REALLY comfortable kitchen table and chairs

gwloloAugust 6, 2013

Please help me with ideas for my kitchen table set up.
I envision the kitchen table to be a place not just for casual family meals and quick breakfasts but a place where people can hangout and catch up for while. Maybe play board games or card games, do homework, coffee/ wine & gossip sessions with friends and neighbors, sit down for a long prep session for canning or holiday baking, long lazy saturday mornings with brunch and coffee and the newspaper.

I am sure many of you have such tables and chairs. So tell me what kind of chairs are super comfortable for people to sit for an extended time? Cushions, arms, slanted backs - what makes it comfortable? Is your kitchen table standard height or lower?

Here is what I have so far.

Kitchen table next to the window seat at the end of the galley kitchen. I like the window seat. It is deep enough for lounging, has a nice view of the garden. The kitchen table is butcher block and really solid. Need some refinishing. The trestle legs work with the window seat. The size 54Lx30Wx30H sort of works. I am not sure if a lower height would be more comfortable for prep and tasks like homework or not. So table is not 100% certain.

Some cushy cushions for the seat and back. I also have some throw pillows.

View to the living/ dining room to the left

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robo (z6a)

The table looks uncomfortably high to me, but most people in my family are short. Is it really 30h (or is that chair a little low)? That's within the range given for tables.

For me, the most comfortable dining chairs have padded seats and backs and are somewhat oversized in the bum department. I am on medium-sized end of tallness and a little plump. I like a somewhat low seat (17") and lots of cushion for long sitting. Back height not too high, maybe 18". Personally I don't like the little 'wings' that come down to the seat and cradle your butt, nor do I really love arms, because I like to swivel and get off the side of the chair at times.

Beware cheap cushioning that lets the crossbar at the front of the chair dig into your lower thighs. I hate that.

I recently went for a fairly fancy seven course meal at a local charcuterie (you know, few attendees, all local food, that kind of thing). The experience was almost ruined by her stools, which were maybe like 10 inches in diameter, had 1/2 inch of padding and were the most bum-numbing things to sit on I've ever experienced. Honestly wood would have been better. OK for a quick bite but for a leisurely multi-course meal, we all had to hop off and stride around between courses!

    Bookmark   August 6, 2013 at 3:51PM
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robo (z6a)

PS I love your window seat and those cushions look awesome!!

    Bookmark   August 6, 2013 at 3:52PM
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Funny you should be asking this question with those particular chairs. I've had a family hand-me-down dining table and chairs for 32 years. Who knows how long someone had them before me? I can't decide if they're maple or cherry, but I've always said maple. I call them Early American. They're not my style but the wood is solid and has taken a beating and still looks great. It's my dining table, kitchen desk, project worktable.

I've been looking for a good replacement for years. I finally found a custom furniture place and think I'm going to have them make me a quarter-sawn oak table. I have no intention of matching the chairs. So now I'm on a quest to find something that goes with the table and is comfortable. I need back support all the way down. I want at least one with arms of some sort. All my chairs have them; they don't look very substantial, but it's just enough to rest my elbows and most of my forearms. That will be my seat. Although there is no padding, the smooth contours make them remarkably comfortable. I would love to get something with an upholstered seat or find cushions that don't look country. I also like that they don't stick up high above the table, which is 29" high btw.

I don't want to pay $300 and up per chair. There are so many tempting choices on Overstock, etc., but I'm very wary about buying 4 chairs seat unsat, know what I mean?

    Bookmark   August 6, 2013 at 4:21PM
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robotropolis - that chair is too short. It is just a random chair I had in the house that I was test driving. The table is 30in tall. Glad you liked the window seat. A lot of thinking went into the design and I am happy with how it turned out. I hear ya about the hard seats with silly thin cushions. That is exactly what I want to avoid.

Linelle - I am going for an eclectic look for the chairs as well. I don't want matchy matchy here. I like the chair with the short elbow rests but mine is too short. Or the table is too tall by a couple of inches. I am wary of 4 or 6 chairs in many of the online sets. All I want are a couple of comfortable chairs.

    Bookmark   August 6, 2013 at 4:45PM
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Have you thought about a pedestal table?

From [1920s kitchen project](

As for chairs, I'd find something that is upholstered, at least the seat. Or a comfy cushion that really stays in place. This might be too fancy, but looks comfortable, with back and seat upholstered. From Pink kitchen

    Bookmark   August 6, 2013 at 6:19PM
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Two places people sit and wait for awhile are airports and hospital/doctors waiting rooms. I was doing that recently and was surprised at the comfort of the seats of some chairs. They turned out to be commercial but with a 7 or 9 degree slant back. This made the sitting position comfortable without anything special needed from the back.

    Bookmark   August 6, 2013 at 6:38PM
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Lavender - thanks for chiming in. I like pedastal tables. but with my window seat, I needed something with a straight edge. I am hoping that 2 adults or potentially 3 younglings can sit in the window seat. I need seating for 2-3 more on the other 3 sides.

Dan --> that is a good point about airports and dr's offices.

I really like mid century modern look. The clean lines and simplicity appeal to me. As this space is compact, how about something like the classic Eames chair. Could it work?

Here is a link that might be useful: Classic Eamas chair by HermanMiller

    Bookmark   August 6, 2013 at 7:32PM
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Bauhaus or Breuer chairs are very comfortable. GWlolo, If you're looking for mid-century modern, they would be perfect! I had some that were about 25 yrs. old with upholstered seats and cane backs that I sold in a garage sale for next to nothing. Seven years later, I'm sorry I didn't just reupholster the seats. Those chairs have a bit of spring to them. Just make sure, if you get arms, they are at the right height. Google Breuer chair.

    Bookmark   October 29, 2014 at 10:10AM
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I hope this means you are inching closer to the grand reveal! You have such a gorgeous kitchen and I would love to spend a morning or two mooning over your pictures!

    Bookmark   October 29, 2014 at 12:14PM
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GWlolo, No one has mentioned yet that the seats should be deep enough to offer some support (just as a couch) for your thighs and legs, as you will be sitting on them for extended periods. I personally like a higher back for support when you are relaxing and leaning back, but the chair has to be shaped overall for comfortable sitting.

I don't think you would want to buy anything online without having the ability to sit in and test them, as Linelle already noted.

Herman Miller (who makes the Eames chair you pictured) is known for their quality, at least for the Aeron-type chair that I use in the office, however, they are not inexpensive (as the link you included to their website bears out).

I don't have a recommendation for any brand, but have you considered seeing if there are any estate or garage sales near you? Sometimes you find quality well-made items from the past when someone is downsizing or moving to a nursing home or passes away. Sometimes they are given to a hospital thrift store or a Goodwill, Habitat, Salvation Army or that kind of store by people who just want someone who will cart it away from their home. It is not necessarily bad quality,in fact, it may be excellent quality, even unique custom-made, but is just something they can't use any more. Just a thought.

    Bookmark   October 29, 2014 at 1:24PM
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Most people want wood dining set, but not me. I wanted one like my sis had. The set was made by Master Craft I think. That was a company well known for office chairs and that is what I bought. The table is cream color metal with a pale Formica surface that looks like light wood. The chairs are wonderful. They are upholstered, they swivel, the backs are rounded and they rock a bit. We even brought the chairs in the living room when we had a lot of people over.

    Bookmark   October 29, 2014 at 1:34PM
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