelops the sitter, encouraging dinner guests to sit back, relax, and stay at the table for longer.
Looking for more ways to serve up dinner in style? Read our review of the best dining tables