Here's a fantastic idea for anyone looking for uber-durable chairs but can't seem to find ones that fit the budget. Since so many manufacturers offer affordable outdoor chairs these days, you can bring the outdoors in — as long as you do so with a keen eye. Aluminum chairs like these work well with industrial or eclectic decor; they can also withstand wound-up kids who often spill sippy cups and strawberry ice cream where they sit.
Pretty banquette, huh? Fooled you, it's a settee against the wall. Here's an amazing alternative to a pricey, custom built-in. With the proper scale, a sofa or settee can work beautifully at a dining table. The biggest objective is to ensure it's easy for guests to get in and out of. If the piece is roughly 24 inches longer than the table on each side, that should do the trick. Also, stick with settees that have low-slung arms or that are completely armless.
Dimensions are everything in situations where custom banquettes are mixed with chairs. Notice the pair of slipcovered chairs here on each end? Pretty, right? Yep, and functional too, thanks to a wide enough space between the chair and the banquette. When space is tight, a slightly deeper tabletop will allow enough space for guests to slide past whoever is seated in side chairs, then slip into the booth. (How annoying would it be to have to ask someone to get up each time a banquette-seated guest needed to pee? I'd probably complain to the manager about it, even though the management is probably your friend or relative who owns the home.)
Probably the most traditional way to mix up seating styles at the table is to combine slipcovered armchairs with classic, upholstered side chairs. They don't have to be the same exact style. Keep the scale and overall proportion in check and you'll be good to open up that box of wine and get those TV dinners on the table (kidding).
Here's a showstopper I've done twice that's as great to look at as it is to dine at: wingbacks and benches at the same table. This combo is an excellent option for square-footage-challenged spaces like condos or apartments; being able to see directly over one side of the table to the other keeps the dining room feeling open.
Sticking with chairs not necessarily meant to go with dining tables is an excellent way to furnish a room and create a conversation starter at the same time. Sure, these hand chairs may be more bold than the average beige-tastic design lover can handle, but they definitely defy convention. Also, can you imagine all the one-liners guests would come up with here? "Let me give you a hand," "Your hand is touching my leg" and "I've got you in the palm of my hand for dinner tonight" are some of the worst, just to name a few.
Something else to consider is the idea of letting your dining room seating double as sculpture. If upholstered or metal chairs don't get you going, try an unusual material.