It seems like a simple enough task to decide on a chair style and product for your commercial interior project... Until you get onto the internet and realise just how many contract suppliers and chairs there are out there to choose from. And then of course there are costs and project budget to think about, especially as a start up or small business. It’s finding that balance between a chair style that you love, that also doesn’t break the bank – and it is possible!
I’ve rounded up 9 contract wooden side chairs to suit plenty of businesses and interior styles, that cost less than £150 each. But firstly...
What is a side chair, and do I need to buy contract furniture for my commercial space?
The term side chair is essentially a dining chair that has no arms, and generally has minimal or no upholstery. On most commercial furniture websites you can filter your search by selecting “side chair” as a product page or page filter option.
Contract furniture is the term used for furniture that has been designed and manufactured for commercial use so that it can withstand heavy use environments such as hospitality and leisure interiors. This means you won’t need to replace your furniture every year (or even few months) from breakages, or losing its shape and looking heavily worn from constant use. Basically buying and using contract furniture is cost-effective for your business long term.
Contract furniture should also be manufactured with materials that meet the standards and requirements of these commercial or hospitality environments, especially if the chair has an upholstered seat pad or back. The fabric used will need to meet British Standards for flammability and be Crib 5 FR (fire retardant) rated.
Another great point to using contract furniture: you can also get customisable with you chair! A lot of contract chairs, and almost all of the ones I’ve selected below, have the option to choose the timber finish and the upholstery. So you could choose the Henley side chair below because you like that shape and style, and then get it in a timber finish that fits your interior design scheme, such as ash.
Here are some very useful tips when choosing and sourcing a commercial side chair for you interior design project:
Check the pricing. Not all contract furniture suppliers give prices on their websites as the price can vary depending on the quantity and finish (where applicable) that you want. Also bear in mind that any prices shown online are usually exclusive of VAT, and are based off a minimum quantity order and in the most basic i.e. cheapest finish for that item. Most suppliers will be more than happy to provide a free quote, or give loose pricing estimates if they don’t already show prices online. You'll just need to give them an initial quantity that you want of a particular side chair.
I might be stating the obvious here, but make sure to check the measurements and overall size of the side chair that’s caught your eye! Some chairs can be surprisingly wide or deep, or have a super low back compared to how it looks in images, so double check that the chair will happily fit under your tables and suit the size and layout of your commercial space.
This one can often be missed out when you find the perfect side chair, but check the manufacturing lead times shown. You don't want to find the perfect side chair and pay for it, only to realise that it has a lead time of 10 weeks to be manufactured and delivered and you need it way before then!
If you’ve seen a particular chair style you like on Pinterest or in a magazine, ask a contract furniture supplier if they sell something similar. Most suppliers should be more than happy to help you find a side chair they produce that fits your request. Sometimes contract furniture websites aren’t a finite list of what they make, so it’s always worth asking if you know what style/design of chair you’re after.
Okay so here are nine wooden commercial side chairs under £150*
BAMBA side chair from £99
Dimensions: 500 D x 430 W x 850 H
The Bamba side chair has a various selection of seat back designs to choose from, as well as being able to choose a stain i.e. timber finish that suits your commercial interior design project. The seat pad can also be upholstered (this will increase the price).
I personally love this two-slat back option with an un-upholstered seat to give a minimalist, clean aesthetic.
DAMA side chair from £83
Dimensions: 500 D x 450 W x 900 H
The Dama side chair is typically made of a beechwood frame, ash or oak is also available but just watch out for any price jump with changing the core material. Various stains are available, and again an upholstered seat pad can be added but will increase the price. What I like about this side chair is that it’s a simple design with a contemporary finish, making it a versatile option for almost any brick-and-mortar business.
AVON side chair from £130
Dimensions: 500 D x 460 W x 815 H
The Avon side chair is a standard beechwood frame available in multiple wood stain finishes, and the upholstered seat pad is part of the price - you choose the fabric/leather for the upholstered seat pad. I love the curved back to this side chair and how the upholstered seat pad is still visible when tucked under a table, because of the opening in the seat back.
HENLEY side chair from £129
Dimensions: 535 D x 440 W x 970 H
The Henley side chair is available in various wood stain finishes, and note that it has a tall back (this chair has the greatest overall height from the nine chairs I’ve selected).
In a light stain finish this side chair would look great in a café, or fit in well in a pub interior in a much darker wood stain.
BIBA side chair from £116
Dimensions: 550 D x 530 W x 840 H
The Biba side chair is available in the standard wood stain finishes and can also be finished in a colour stain lacquer (at an extra cost). The chair can also come with a cane webbing seat back as part of the design, but again this makes it a more expensive chair... It manages to stay under £150, just! I absolutely love the Danish style to this chair, and is also stackable which may be a bonus for you. Just be aware of it's relatively large footprint size.
BELMONTE side chair from £135
Dimensions: 550 D x 520 W x 750 H
The Belmonte side chair can be finished in various wood stains and has the option for an upholstered seat pad and/or back (shown with just an upholstered seat pad here). This chair has the lowest seat back height out of my selected list of wooden side chairs.
I really like the contemporary design to this side chair, I’ve seen it used in a lot of high-end hospitality projects with an understated, minimalist interior aesthetic. Like the Biba chair, this Belmonte side chair is also stackable.
18 side chair from £75
Dimensions: 540 D x 420 W x 890 H
The 18 side chair is a beechwood frame available in the standard stain finishes, and this particular chair also has additional ‘premium’ finishes and upholstered seat pad option from the supplier. Unsurprisingly these additional options come at an extra cost, but this chair is the cheapest out of the list so is still very much an affordable choice.
The 18 side chair is essentially a copy of the iconic No. 18 Thonet chair design, and can easily fit into a casual or high-end interior design scheme.
BABILA side chair from £109
Dimensions: 525 D x 440 W x 790 H
The Babila side chair is made up of solid ash legs and a veneered plywood seat and back. There's a few light and medium wood stain finish options, the seat and back can also be made in a technopolymer (i.e. plastic) material with plenty of colour options... although I do think the all-wood option looks best.
I really like the minimalist, Scandinavian look and feel to this chair achieved by the seat and back being made from the the same piece of material.
SIENA side chair from £99
Dimensions: 540 D x 540 W x 810 H
The Siena side chair consists of solid wood legs and a clear lacquered seat and back, all fixed together with the metal frame. The metal frame is only available in a white or clear powdercoat finish, but I have seen an almost identical design to this chair in the past where the metal frame was available in various colours.
The limited customisable options with this side chair allows a quick lead time, and it's design allows it to fit into any contemporary interior.
Do you have a favourite wooden side chair from this selection? I'd love to know! Let me know in the comments below, and if you need any interior advice or design help with choosing furniture for a commercial project get in touch via firstname.lastname@example.org.
* Disclaimer: the prices shown are guide prices taken from suppliers' websites at the time of writing this blog post, and are exclusive of VAT. Always ask for a quote from a supplier to ensure accurate prices and budgeting for your commercial interior project.
The contract furniture suppliers linked in this blog post have been selected due to the fact that they show prices for their products online; there are plenty of suppliers to find locally and online that will fit your budget and interior design style.