The rules of home décor have changed a great deal in the past hundred years; whereas then everyone expected to have a formal dining room with a heavy wooden table and chair suite, people today are looking for more versatile pieces that can be easily moved, repurposed or stored when not needed for a dinner party, and provide good style and dependable seating at a reasonable price.
Modern Dining Dilemmas
Most people don’t have a dedicated formal dining space separate from the kitchen- instead in a larger home there’s often a kitchen/great room with one table that gets used for all family meals. Often there’s an expandable dining table that can seat groups as intimate as four or as large as twenty, but a matching set of traditional wooden chairs to seat that many at a holiday table can daunt even the most generous of furnishing budgets!
Meanwhile, in a small house or city apartment, the kitchen table ends up being part of the food preparation space. Chairs need to be easily placed out of the way for cooking before being put back for the meal. There also needs to be a way to keep extra seating available for when guests come for dinner, without taking up too much precious storage space.
Plastic Chairs to the Rescue
Enter the plastic dining chair! With the end of World War Two, new plastic goods flooded into the consumer market, and plastic chairs made their first appearance in home décor with the introduction of the classic Eames dining chair. Since then, many designers have been drawn to the new opportunities of both form and function made possible by plastic.
Plastic chairs are sturdy, and made of low-maintenance materials. No need to worry about re-caning seats, washing cushions, or refinishing wood! A quick wipe with a damp cloth and your plastic chairs are good to go. They are also sturdy, with their plastic and sometimes metal construction. There’s no need to re-glue loose wooden pieces.
Plastic chairs are also affordable. You don’t have to make a long-term commitment to a specific style you can use them for a few years and then move on as your tastes or living circumstances change.
Plastic chairs are open to a wide range of design possibilities. While materials are space-age, the design can be historical, or completely up-to-date. Colors can be bright, muted, or neutral, and some of the best are transparent or translucent.
Traditional design in a modern material
Some of the most fun plastic dining chairs are those that have the same form as classic furniture design. For instance, echo the flowing lines and intricate detail of an antique French chair, but they’re lightweight and easy to store. The transparent plastic takes up less visual space, creating a lighter and more airy feeling in the room. It’s a great way to create a whimsical vintage look with either a set of four grouped around a square or round wooden table, or used in a boho bedroom where one would be a striking dressing table chair, or two could be used as a substitute for bedside tables, with the back’s ornate design adding a graphic element against a contrasting wall.
In a similar vein, the modern acrylic dining armchair is in itself now a classic, while at the same time being a take on a formal wooden armchair of traditional dining room décor. One or two can work well at the ends of a dining table, or as seating in a small living room. In a bedroom the hard surface can be softened with a throw or cushion for a softer look. First popularized in the 1970’s, this iconic modern piece sets a sophisticated tone in an urban loft and can add a playful touch in a more traditional décor. It matches well with the transparent polycarbonate side chair for a coordinated look. Both can be used to supplement wooden chairs around an extended dining table at a large gathering without creating visual clutter.
Modern plastic design
Some of the best plastic dining chairs forsake traditional design and are unabashedly modern. The fluid lines of the low-slung curved plastic dining chair, along with its gleaming chrome legs, will fit perfectly into a modern space, and then stack neatly out of the way. This neutral design is a good fit not only around the dining table, but also at a desk or as extra living room seating.
A chair that go from the deck or balcony and back in to the dining room can be a great bonus in a tight space with a small budget. Plastic chairs that look equally good by sunlight or candlelight are a great idea. The white modern plastic dining chair has the sturdy construction and all-weather resistance to fit right in next to a pool or out on the balcony. But even if you don’t have access to the outdoors, a set of these stackable chairs can create a relaxed feel for your indoors.
Finally, the dining side chair has an ornate pattern of lacework cut into its back that will make a striking statement in a dining room. Whether you opt for crisp black or white, subdued grey, or brilliant red or green, the pattern will add visual interest, especially against a painted contrasting wall. Use them as casual kitchen seating or as extra chairs in a modern living room. A row of two or three red chairs lined up along a white wall with a breakfast bar in a sunny kitchen would be both beautiful and practical!
Choosing the right dining chairs doesn’t have to be a lifetime commitment. Augmenting an existing dining suite with additional plastic seating, or starting out with a clean slate and a fun and functional set of easy-maintenance and low-cost plastic chairs is a budget-friendly and practical way to furnish your home!