Musical Chair Color

chair color - dining room with mixed colors of Eames down-leg molded chairs - pinkwallpaper via AtticmagMixing chair color in the dining room crosses all styles and is refreshingly anti-neutral.

Recently, I’ve spotted more mixing of chair color in dining rooms and kitchens. What’s surprising is the wide variety of styles used for this musical chair approach. Perhaps the mixed hues are an antidote to all-white interiors which are so universally appealing they have become as predictable as the moon – you know you will see them no matter what.  Six years ago, when I chose this option for our country house, I did it to keep things casual. Today, modern furniture designs have adopted the idea for everything from DIY repurposed salvage chairs to a rainbow approach to Eames.

The logic behind mixing chair color goes in a couple of directions. You can pick the same chairs in different colors. Or, in the mix-and-match cottage tradition create the look by using different chairs within a limited color palette.

Modern chairs tend to have a low profile, which helps accentuate ceiling height. And the variety of colors from the Eames Molded Plastic Chairs with dowel-leg bases [top] brings life and focus to a classically proportioned dining room with neutral walls.

chair color - Eames molded plastic arm chairs with wire bases in mixed colors - ligiacasanova via AtticmagThe same iconic chairs bodies but with a wire base, were chosen by Portuguese designer Ligia Casanova in slightly more muted colors. It’s interesting to see how they provide  less contrast against a natural wood table than they do against a white one. Wire legs also seem more transparent, letting the colorful bodies hover over the floor.

chair color - silver, orage, pink and green industrial style chairs at a white kitchen table - house to home via Atticmag

Metal chairs are a practical choice and a color mix really pops in this super-white family kitchen (note the sweet red high chair). This mid-20th C industrial style, similar to Crate and Barrel’s Lyle chair, has an especially hip look (at least to me). Since this “table” is basically a wooden plank anchored to the wall on one side and the peninsula on the other (talk about a walk-around) there are no legs to compete with these arched chair gams.

chair color - Kartell Mr. Impossible mixed color chairs around a wood dining table - clear magazine via atticmagTransparent color makes Lucite chairs look almost ethereal around a wood table. Some of the best of this style are made by Kartell, which offers a variety silhouettes and legs. These Mr. Impossible chairs have colored bodies and clear legs that blend well with the stainless steel table base.

chair color - red, green orange and yellow painted chairs at a dining room table - design spongeRefurbishing a set of blah wood chairs is an everyday event in our wonderful world of milk and spray paint. This table has a definite DIY look that is also youthful and fun. I can practically smell blueberry pancakes cooking in the kitchen.

chair color - yellow, blue and green Crate and Barrel village chairs with a vintage heart-pine tavern table - AtticmagMy dining room doubles as our sun porch. It has minimal pale green walls and 13 windows so, inevitably, it takes on the color of the season. Our six-year old periwinkle, green, yellow and white Village side chairs pop when there’s snow on the ground and blend when leaves are on the trees.

chair color - white, yellow and black chairs and a blue bench around a white dining table - darling things via atticmagIn a Scandinavian-flavor dining room, a bench can stand in for a pair of chairs.  I also adore the way the high toddler boosters are worked into the color scheme.

chair color - Easter egg color uphostered and tufted chairs around a Saarinen pedestal table - Brunch at Saks via AtticmagTraditional chairs with Easter egg colors, upholstered seats and tufted backs easily could be redone thrifters or Grandma’s set from the ’50s. Setting them against the black-and-white striped wall and around the classic Saarinen pedestal base table gives it all a rather girly urban apartment vibe.

chair color - orange, gry, blue and ochre chairs in a cottage dining room - Ruthie Sommers via AtticmagA cottage look, complete with painted checkerboard floor, plays out in chairs with both a style and a color mix, sparked by a orange pendants. It also suggests affordablilty and an easy transformation by way of the paint store.

(Sources: pinkwallpaper, ligiacasanova, house to home, clearmagazine, design sponge, darling things, ruthie sommers, brunch at saks)

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15 Responses to Musical Chair Color

  1. Tricia Rose March 23, 2012 at 10:32 am #

    Mixed color chairs somehow look witty and un-pompous, the-more-the-merrier, which has to be a GREAT look for dining!

  2. RHome410 March 23, 2012 at 12:50 pm #

    I was thinking about different colored/patterned seats when I redo our dining chair cushions, but maybe I should think about different colored chairs! :-) Or not.

    I think my favorite is the chunky table with the Eames chairs and the monochromatic white wall.

    The one with the black and white wall paper and fancy pastel chairs makes me giggle… In a good and fun way. Not my style at all, but it looks, at first reaction, like an Alice in Wonderland room, or a version of a Victorian ice cream or tea shop. Just fun and girly.

    The last one tells me that whole house is probably a comfy, barefoot type of place to be.

  3. Beth March 23, 2012 at 12:53 pm #

    The older I get, the more I have embraced my eclectic side when it comes to decorating. It really fits me, and I spent so many years feeling like I had to fit in one box or another. Almost all of these photos get me inspired. Our kitchen table and chairs is an eclectic mix and really fits our lifestyle with small kids! :)

  4. cat_mom March 24, 2012 at 12:20 am #

    Jane–your DR cum sun porch looks like a serene and beautiful place to just sit and watch the scenery.

    (I love your candle holders!)

  5. marthavila March 24, 2012 at 3:25 pm #

    Love your dining room!!!

  6. Jane F March 25, 2012 at 1:37 pm #

    Thanks for the kind words about the dining room. We always try to put guests at seats facing out no matter what the season. Right now, everything is pink and green because we have my prize flowering cherry tree starting to bloom! Photobucket

  7. Patti March 25, 2012 at 4:04 pm #

    I love the eclectic mix! The elegant mirror, the industrial and the bright fun chairs. Perfect!

  8. Simply Grand March 27, 2012 at 12:27 am #

    I like all these but my two favorites are your own dining room–because its mix of closely-related colors is subtle enough that the mix comes as a discovery, after you’ve already registered the overall friendly vibe of the room. rather than as a design conceit that announces itself the instant you walk into the room–and the one just before it, for the way it takes the opposite approach, by cranking up the party feel even more with the addition of contrasting cushions.

    Now, I’ve always been a fan of muti-colored seats on otherwise matching dining chairs–clear back in the 1940s, Billy Baldwin was alternating blue & black seats on his own bamboo chairs–but the maximum-impact combinations in Picture No, 5 remind me of what got me started using the same kind of punchy contrasts in the first place, clear back when I was in high school: the brilliantly colored (but mismatched) two-tone satin band uniforms the Beatles wore on the cover of Sgt Pepper. Since then, I’ve never seen a contrasting welt I didn’t like.

  9. RHome410 March 27, 2012 at 1:46 pm #

    I need to read more thoroughly. I didn’t even see that was your very own dining room. I love the feel of it… Makes me want to redesign my house… I at least need a bigger window by our table! Since that would ONLY mean cutting out part of the giant bookshelf DH just built and installed for me, I’m sure he’ll be up for the change. :-/

  10. mbwife March 27, 2012 at 4:05 pm #

    love love love this post! The first picture really caught my eye – it was those pastels/muted colors against the gray. Very fresh. Your take on the trend in your own dining room is very subtle and would help someone take the leap if they were nervous about doing something like this (like me!)


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