While bathrooms and kitchens tend to monopolise our attention when we first move into a new home, it is the dining room that is arguably the most important of them all. For a lot of people, in fact, it is the hub of their family and social lives - which means that getting the right look (and feel) is all-important.
Dining chairs are as crucial a component of that as any other. Buy uncomfortable or easily-damaged chairs and your ability to throw the buffet evenings and children's birthday parties of your dreams could be severely compromised. That's why we've put together a guide on choosing the best seating.
Comfort is arguably the most important part of a dining chair, as it is a seat on which you or your guests will be sitting perhaps for upwards of three or four hours.
Boxy chairs which leave you hunched up are therefore generally discouraged. It's much more advisable to buy chairs that are a.) curved to support the natural indent of your lower back, and b.) open so as to allow people to spread their arms and legs when they need to.
Remember that arm rests can also be useful depending on the profile of person who will be sitting in the chair. For example, elderly people - or else those who experience serious mobility issues - will obviously find it easier to stand up after a long period sitting down if they have something to hold onto.
A close second behind comfort, in terms of your priorities, is space. It should go without saying that those with cramped or boxy dining rooms should look to buy as small and compact chairs as they can to keep the area free for serving and enertainment.
The best way to accomplish this is to buy chairs which fit snugly underneath the centrepiece table. This usually means avoiding arm rests altogether, and making sure the hind legs don't protrude too much away from the seat.
The other alternative to this is looking for chairs which can either be folded away completely, or those that can be placed, upside down, on top of the table when not in use. For the latter, however, you will need to have a very big and sturdy table - which are expensive, not to mention counter-intuitive if your aim is to reduce clutter.
While style isn't the primary consideration, getting a warm and personal look is crucial to cultivating a dining room space that is perfect for entertaining friends and family.
To this end, it is tempting to go for soft, plush furnishings which look homely and inviting. However, be warned: these are a lot more difficult to clean, while being more prone to wear and tear. If you have messy young children in the house, or plan to invite them for dinner regularly, this is probably a big no-no.
Hard surfaces can be just as stylish, and if you're worried about comfort you can always lay on some flat cushions in the event that you have anyone round who needs the extra support.