...because home doesn't happen overnight.

I love interiors that mix different styles together to create a truly unique space.  In the 3 years that we’ve lived in this spec house, I’ve slowly introduced this idea into my own home to keep it from feeling too cookie cutter-ish.  There’s one space in particular that I see a lot of homeowners reluctant to utilize this concept…the dining area.  Maybe it’s because I’m from the midwest.  I know so many people who think it’s a travesty to separate matching dining sets:  table, chairs, buffet, sideboard.  Everything must match.  But I beg to differ.  Not only can it add personality to the dining space, but it can be cheaper too.  For instance, you could find an inexpensive dining table at an outlet and pair it with affordable chairs from craigslist.  You don’t have to spend tons of money or time trying to match the chairs to the table.  Let’s look at some examples for inspiration.

A rustic masculine table is softened by curvy upholstered chairs.

A simple modern table mixes well with more ornate chairs.

A traditional wood table warms up glossy metal chairs.

And if you’re feeling especially rebellious, you can even mix up the chairs.  Here an industrial zinc table is surrounded by leather, wooden and slipcovered chairs.

A traditional black table is lightened up with white slipcovered side chairs.  The head of the table makes a statement in bold stripes.

A chunky table with simple lines gets cozy with slipcovered chairs, a built-in bench and plenty of pillows.

Mixing and matching isn’t just for high end interiors.  Here’s my mixed up, budget-friendly dining area.

The black table was a deeply discounted find from JCPenney.  It includes a self-enclosed leaf so that the table can extend into a square to seat 8 when necessary.  Kid-friendly {and wipeable!} plastic side chairs play nice with slipcovered chairs.  All the chairs came from IKEA.

So, if you’re looking to furnish or spruce up your dining space, think outside of the conventional dining set.  Mix styles, colors and materials for a perfectly imperfect feel.  Already have a matched dining set?  Sell some pieces to fund new non-matching finds.  Can’t bear the thought of selling ’em off?  There’s nothing wrong with splitting up the pieces among your home.  They don’t all have to live in the same room.  Try a sideboard as an entertainment center or a buffet as an entryway drop zone.  Get creative!

images:  1) Decor Pad 2) Brooke Giannetti on Decor Pad 3) Amy Neunsinger on House Beautiful 4) Brooke Giannetti 5) Tia Zolden design and Jeremy Samuelson photography for Cottage Living 6) Inspired Interiors 7) Dana Miller for House*Tweaking



I love the looked of mixed chairs. It’s just so much more interesting than most matched sets. I love your dining room!


love the first two
actually their all lovely
i really like mixing rustic and modern


Love the looks. I wish I had been into this style of mixing and matching when we bought our DR table and chairs. The hubby would kill me if I wanted to sell them now. I might be able to slipcover them though and that would give it a more casual feel. I’ll have to buy one and see how it looks on my chairs. Thanks for the great eye candy. :D


I’m doing this in my dining room and I’ve been looking for a glass-fronted china/display cabinet (not unlike the white one you have in your kitchen/family room) only in a nice bright color – red, blue, green (open to several shades of green). I’m really struggling to find nice clean lines, any suggestions? thanks.


Love these ideas! As soon as I move out of my studio and have a dining room, it’s going to be all about mix and match. Keep the ideas coming, Dana!


I loved this post! I am the not-so-proud owner of a matchy dining room table and chairs. To my defense, I bought it several years ago before I realized it was ok to have things that don’t match! One day I will tweak it with different chairs or something…if I can get it past the hubby who just doesn’t see anything wrong with it…haha :)


Hey Dana! I’m new to your blog and absolutely LOVE it. I’m diggin’ on all your posts! I just recently bought some Tolix knock-off chairs at Overstock and paired them with some different chairs in my dining room. I have a cabinet from a flea market and a buffet from the Ballard Outlet…nothing matches but I love it…some of my friends don’t get it…the idea scares them a bit…I guess I’ll never be a buy by the room type of girl! Thanks for all the inspiration!!


Just saw your blog linked on Holly Mathis Interiors. I thought I would share :)



Erin – Thanks for the link! Wow!


Ashley – Our dining table came with matching chairs. After using them for a year, we kept only 2 {one I painted white recovered the seat & use in our craft room, the other acts as extra seating when the table is extended} and found the replacements you see now. Take your time!


I inherited a formal dining room set but with the passage of time and the activity of my children two chairs broke. I added non-matching chairs years ago and now – it’s fashionable!

Yes, yes, yes…couldn’t agree more! I think mixing various styles requires a good eye for editing the space but can really add amazing layers of design in a room. You found great pictures for this as well.


love your blog. you have a great eye and wonderful, fresh talent!


I have the same style table as yours, but it’s a natural beechwood instead of black. I’ve had it for 15 years. I’ve been wanting to switch out the ugly matching chairs for a while now, but I just haven’t committed to a purchase. This post just may give me that push I need… inspiration at it’s finest. Thanks!


I couldn’t agree with you more! And I love the idea of mixing rustic with formal with modern, etc for that ecclectic look. I still have my hand-me-down drop leaf table from my mom, but very soon I hope to start shopping for the dining room…when I tell people what I’m going to do, the look of surprise on their face is priceless. They can’t fathom the idea of not purchasing a dining room set. It cracks me up!


I ADORE this idea. I’ve been trying to slowly convince my streamlined, minimalistic husband that strategically mismatched dining room furniture is really charming and stylish. We just got married, so we invested in a classic espresso table and chairs. I think pulling in other pieces will be lovely when we move out of our downtown townhome to more space! Thanks for the additional inspiration!

I love the idea of mixing styles, colors and patterns. I took this in a more casual sense in my kitchen with mix & match kitchen table chairs… http://www.missiondecorate.com/2011/01/painted-chairs.html


I have a small dining area in my new home.. the last area that really needs attention. I have being going crazy for the past eight months shopping on line and in stores for a dining room set. I want to do so bad .. but where so I start? Do I get the table first or the chairs??


Clearly I’m in the minority on “thinking it over”. I love captains chairs for a dining room, but I think the jumbled look of a wide array of different style chairs would bug me. It’s a OCD thing. :-)