A Guide to Dining Room Chair Styles

By Bailiegh Basham · February 13, 2019

A Guide to Dining Room Chair Styles

Style tips to know before purchasing your next set of dining room chairs

Amish handmade dining furniture sets are an investment that will last for generations to come. Dining tables and chairs are meticulously crafted to meet your hardwood, stain, and design specifications. Before purchasing your next set of dining chairs, this guide will explore the following:

  • The anatomy of a dining chair
  • Dining chair materials
  • Common dining chair designs
  • Types of dining chairs
  • Dining chair design elements

Anatomy of a Dining Chair

The anatomy and finishing details of a dining chair can alter the style and functionality of a chair. Learn more about some of the elements present in each and every chair offered at Countryside:  

  • Solid wood construction: Only the heavy hanger bolts, kreg screws, glides, and upholstery in your chair are not premium American hardwood. Your chair will be free of veneers, particle board, and fillers.
  • Comfort formed seat: All our wooden seats feature a scoop for comfort which causes the seat thickness to vary slightly, but all are at least 1" thick.
  • Poured foam seat: All our leather and fabric upholstery is hand stretched over the longest lasting cushioning on the market. All our leather is full grain and all our fabrics are premium. No better upholstery is available than what we use.
  • Mortise and tenon joinery: Pictured below, this joint is used at every point of attachment and is reinforced with screws and glue as appropriate to ensure your chair lasts a lifetime.
  • Reinforced attachments: All our chairs also feature reinforced attachments like the corner blocking used here:


Dining Chair Materials

Similar to the dining table, a chair may utilize any variety of materials in its construction. The materials can impact the design and style of the chair, in addition to its functionality and comfort. Below are common materials often found in dining chair construction:

  • Wood
  • Metal
  • Upholstery/Fabric
  • Leather

Dining Chair Designs

Before getting into more specific design elements and chair styles, you should understand the most common types of chair designs you might consider for your dining table. 

Arm Chairs
Arm chairs live at the head and foot of the table. As the name implies, an arm chair features armrests. From a design standpoint, arm chairs can either match side chairs or be completely unique based on your preferences. The choice is up to you. Lastly, arm chairs can feature a wide array of building materials such as upholstery or leather. 

Side Chairs
The creatively named side chair is a chair that sits alongside a dining table. Similar to an arm chair, the side chair can feature any variety of building materials. In more casual dining settings, side chairs can be utilized for the entire table. In a more formal dining setting, consider adding arm chairs to the head and foot of the table.

Parsons Chairs
Parsons chairs are fully upholstered dining chairs featuring a tall, straight and armless design. The chair itself is pretty versatile in its ability to be customized with linen, leather or fabric upholstery. Utilize parsons chairs alongside a table, or at the head or foot for a unique spin on the more traditional arm chair. 

Folding Chairs
Folding chairs do just that: fold. In most dining scenarios, folding chairs are utilized as spare side chairs when additional seating is required. Folding chairs conveniently fold up to be stored away when not in use. Folding chairs are not typically utilized as part of every day dining.

Dining Chair Styles

The dining chair style will impact the overall look and feel of your dining room. Your chair style can also match the aesthetic of your home and existing dining table.

Mission Style Chairs
In pure Mission style, a kitchen chair is sturdy, straight, and strong. Our Parron Mission Chair is an excellent example of this style. Rails and aprons are simple and a slight arch is all the adornment these receive. Mission rails sometimes have multiple slats, but in this chair, a solid splat is formed instead. When a base stretcher is employed, some of the tension of weight bearing is distributed throughout the chair. The square leg is a Mission design element that keeps this chair true to the style.

Shaker Style Chairs
Shaker style is typically very simple. When adding a Contemporary two-tone, two-wood finish, however, our classic Shaker Aragon Fan Back Chair is both chic and simple. The broad top rail in this chair is Elm in Burnished Honey stain leading down to the fan back. Slats of the back and all darker pieces of this chair are Brown Maple. The steam bent slats are curved for superior lumbar support.When buying chairs, note if the description indicates period correct construction or lumbar support. Period correct pieces will have a straight back. The trademark detail of Shaker style is the splayed or saber leg. This curving identifier, juxtaposed against a straight apron, catches the eye and assists in eclectic design. When table and chair legs complement each other, you have a winning combination.

Classic Style Chairs
At Countryside, we use our Classic Dining Chair category quite broadly. Traditional, Early American, and even some Old World dining chairs land here. The distinctive characteristic of many of our Classic dining chairs is the turned leg. Using a lathe, these beautiful works of art are handmade with the precision and artistry for which our Amish craftsmen are known. Dimensions of an arm chair typically account for the distance from the outer edges of each arm. Sitting space will typically be what is measured for the side chair.

Queen Anne Style Chairs
Queen Anne Style has traditionally meant ornate, made of Cherry, and stained dark with a hint of red. Countryside's Queen Victoria Dining Chair certainly fits that description and is pictured with a fabric upholstered seat. The cresting top rail is quite detailed and the ear is handcrafted to join properly with the rest of the stile. Frequently the entire chair back is carved as a single piece. The elaborate back splat fits into the shoe which is part of the seat structure. A scalloped apron is common in Victorian, Queen Anne, and French Country chairs as are the front cabriole shaped legs and pad feet. A bonus feature of the Regal's front legs is a reeded design that further elevates this formal dining chair.

Contemporary Style Chairs
An example of contemporary style is our Waterbury Dining Chair. Shown in two-tone and two woods, this chair fits in nicely with our collection of Contemporary Dining Chairs. A little more petite with fewer parts to connect, our Contemporary chairs are typically quite simple and elegant. The back features a waving detail that makes it truly Contemporary. This chair pairs nicely with Shaker or modern style dining tables.

French Country Style Chairs
French Country Style embodies both the simple pastoral French influence and the over the top Louis Phillipe style of furniture. Here our Westminster Dining Chair features a French Country take on a ladder back chair employing the cresting rail common to Queen Anne dining chairs. Cabriole legs and a scrolling apron add to the charm of this solid wood chair which also features a base stretcher. Pictured here is a rush seat which is a woven grass seat that is making a come back. Not every chair has a rush seat available, but the life expectancy of this type of seat is roughly 20-30 years. Our solid wood chairs, however, are built to become heirlooms and should last for several lifetimes.

Arts and Crafts or Craftsman Style Chairs
Arts and Crafts or Craftsman style furniture is as varied as any style. Here at Countryside, it is closely related to Mission, Shaker, and Contemporary styles with simple lines and clean presentation. The fundamental difference is the common use of geometric cut outs, Quartersawn White Oak, and extremely structured design. Our Eastwood Arts and Crafts Dining Chair perfectly embodies a pure example of this style.

Modern Style Chairs
Modern kitchen and dining chairs can update the look of any dining set. The best modern dining chairs consist of a combination of high-quality craftsmanship and forward-thinking design that easily adapts to special occasion entertaining or everyday, casual use. Multi-step stain colors range from natural to dark and wood chairs may or may not have arms depending on which variety you choose. The legs are usually straight and without adornments as opposed to curved or carved. Modern dining chairs may have a more petite profile, and often times include upholstered seats.

Farmhouse Style Chairs
Side or arm chairs with farmhouse style are available in a variety of hardwoods and rustic finish options. If going for a cottage-style theme, Farmhouse Dining Chairs are as functional as they are beautiful. Choose from a wide variety of options including classic farmhouse ladderbacks, simple and modern, or even rustic and industrial. All would make a beautiful addition to any of our dining tables, while mixing and matching dining room chairs creates a wonderfully custom look.

Dining Chair Design Elements

Once you’ve determined the style of dining chair you want, any number of design elements will provide the visual aesthetic, function, or comfort you want from your seating. 

Ladder Back Chairs
Our Early American Colonist Ladder Back Chair is a period perfect replica of the common Shaker ladder back chair. These chairs are often tall and narrow and work very well in kitchens or restaurants. Note that any painted dining room chair you see in Countryside's online gallery will likely be in Brown Maple. This wood is smooth and is the best option for painting.


Bow Back Chairs
Bow Back Chairs may fit into a number of style categories, but the common trait is the steam bent bow of the back. Our Magnussen Dining Chair, for instance, has a carved Queen Anne back splat, a smooth Contemporary base, and spindles in the bow back which is typically Classic or Traditional. These chairs are extremely versatile, but the stile is, obviously, not continuous. Most bow back chairs will feature a stretcher base for durability. Paddle back chairs, dowel back chairs, arrow back chairs, and feather back chairs are all bow back chairs. High and low versions of these types merely indicate the height of the chair back. Further, you will find "bent" in front of many chairs which means the paddles, arrows, or feathers have been steam bent to provide lumbar support. If that is not in the name, the chair is probably very straight and period correct.

Windsor Chairs
Windsor Chairs are a very specific type of bow back chair. Our Philadelphia Windsor Dining Chair is period perfect and demonstrates the steam bent midrail that continues through the arm. Colonial era furnishings frequently use this element. Spindles in the bow back and turned legs in the base further the Early American theme. Arrow feet that nearly come to a point complete this solid wood replication.

Sheaf Back Chairs
Sheaf back chairs are very Traditional kitchen and dining chairs. The spindles in the back of the chair are steam bent and appear to be wrapped in a piece of wood to resemble bundled wheat. 

Press Back Chairs
Press Back Chairs are typically Traditional, Early American chairs that feature a pressed image on the top rail. Pictured above is a wheat press back. This image is actually a pressing from a steel plate and not a carving, hence the name.

Wingback Chairs
Wing back chairs are typically characterized by high backs, winged sides, and wooden legs. Rooted in practicality and a stylish addition to libraries, dining rooms, or formal living rooms for centuries, the wingback chair is a classic worth revisiting for today’s home. Whether used as an accent seat or to complete your custom dining set, wing back chairs, such as the Alice Upholstered Accent Chair, are sure to make a statement.

Slat Back Chairs
The slat back chair is one of the most traditional types of chair backs. Very true of both mission and shaker styling, this classic design features a rectilinear form and several vertical slats. The slatted look is timeless and is often found in casual dining rooms or kitchen nooks. The Hurley Dining Chair has thin slats with arts and crafts inspired styling.

Cross Back Chairs
Graceful and contemporary, the cross back dining chair (also known as the X-back chair) is simple, modern, and neutral. This versatile design allows it to work in a variety of room styles. Not only for the dining room, this is one of the types of chairs that looks nice in a home office or as an accent piece throughout the home. Available with or without arms, the Arona X-Back Chair is a timeless example.


Splat Back Chairs
Splat Back Chairs, characterized by a vertical central element of a chair back, are found in nearly any style ranging from classic Queen Anne to modern and contemporary designs. The single splat can be very simple or extremely decorative. Our Jacobsen French Country Chair has this design and is elegant and sophisticated.

Other categories of our chairs are continuing to grow. Period correct cage and comb back chairs, for instance are being introduced in Countryside's online gallery. Folding chairs are also a new offering that takes our favorite chairs and makes them easier to store. If you have a chair you would like us to make into a folding chair, we can often accommodate. We are constantly adding new products to our dining and kitchen chair lines, so check back with us frequently to see what's new at Countryside Amish Furniture.

Now that you’re an expert on dining chairs, you’re ready to make an informed purchase. Countryside is here to help you make the right decision for your home. We look forward to welcoming you to our family of customers. If you have any questions, don’t hesitate to contact us.

Author, Baileigh Basham

Bailiegh Basham is Lead Sales & Marketing Strategist at Countryside Amish Furniture. She's been a team member since 2014. Bailiegh is deeply passionate about furniture design and home decor.