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For many of us, our living room is where we relax, hang out, play, eat, and work — that's a lot of life for one room to accommodate! And regardless of how many proverbial hats your living room wears, you need fitting living room chairs to ensure this versatile space can keep up with you.
Meet the Experts
At Living Cozy, we work closely with industry experts to bring you advice and recommendations you can rely on. In this article, you'll hear from the following pros:
A wingback chair (aka wing chair or wing-back chair) is a club chair with "wings" attached to the back. The design became popular in England in the 1700s and hasn't changed much since, making it easy to add classic styling to any space.
How it's used: According to Heather Mastrangeli, wingback chairs were historically designed to have a side return (or "wing") at head level to prevent drafts from hitting your face and neck. In addition, they were initially used around fireplaces to help keep the heat on the person rather than escaping. Wingback chairs are, therefore, ideal for use in living rooms next to the fireplace or either side of a side table to provide visual interest to the space.
A chaise lounge — literally translated as "long chair" — resembles a mix between a sofa and an armchair. You might think of it as a chair with an extended seat or footrest that can accommodate your legs or a one-person sofa designed for relaxing in a half-sitting, half-lying down position.
How it's used: Chaise lounges work well in larger living rooms, allowing you to match the style of your chairs to your sofa or sectional. They create a super comfy spot to read books, take naps, or watch TV, and most designs can be used as a loveseat-type sofa for more than one person if you find yourself short on seating.
A lounge chair is a soft upholstered armchair that can be used for almost any purpose in the living room. As the name implies, this type of chair is meant for lounging and comfort, and it comes in many different shapes and sizes to fit almost any style.
How it's used: According to Jennifer Collins of Inviting Interiors, lounge chairs are often used for watching TV or reading. She recommends picking chairs with a high back to support the head and considering the height of the person who will use the chair most for a comfortable lounging experience. If they're under 5'3", Jennifer recommends a seat depth of approximately 20"; if they're over 5'10", she recommends a seat depth of 23" or more.
A recliner is an armchair or sofa that allows the occupant to lower the backrest and extend a footrest, often with a lever or an automatic mechanism when the back is reclined. Many recliners boast adjustable lumbar support and headrests, and some include additional accessibility options. You can also find power recliners that operate at the push of a button and provide features like heat or vibration massage.
How it's used: Recliner chairs are popular for those who prioritize comfort, allowing you to lean back and put your legs up. Today's recliners come in a wide range of styles that enable them to fit in many different living rooms — they can even work in small spaces!
5. Slipper Chair
"So-called because it's the ideal place to sit while putting on shoes or slippers, the slipper chair is a petite number with short legs and no arms," explained Laura Rich. "These comfortable chairs are usually upholstered with a medium to high back and low seat height. The design is highly versatile and compact, so it's ideal for adding extra seating to small spaces."
How it's used: Slipper chairs have a casual appeal and are ideal for occasional seating or furnishing small nooks and corners. In addition, they're great for adding visual interest to a living room or home office design, and since they're ideal for putting on shoes, slipper chairs also work well placed beside your entryway shoe storage!
If you'd like your slipper chair to serve as a statement piece, Laura recommends choosing a bold, bright velvet finish that'll add a pop of color and draw the eye to the corner of the room.
A rocking chair (aka rocker) features two curved bands instead of legs, providing a back-and-forth rocking motion. This type of chair usually features a wood frame, but rockers come in several styles, and some rocking chairs can fold. You'll also find gliders, which provide a smoother front-to-back motion and come in a broader range of styles — some gliders come with a gliding ottoman set to put your feet up on.
How it's used: According to Heather Mastrangeli, a rocking chair is a good option for adding visual interest and a completely different type of seat to a living room. In addition, gliders are popular in nurseries and with parents raising small children, as they're typically quieter and smoother than traditional rockers.
Not quite a sofa, not quite a chair, the aptly-monikered 'chair-and-a-half' is the ideal middle-ground solution for homes that are light on space. It's an oversized armchair wider than the average chair but slightly smaller than a traditional loveseat. These chairs are excellent for adding extra space to curl up in the living room and can serve as a secondary sofa in small spaces.
How it's used: "A chair-and-a-half can offer extra seating in small spaces, serving as a secondary sofa if you have the room and want to maximize your seating. While it would be a tight squeeze for two adults, it's a great option for families with children or pets, providing somewhere comfortable to sit and read with a little one or snuggle up next to your furry friend," Laura Rich told Living Cozy.
A barrel chair is upholstered with an upright rounded back and sides, creating a cocoon to sit in! These chairs are super comfortable, visually striking, and great for providing additional seating without taking up too much space.
How it's used: "We love using barrel chairs in living spaces, not only as accent chairs but also as main pieces for everyday use. We incorporated a swivel mechanism to this custom barrel piece to give it the well-balanced blend of utility and style that a swivel chair offers," Sandra Fox, Founder of Sandra Fox Interiors, told Living Cozy. "When deciding what chair is best for your living room, we always recommend thinking about function first and then style — and don't be afraid to blend styles!"
9. English Rolled Arm Chair
An English rolled arm chair (aka English roll arm chair) is an armchair that takes on the classic arm design of a traditional English sofa. The L-shaped armrests are lower than the chair's backrest; they stretch from the back along the side and return towards the front, stopping short of the edge of the seat. These chairs often feature wood legs with plush upholstery and come in various styles.
How it's used: According to Heather Mastrangeli, English rolled arm chairs are great for adding extra seating to spaces with classic, traditional, or transitional home decor. In addition, they pair well with rolled arm sofas and other traditional living room furniture.
A bean bag chair is a large piece of fabric or leather filled with polystyrene balls or shredded memory foam. They conform to the user's body providing good support, and come in various sizes. For example, some are large enough to curl up on for a snap, while others are approximately the size of a side chair. In addition, some bean bag chairs feature a metal frame to help the chair keep its shape.
How it's used: Bean bag chairs offer a casual seating option that works well in modern living rooms, children's play areas, and lounge-style settings. They're also ideal for those who suffer from back and neck pain, as they can provide full-body support to alleviate tension.
A Papasan chair (aka nest seat, moon chair, or bowl chair) is a comfortable bowl-shaped chair with a removable cushion. This type of chair is typically adjustable with an upright base frame that holds a separate bowl frame designed to support the cushion. Both frames are usually made from rattan, wicker, or wood, and the cushion usually features a thick cotton filling similar to a futon mattress.
How it's used: Papasan chairs work well with mid-century modern sofas and retro decor styles in casual living room settings. They're ideal for adding extra seating in living rooms with limited square footage, but they also work well for furnishing reading nooks and small corners.
The Chesterfield chair is one of the most classic, widely-recognized styles in interior design. These chairs boast luxury quilted leather upholstery, deep button tufting, and classic style. And today's options are available with faux leather upholstery for those who prefer to avoid animal products (or high prices for genuine leather).
How it's used: "The Chesterfield is a certified icon — its signature rolled arms, nailhead trimming, and button-tufted upholstery create a traditional look that's as much a statement piece as it is a comfy place to put your feet up," said Laura Rich. "A Chesterfield armchair is perfect for adding a touch of sophistication with a classic edge to any space. These leather accent chairs work well in large, airy interiors and should almost always be the focal point of the living area."
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How to Choose the Perfect Living Room Chair
"Choosing a living room chair is an art, and there are a number of considerations to make before settling on the perfect seating option for your living space," said Laura Rich. "The size and function of the space are key."
It's essential to consider the size of the chair and whether it fits the living room space properly. You'll also want to think about how the chair will be used (e.g., regularly or sparingly) and the height/size of the people who are likely to use it.
For example, if your living room is on the smaller side, a low-backed chair or one that sits on tall legs will help to create an illusion of a larger space. Or, if you have ample square footage and a large family, opt for a larger piece of furniture that you can really sink into.
The height of the people using the chairs usually impacts seat depth. Here are some basic seat depth recommendations:
5'3" and under: <20"
5'4" -5'9": 21" -22"
5'10" and over: >23"
The style of the chair will impact whether it works with the room's overall design. Consider whether your living room has a more classic or modern style, and choose a chair that'll fit your space (and how you plan to use the chair).
The "Who, Where, Why, What" Approach
Laura Rich recommends the "who, where, why, what" approach to buying furniture. Here's how to use this method:
Who is the chair for? Do you have a large family? Children? Pets? If so, consider a durable and forgiving fabric with a sturdy frame.
Where will you place the chair? Think about the size and shape of the space, measure the room, and double-check the dimensions of your chair before you buy.
Why are you drawn to specific designs? What's most important to you; comfort, style, material?
What is the purpose of the chair? If you want to snuggle up with a good book, you might want a different chair than if you simply want to add a pop of color.