Have you thought about your chairs lately (as in the actual names of your upholstered seats, and where they’re best suited in the home)? If you’re like most of us, these perches aren’t usually top of mind when it comes to decor. Larger, high-impact items like couches and rugs get all the love.
But we’re here to say that investing a little time and thought into your home’s chairs can transform your rooms and telegraph your style. In fact, chairs are a potent opportunity to inject pizzazz to an otherwise ho-hum space.
Curious about styles of chairs you may have to choose from—or what the chairs already in your home are called? Take a seat, and check out the common chair types below.
This one gets its name from the tall sloping side panels that flank the upper portion of the seat. The wings were originally designed to protect the sitter’s face and neck from cold drafts that pervaded old houses as well as block the heat from fireplaces that warmed homes in the 1700s.
“A wingback is a cozy cocoon of a chair that’s perfect for curling up with a good book,” notes Anna Brockway, co-founder of Chairish.
Put it in a library or reading nook for instant gravitas, though there’s something delightful about a wingback in a bedroom, she adds.
Need some whimsy in your room? Add a fun fabric to your wingback—or try a pattern on one side and a complementary solid on the other.
The slipper chair is named for the soft shoe. Fine ladies in 18th century Europe would sit daintily on this seat and put on their pretty kicks (or their maids would aid them in this task while they sat back and relaxed).
This low-slung beauty is easy to sprawl in and looks at home in a bedroom, walk-in closet, or bathroom, though Brockway also votes for an unconventional spot such as around the dining table.
Are you a club member? If you are, you’ll recognize this shape from a men’s club or the clubhouse of a fancy golf course.
“This chair is French in origin, but there are a few facts to really back the idea that it derived the name from its frequent appearance in clubs,” says Brockway.
You’ll see all kinds of iterations ($195, Target) that have popped up over the years, but many of the details have remained the same: deep seats, sumptuous upholstery (often leather), and big, chunky arms, she adds.
Club chairs work well in dens, home offices, and living rooms.
Here’s another chair from across the pond in France (bergere is French for shepherdess). Elegant and timeless, this seat ($470, Wayfair) can make just about any room look like a million bucks—and the upholstered back, arms, and seat are the perfect canvas for marvelous fabric, including velvet and linen.
“A bergere offers a bit of luxe factor, so try it in the bedroom, office, or living room—and if you opt for the latter, know that there’s nothing posher than bergeres in pairs,” says Brockway.
Antique barrel chairs were actually constructed from barrels, though today’s designs are a bit more plush. Some picks are rustic in nature with leather details and a base that swivels, while other curvy barrel chairs are covered in soft fabric and sport a shiny wooden surround on the back and arms.
A pair of these seats ($900, Pottery Barn) looks smart next to a fireplace or in a sitting room as part of a larger master suite.
Occasional or accent chair
The occasional chair is so named for its special occasion status.
“This one offers both a place to sit, and it makes a design statement,” notes Jamie Novak, an organizing professional and author of “Keep This Toss That.”
This seat can fill an empty corner in a bedroom, large bath, or living room, and then be pulled into service when you need an extra perch.
White wicker, boxy rattan, a peacock chair, a small stool, and even this ladder-back model ($179, Crate & Barrel)—all can work as an occasional chair.
When considering an accent chair for your room, pick a shade or fabric that’ll liven a quiet color palette.
“This seat can be any style, shape, size, or color, and made from any material you choose, so unleash your inner designer and pick something unexpected,” says Novak.
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