Ten of the Best: Dining Chairs


Starting today it’s time for a new series in The Mad House. Once a month I will publish the ten best of various pieces of furniture and items. This is a follow on from a post I ran a while back on the best sofabeds.  I’ve no idea why I didn’t start a series then but, hey, better late than never.

So starting today (and thereafter on the first Thursday of every month) is the ten best dining chairs. This is something I am often asked about and, of course, by best dining chairs, we probably mean best kitchen chairs as that’s where we mostly sit these days. And, if you’re a fan of a long and leisurely Sunday lunch  and a family and friendly Friday night dinner (and who isn’t?) these chairs have got to be comfortable.

There will be no trendy benches here. Yes, they look good but at my time of life they’re suitable only for a quick weekday breakfast. Nor will there be any of those tall material covered chairs. One – ugly. Two – material? On dining chairs? How does that work? A friend of mine bought some once – when she had two children under five. It was the quickest route to a health hazard I have seen in dining furniture.

In short ugh and ugly and any other words beginning with ug that I can’t quite think of at the moment. There will now be a short pause while I google words beginning with UG….. *plays lift music*… and if you knew how long I just spent trying to insert some real life lift music in there… sadly the technology evades me.  In short, the scrabble dictionary doesn’t give me any words except for versions and varieties of ugly… Enough. On with the chairs. Starting – in no particular order I must add – with this:



from £169

norr 11 langue dining chair
norr 11 langue dining chair

This comes in a stacking version (with legs in black or brass) this wooden legged version and with seats in plastic or leather. I have sat in the leather version. It was heaven. And let’s not forget, leather improves with age. You can totally wipe it clean and it will develop its own patina. In an idea world I’d have a set of the black leather chairs. In the real world? Probably the stacking plastic but I might throw in a couple of brass leg versions too. If you came via the home page (rather than by direct subscription in which case click the logo to return to the home page) you will see another picture of it as the featured image.


French Connection


red leather school chair from french connection
red leather school chair from french connection

Another leather chair but this time it’s red. Now, before you panic, it’s a classic design and I’m not suggesting that all your chairs are red. Just add a couple of these to your more neutral mix. Red is a great neutral and it goes with far more than you think. Those fashiony people are always suggesting red handbags to liven up a plain outfit and they’re right. And, if you change your mind, they’ll be great in a child’s room as a desk chair.



from £155

real good chair by blu dot from heals
real good chair by blu dot from heals

Oh this is a beauty. And yes I’ve sat in this one too. It’s very comfortable – sort of hugs you in all the right places. Now the copper version is £345 but, again, you don’t need a set of six. It also comes in black for £155 so you can have four black and a couple of copper. Or even, I’m a big fan of the odd number; five and one.


Another Country


hardy chair by another country
hardy chair by another country

This contemporary classic from Another Country has just been awarded a Design Guild Mark, recognising the design of furniture in volume. The chair was commissioned to mark the brand’s fifth anniversary and it has future antique written all over it. It was named after Thomas Hardy, the Dorset-born novelist, in honour of the company’s heritage and designed by David Irwin. Classic and comfortable, you won’t go wrong with this.


£159 for two


Barbel Dining Chairs
Barbel Dining Chairs from

The afforable option but don’t fix on that. These chairs, with their gently curving back – making them look good from behind as well – would be perfect to mix with some of the more expensive choices. It’s lightly padded too so this is a comfortable option for when you’re going to have just one more glass…

J104 by HAY

Future and Found


J104 CHAIR BY HAY available from futurendfound

A design classic from Denmark, the J104 was created by Jorgen Baemark in the 1960s to bring good design to a wider audience. It comes in natural beech as well as black white and grey which would look really effective if you had a mix of all of them round your table.




viktigt chair from ikea
viktigt chair from ikea

Rattan is screamingly fashionable at the moment which is why I have included this chair. But I have also included it at this price because it is so fashionable. No point spending hundreds of pounds on something that you might go off in ten minutes. The vagaries of fashion aside, another good thing about this chair is that it is slightly smaller than average, which is perfect for those of you with slightly smaller spaces.



€749 for a set of four

touchwood chairs by hem
touchwood chairs by hem

These simple wooden chairs come in a range of colours and you can mix and match and buy in sets of four and eight as well. Made from ash, you can stack them up and they are simple in their purity – there are no extraneous details, which is an overriding feature of Scandinavian design (these are Norwegian). Again you can mix and match for variety or keep it simple.




lean chair by untothislast
lean chair by untothislast

Yes you read the price right. This company, which makes everything in London, believes that manufacturing at the point of sale makes firm business sense. They make to order and keep the prices really competitive. This is just one of their chairs but look at it in close up. Isn’t that fabulous? There’s an armchair version as well which is so simple it has no screws and no glue – it is literally held together by design.


Anthony Hartley


cable collection by anthony hartley
cable collection by anthony hartley

I’ve been a fan of Mr Hartley ever since I featured Edna in The Financial Times a few years back. This cable chair is simple and clever. You choose the colour of the wood you want and it comes with cable ties – you can also choose the colour of these. Then you simple assemble the chair. The ties are cheap so you can buy extra, so if you need to store the chair you can simply cut the cable, store the chair flat and reassemble as needed. This also means you can change the colour of the cables AT YOUR WHIM. Genius.


Kate Watson-Smyth

The author Kate Watson-Smyth

I’m a journalist who writes about interiors mainly for The Financial Times but I have also written regularly for The Independent and The Daily Mail. My house has been in Living Etc, HeartHome and featured in The Wall Street Journal & Corriere della Sera. I also run an interior styling consultancy Mad About Your House. Welcome to my Mad House.


  1. I like the design of HARDY CHAIR, If I want to buy dining chairs then i would definitely go for something like this, Design of this chair is extremely sophisticated and well-crafted and i think that’s the only reason why it is recently awarded a Design Guild Mark, recognising the design of furniture. Thanks Kate for sharing this post.

  2. Oooh really looking forward to this series. I really enjoyed the lighting series so expecting to learn loads over the coming months.

  3. I’m so glad you focused on comfort! When you’re sitting in a chair, you can’t see its pretty design, but you can feel bad design. We have Louis XIV chairs with nice cushioned seats and haven’t had food/stain issues, despite a kid growing up with them. And they are very comfortable.
    Years ago I saw a movie set in a Russian dacha, and they had no living room–everything happened around the table, which had an eclectic collection of armchairs. I thought it was a brilliant idea for dinner parties that tend to go on for hours because the conversation is so good. The worst thing is to pop that bubble by suggesting a move to the sofas for coffee.

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