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Whereas sofas tend to bring out even the most daring designers’ modest sides, accent chairs present the opportunity to get a little experimental and engage more eccentric styles. Whether that means an accent chair suited up in a wildly-printed textile or rendered in an over-the-top shape, is entirely up to you! That said, starting from ground zero when accent chair shopping can arouse the desire to, well…take a seat. Options abound and it can be difficult to know where to start—comfort, style, size…? To simplify the search, we’ve partnered with Kyla Herbes of the intel-loaded blog House of Hipsters to tee up a seat-scouting cheat sheet that’s destined to help you land the perfect seat! 

Want to add personality, a splash of color, and extra seating to your space? Try an accent chair! They’re kinda like shoes; you can never have too many and they come in hundreds of styles. So, how do you pick an accent chair? Here are five easy rules to follow:

Accent Chair
Design by Cortney Bishop, Photo by Katie Charlotte

Rule # 1: Check For Comfort 

The number one thing I won’t compromise on is comfort. If a chair ain’t comfy, let’s face it, you’re not going to use it and neither will your guests. If you’re considering a chair, ask yourself, is this a chair I would curl up in with a book? Is this a piece that I would sit in while conversing with friends over a cocktail? If you’ve answered yes to either of these, proceed to the next rule!

Chairish’s Rec: A Club Chair 
Comfort connoisseurs will be enamored with the club chair’s pillow-y proportions, amply padded frame, and appealingly tactile leather upholstery. Club chairs got their start in gentlemens’ clubs around the turn of the 20th century but have since earned ardent fans of all genders. Look for club chairs with slightly angled backrests rather than straight vertical ones to up the comfort quota even more.  

Rule # 2: Assess the Condition

The main reason an accent chair lives in a room is to provide extra seating. Meaning, your accent chair is more than just a pretty face. With that in mind, make sure your accent chair’s sturdy enough to receive actual use. When hunting vintage accent chairs, you’ll find that defects like a snag in the upholstery or a missing button isn’t uncommon. Thankfully, these small issues can be easily repaired. However, a broken leg or a major wobble? Well, let’s just say no one needs grandma falling on her bum during Thanksgiving. If it’s not fixable, you need to part ways with the chair.

Chairish’s Rec: A French Bergere
When it comes to longevity, French Bergere Chairs’ exposed wood frame allows them an advantage over traditional accent chairs. Chairs with skeletal frames (or frames wrapped beneath layers of batting and upholstery) have to be entirely deconstructed in order to be reupholstered, whereas Bergeres can easily have their back and seat panels popped out for recovering. Another asset of the Bergere? They’re a common style that your local upholsterer is likely already familiar with. Meaning, that if your French side chair is in need of some TLC, any pro will likely know how to handle it.

Accent Chair
Design by Anglea Blehm / Photo by Sarah Dorio

Rule # 3: Match Your Existing Decor 

Whether you select an accent chair in a quirky color, shape, or fabric, it can be a great vehicle for making a statement in a room. That said, don’t go too crazy. I love the look of mixing different decor styles, but wouldn’t want to introduce a Mid-Century Modern chair into a room full of French Country furniture. The same rule applies to color. It’s fun to experiment, but keep in mind that the chair should complement your existing decor, not overpower it.

 Rule # 4: Consider Size 

I can’t tell you how many times I’ve purchased a piece of furniture and hauled it home only to discover it’s too small or too large for the space. Heartbreak ensues. Map out the area where the accent chair will live and measure it not once, not twice, but three times. Beyond actual space confides, it’s also wise to consider scale. If the majority of your existing furniture is apartment-sized, don’t opt for a hulking recliner. Keep it in the same family, scale-wise.

Chairish’s Rec: A Slipper Chair
A lack of arms and streamlined silhouette makes a slipper chair the kind of seat you can—as its name suggests—slip just about anywhere. In rooms where an armchair might feel too bulky, a slipper chair can feel almost ottoman-like in comparison. The slipper chair was originally designed to aid women in the endeavor of lacing up slippers but has since earned accolades for being a chic seat that exudes equal parts casualness and luxury in virtually any space.

Accent Chair
Photo by Nicole LaMotte

Rule # 5: Mind Your Budget

While an accent chair is an investment they won’t normally set you back like a sofa or bed will. Yet somehow, I always manage to fall for that gorgeous designer piece with a zinger of a price tag. On Chairish, you have the option to search by price, meaning you can easily set your max budget and filter out anything priced beyond it. With thousands of chairs to choose from, a price search will also help you find what you’re looking for faster.

Chairish’s Rec: A Mid-Century Modern Chair
In the mid 20th century, designers’ primary focuses were form and function, resulting in stripped-down seats that for the most part, forewent upholstery. Those looking for a cheap seat, so to speak, will find that the era’s lack of upholstery is their gain, as non-upholstered seats generally retail for less. Another reason Mid-Century Modern chairs tend to cost less? They’re not yet considered antiques. The clock is ticking, though, so by all means, grab a seat!

What is an Accent Chair? 

Like its name suggests, an accent chair is a sidekick seat, meant to amp the drama in a room in the presence of a subdued sofa or basic bed. In contrast to dining chairs, which often showcase a straight 90-degree back, accent chairs tend to come equipped with a more lounge-like, or reclined sihlouette. Accent chairs come in a wide array of shapes and sizes, ranging from plushly batted comfort thrones to minimalist sculptural feats. Accent chairs are often deplyed in pairs, but oftentimes all a room requires is one to make an arresting impact.

Lead photo by John Merkl

June 22, 2019

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