In my friends’ family home in Montana, they have a family heirloom that takes up most of the room it’s kept in. It’s a Scandinavian teak dining table, with two center-inserting leaves, and a storage compartment built to the underside to house them.
As a part of that set they have eight matching chairs, built wide and short, with black leather seats and backs, and carved in the same style as the legs and corners of the table. It’s an incredible set, which is why it’s odd that they don’t use the chairs. The chairs have found their ways into other parts of the house, sitting in corners and at desks in a mostly unoccupied guest room, the garage, and parts of the house that have been vacant since their children left home. In their place at the table are a set of chairs that are actually similar enough in color and style to not draw unwanted attention, but if inspected closely reveal themselves to be made of a different wood, with a different finish, and upholstered with nagahide bought by the yard.
It’s not that they don’t appreciate the value of the other chairs, or the value of having and keeping such a set together…they just don’t like to sit in the chairs.
Would you knowingly trade your delicious meal in for one that looks better, but tastes like rubber?
Would you trade your stainless or silver fork for porcelain tines that chipped and shattered inside your bites of food, just to better match it to your plates? The answers are no, no, and no again. There are specific criteria a chair must meet, and if it doesn’t suit, then don’t sit!
As is the case with my friends’ chairs, sometimes a table/chair, or desk/chair set seems as though it must have been built by giant trolls (albeit with skilled hands). If sitting in your chairs means resting your nose on the table, you either need to chop an inch off your table’s legs, or use different chairs.
Support your spine!
Your vertebrae are only stacked once, so you might as well make sure eating breakfast, lunch, and dinner doesn’t become a dangerous game of Jenga. If you’re in doubt about the quality of your chair’s back support, check with a physician, to see what kind of chair back your back needs. Usually what kills people is poor lumbar support in seats, leaving them with protruding lower spines, and an inability to do much of anything without a lot of stretching.
Trends bend, but class never goes out of style.
As long as you’ve got nice accent pieces, teak or hardwood tables, and precious wall hangings putting bits and pieces of self-investment into a space, there’s no reason to spoil the atmosphere with a slough of off color, offset, off putting chairs. Match your dining chairs with either similarity or contrast to your table, but don’t worry too much about it. The thing I’ve noticed about chairs is that there are a lot of them, and if their uniformity is roped into a unit by a matching table acting as a centerpiece, your dining area will look and feel a lot less cluttered.