Contemporary chairs, particularly those made especially for the dining room, have not usually been designed ergonomically in a way that is encouraging good posture.
There are several ways you can improve the experience of sitting in an especially hard dining chair for your guests:
- If it is possible, adjust the height of their seats so they are in an ideal position at the table for the majority of adult guests. If you can sit with your feet on the floor and your knees nice and straight at a ninety-degree angle, then you’re probably good - it actually has more of an impact on your posture, and therefore comfort, than you might think!
- Adding a cushion to both the seat will increase the comfort of a chair exponentially. Pretty much any pillow will do for the seat, though if you want a more permanent solution, you should opt for those that can be tied down underneath the chair itself or affixed in another way.
- You might also consider putting a cushion or some covered padding over the back of the chair, particularly those that are designed to offer good lumbar support, especially if you like to host dinner parties or have everybody at the table together on a regular basis for mealtimes, as otherwise, backs can start to ache!
- Don’t want to spend any money making the chairs you already paid for more comfortable? Well, unless you can get it for free, the least expensive way to do so is to make your own with craft foam that comes in large sheets and can be custom-fitted to a slatted chair, covering up those uncomfortable gaps. Fabric stitched over top gives them a more finished look.
- Another way to add comfort to a chair is to add padding to the armrests if there are any. It doesn’t do as much for you as the back cushions do, but it’s good for resting your arms when you’re not eating and can be useful for small children or those with mobility issues.
- Although nothing to do with the chair itself, one way you can make sitting in a chair more comfortable is working on your natural resting position and posture more generally. By making sure that your hips are pushed back in the chair as far as they can possibly go, as well as making the height adjustments mentioned above, you’ll find yourself more able to find a comfortable position.
Are wood dining chairs uncomfortable?
Not necessarily! For some reason, they have garnered a bit of a reputation for being a stiff, unpleasant place to sit, but this is not the case for many of the wooden chairs there are out there - just a sad minority.
Rather than thinking about the material of a dining chair, what you should really think about is its shape. We don’t tend to sit in them for more than two or three hours at the most, and that’s only on special occasions!
As a result, the lack of cushioning isn’t really that impactful with a plain wooden chair. As long as it is curved just enough to keep you sitting up straight without being too rigid - a difficult sweet spot to meet - then you should be fine for a good long while.
Opting for a style of chair that has what’s known as a “seat scoop” - an imprint or “scoop” on the char itself - means the person sitting in it isn’t resting their behind on an uncomfortably solid, flat surface for prolonged periods.
That being said, whether something is “comfortable” or not is usually a matter of opinion, so what one person considers the best chair they’ve ever sat in, another might hate it and find their back in a spasm after only a short amount of time.
If it’s plausible for you, picking out a wooden chair that’s been covered in foam and then upholstered is a good compromise, giving you the aesthetic of wooden legs without sacrificing the padding that your guests will definitely appreciate.
Those with arms are also probably more comfortable and functional for folks with mobility issues or physical disabilities, depending on how much space there is around your table.
If you or someone else that’s eating with you has a sore back, you could always use a cushion both to sit on and rest your back against as a temporary solution. It doesn’t have to be fancy - just the throw pillows from your sofa will probably be fine!
Is it bad to sit on a hard chair?
Nope! Unlike what you’re probably thinking, a harder chair is actually better for your spine and overall posture than a softer one would be, over a long period of time anyway. This has been proven by scientific research!
Although you might believe a softer, plusher chair is comfiest to sit in, a firmer chair might not give you the same sinking feeling, but what it does offer you is support. Without a hard enough resting place, your back will definitely ache eventually.
In fact, the wooden dining chair was originally designed to deliberately encourage a more rigid upright sitting position, although this can discourage the spine’s natural S shape when it comes to slouchy children, so be aware!
Of course, you don’t want it to be rock hard - if it’s possible, you should try and have a little bit of a pillow for your back, either beneath the upholstery as part of its design or as an added extra if you’ve picked out one that doesn’t have padding.
Finding a good middle ground can be difficult, as many people will experience repeated lower back pain if they sit on a softer chair for a considerable amount of time because it puts more pressure on the discs of your spine.
If you’re repeatedly sitting in a hard chair without any additional support, however, you’re going to feel the negative effects of that after a while. Try to look after your body by getting ergonomic furniture, where you can.