What is a Side Chair?

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  • Written By: Mary McMahon
  • Edited By: Bronwyn Harris
  • Last Modified Date: 07 October 2019
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A side chair is a chair with no arms and a straight back, classically included in dining room sets, although there are many other uses for side chairs. Most furniture stores sell side chairs, in an assortment of sizes and styles to care to specific design needs. It is also possible to find antique side chairs, which can be purchased in a restored form or in less polished forms which require some individual attention to be serviceable. Enterprising woodworkers can make their own, if they feel so inclined.

The design of a side chair is fairly basic, but incredibly flexible. In order to be considered a true side chair, the chair need only be armless and have a straight back. Beyond that, a furniture designer has a great deal of license when putting a side chair together. These chairs can be made in a number of materials, and many designers add curvy accents, ornamental carving, and other touches which are designed to make a side chair distinctive.

Many side chairs are upholstered for greater comfort. Depending on the design, the back and seat may both be upholstered, or only the seat may be upholstered; especially comfortable chairs include springs in the seat. A side chair can also be made from plain wood, plastic, or metal, depending on the desired look. Many companies make side chairs with an ergonomic bent from hard materials which are curved to fit the natural curves of the human body.


When purchasing a side chair or a set of such chairs, it is a good idea to think about how they will be utilized. If you want to use the chairs as dining room chairs, you may want to buy them with a table, or bring photographs and other reference materials to the furniture store with you so that you can pick out the chairs which will best match your table. If you have trouble getting an exact match, go to the opposite extreme; side chairs which look radically different from the table can be stylish, while side chairs with slight differences in color and design simply look mismatched.

If you buy upholstered side chairs for the dining room, consider applying a sealant or a solution designed to help the chairs resist stains, as diners will inevitably spill on the chairs. It is also a good idea to get care directions for the upholstery, ensuring that you can keep the chairs in good condition so that they will continue to look good through years of use.


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