Mixing and matching dining chairs and benches

Dining table with bench

One of the most prominent emerging dining area trends is to mix and match your dining room furniture and, in particular, to feature a combination of chairs and benches around your dining or kitchen table.

But why is this becoming so popular and how do you ensure that it’ll work successfully in your room? Here we provide some further insight and advice on an approach that’s gaining significant momentum in homes throughout the land.

What are the main benefits of mixing chairs with dining benches?

There are a number of advantages to taking this approach and they’re certainly not all orientated around style or aesthetics, as there are also some very practical benefits…

1) It gives you versatility

If you only have dining chairs surrounding your table then you can only accommodate a fixed number of guests. You can of course have additional spare chairs that act as occasional chairs in other rooms of the house when not in use. However, these take up space and are also relatively expensive, based on the fact that they’re seldomly used.

By contrast, a dining bench or two affords you more flexibility, allowing you to accommodate a varying number of guests, depending on the occasion. Guests can ‘squeeze up’ and benches can therefore seat more people than a set of dining chairs would in the same area. A growing number of restaurants are now introducing more bench seating for this very reason.

2) It’s more communal

Sitting together on a bench can engender a sense of togetherness. It also makes for a less formal feel to the dining experience and many would say it creates a more fun and convivial atmosphere.

Mix and match dining bench and chairs

3) It’s different

Whilst it’s acknowledged as a growing interior trend, mixing chairs with benches is certainly not common or indeed widespread within homes and so you’ll be introducing something into yours that most of your friends and family won’t have. Well, until they see yours perhaps, as it may inspire them to follow suit!

4) It can open up the dining area

Dining chairs usually have relatively high backs. Whilst this often provides comfort and support whilst seated, while they’re not in use (which is actually a vast majority of the time) they can interrupt the flow of a room. Having a bench on the near side of a table can make a room look and feel more spacious.

Additionally, if you have a particularly nice rustic or reclaimed dining table, naturally you’ll want this to be seen in all its glory. High back dining chairs will partially obstruct the view of the table’s surface, whereas a bench of course won’t.

5) It looks great

Chair and bench combinations are catching on as a trend because they look so good. Mixing and matching enables you to flex your creative side, whilst giving your room a distinct and unique look.

Are there any disadvantages to combining chairs and benches?

Obviously, it’s a matter of preference, but the approach isn’t for everybody. Comfort is perhaps one of the main perceived downsides – a good, padded dining chair undoubtedly offers more comfort and posture support than a bench.

Additionally, if all of your guests prefer to sit on chairs, then some may be left disappointed.

5 tips for getting it right

Dining table with combination of bench and chairs

So, you’ve seen the pros and cons and you’re keen to introduce the approach into your house or flat? Here’s some tips and advice on how to execute successfully.

1) Decide on your furniture type

Some furniture styles are naturally more suited than others to this approach and indeed you’re likely to find more choice and options within a few notable styles.

Reclaimed or rustic styles are particularly popular and industrial is another to consider. Don’t be put off by the word industrial – it may evoke images of a steely, cold interior, but ‘light industrial’ is bringing this style into the mainstream, reflected by the fact that many high street furniture stores now stock industrial-themed ranges.

2) Quality is key

Particularly as you’ll sometimes be squeezing a few extra guests onto a bench, you’ll want to ensure that it’s robust and strong enough for the job. Therefore, try to avoid the cheaper end of the market, as you’ll invariably get what you pay for.

3) Bold chairs are a brave move

Unless you’re absolutely convinced that a bold choice will work, it’s best to be relatively conservative with the colour and pattern that you choose for the dining chairs.

As is the case with furniture in most modern decors, it doesn’t need to match, but it does need to coordinate. Think neutral and natural, as these sorts of chairs will usually blend really well with the accompanying table and bench, especially if you’ve opted for a rustic or reclaimed style.

Of course, the chairs don’t even need to be the same, but this does add an extra element to consider, and so matching chairs are often easier.

4) The bench and table should probably match

Certainly not an absolute rule, but you’ll often be on safer ground getting a table and bench that match (i.e. from the same range) and then coordinating the chairs.

5) Add comfort with cushions

Finally, remember that there is an abundance of bench cushions out there to choose from – either individual cushions or ones that will span the entire bench. You might well be happy to sit on a wooden bench without cushioning, but buying a cushion will often make the bench more comfortable.

Choosing a coordinating colour for the cushion will also allow you to visually tie it in with the dining chairs, thus offering an additional, aesthetic benefit.


Industrial dining table with bench

A combination of chairs and a bench around your dining or kitchen table offers so many benefits. It’s a creative way to bring energy and a convivial atmosphere to your dining area and is certainly a growing trend that looks set to stay.

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