Accent chairs are often a central part of a living space. They are both functional and aesthetic, standalone pieces that aim to liven up a room, and simultaneously stand out and flow with the room’s décor. Choosing the right accent chair for your space is vital, as you run the risk of cluttering up a room or ruining its aesthetic if making random choices.
Below, we offer some expert tips to help you decide on the best options to make your accent chair and living space unique, lively, and exciting. From deciding on the size and style, to the materials you can use, this guide answers every question you may have about purchasing an accent chair.
How do I determine the size of my accent chair?
Knowing exactly how wide and tall you want the accent chair will allow you to determine the placement, as it will give you a rough idea of how much space you need to work with. It will also help you decide on a style later down the line, as some styles are better suited to large or smaller sizes.
- The average floor to seat height falls in the range of 30” to 40” but may reach up to 50” for taller people.
- For a chair with armrests, the arm height is usually about 10” inches less than the floor to seat height to ensure maximum comfort - i.e. if the floor to seat height is 36”, the armrests should be about 26” in height. The majority of accent chairs comes pre-measured, meaning that you do not have to worry about matching the size of your chair to the size of its armrests!
- The depth of your accent chair will mostly depend on how you would like to use it - an average armchair is about 35” deep, but if you plan on having a chair you can comfortably curl up in, consider depths of 45” and up.
How do I choose the placement of my accent chair?
This should be the first thing you consider once you have determined what size your accent chair should be. The chair should make the room more inviting and cozier, without cluttering it up or making the space difficult to navigate.
- Look for an empty space within the room that you can fill up with the chair - a corner or an area next to a window would be best.
- Avoid placing the chair near the door - this will probably impede your ability to open the door, or may result in the chair being completely hidden from view when the door is opened
- Plan for a clearance space of about 30” on at least two sides of the chair to ensure easy access
What color should my accent chair be?
Your accent chair will be the central point of your room, so deciding on a color that works well with the rest of the room is crucial. Some people opt to match their accent chair to the colors in the room, while others prefer a different, yet still complementary color for their chair.
- If you want the chair to blend in seamlessly with the existing color scheme of the room, choose something neutral like different shades of white, black, or brown.
- If you want the chair to stand out and be the immediate focal point of the room, go for a color that does not appear in the room often, or a color that directly complements the main color scheme. Examples of complementary colors include red and green, yellow and purple, and blue and orange.
- Regardless of how neutral or bright the color of the accent chair will be, it will look best if the color also appears in at least 1-2 other places in the room (e.g. a set of pillows, a rug, or even an accent wall) so that the chair is not a complete anomaly.
- If the room is relatively muted or monochromatic, go for an eye-catching pattern or bright color to liven it up a bit.
- If the room is full of different patterns, opt for a more simple, plain piece to avoid clashing with other aspects of the room.
What is the best material for an accent chair?
Alongside the color, the material is an incredibly important aspect that you need to consider before purchasing an accent chair. Apart from the general look and feel of different materials, you will also need to consider how easy different materials are to keep clean - nobody wants a chair that stains easily!
Some of the most common upholstery materials include:
Cotton is one of the most popular fabrics due to its softness and durability. It can be very versatile, with an incredibly wide range of color and pattern options available. However, it is not the easiest to clean when stained due to its high absorbency, so consider choosing darker colors when using cotton.
With its crisp finish and subtle sheen, this fabric is often used in more ‘glamorous’ furnishings. It is a quite delicate material that can crease, stain, and even rip easily, so avoid using it if you live in a home with small children or animals.
Real leather is often considered a luxurious upholstery material, due to its high-quality feel, the skills needed to prepare it, and its often high price. Unlike other upholstery materials, leather improves in quality as it ages, ensuring your accent chair will last for years. It is also quite easy to keep clean as it will not absorb any liquids. However, many people choose to not use real leather anymore due to ethical reasons and instead opt for faux leather.
Otherwise known as synthetic or vegan leather, this is a man-made material. It exists to give the look and feel of real leather at a lower cost while staying ethical. Like real leather, this material is the best option for those living with small children prone to spillages, or pets with muddy paws.
Velvet is quite durable and strong, making it the perfect material for upholstering furniture. It provides a very luxurious look for a relatively low price point but is quite prone to collecting dust, so consider investing in professional cleaning products to prevent this.
What style should my accent chair be?
When choosing the style of your accent chair, you will need to consider what the overall aesthetic of your home is, and how you want the char to fit into it. Deciding on a style usually helps to determine exactly what type of chair you will need. Many styles are relatively universal, while others are incredibly specific, and only really work well with matching décor.
Taking inspiration from design elements found in the modernist movement of the late 1800s, the modern style tends to be minimalistic and streamlined. Existing mainly for function rather than fashion, these chairs are comfortable without being unnecessarily oversized or eccentric. They usually come in neutral, subdued colors, without patterns.
This style borrows some elements from the modern style and turns them into something eye-catching with bold colors and patterns. These chairs are often minimalistic in their structural design, with a pop of color or an exciting pattern to add variation.
Also known as traditional, this style tends to be quite cozy and welcoming. The chairs often use real wood for the legs and arms, with a relatively muted color scheme or a detailed pattern on the upholstery. Think middle to upper-class Victorian home and you have yourself a classic-styled chair!
Also known as the glam style, these chairs are more decorative than functional. They are often much larger than regular accent chairs, with unique shapes as well as color and pattern choices; gold faux leather appears to be a very popular choice amongst glam style lovers.
This is the perfect style of chair for those who prefer a more ‘raw’, authentic feel to their furniture. Often upholstered using real or faux leather, and combined with natural wood, this style of accent chair brings with it a rugged, yet warm and welcoming atmosphere to your home. Many favor this style for its unpretentious and relatively simple look.
What type of accent chair should I buy?
Now that you know what style would best fit your home, it’s time to decide exactly what type of accent chair you need. There is a wide variety of types, with some being more popular and universal than others, so you’re bound to find something to your liking.
Below are some of the more popular types of accent chairs and what décor they best pair with.
A Bergère accent chair is an upholstered armchair, originating from early 18th-century French designs. It has closed sides and exposed wooden framing, often painted gold to achieve a more sophisticated look. This chair focuses on comfort without sacrificing aesthetic, and best fits into a home decorated in a traditional or luxurious style.
This style of accent chair is distinctly recognizable for its rolled arms that are the same height as its back, and its dark leather upholstery with deep button tufting. This relatively simple chair can fit perfectly into any style of décor. For example, it would work well alongside a rustic style, with other ‘raw’ features made from wood and leather.
Most commonly referred to as a chaise lounge, this is a type of long chair that allows support for the legs. This is the ultimate chair for comfort and can match with any style of décor - 18th and 19th century inspired chaise lounges will work best in a more traditionally decorated home, while more simplistic versions, made from cotton or polyester, can be incorporated into contemporary or modern décor.
The Egg chair design is a relatively modern style of accent chair, which uses simple cotton or polyester upholstery. Many Egg chairs feature a swivel bottom, making this an incredibly unique design, and one that is popular among younger generations. This chair will best fit into a home decorated in a modern or contemporary style because of its simplicity.
Papasan chairs are a unique type of chair and will look great in homes decorated in a modern or contemporary style. These pieces consist of a sturdy, bowl-shaped frame and a large cushion that fits inside. The large cushion makes this type of chair incredibly comfortable and relaxing to sit in, making it a great contribution to a more casually themed room, particularly coastal or bohemian styles. Papasan chairs were initially very popular in college dorm rooms, due to their low price, durability and high comfort.
Sculptural chairs are normally much deeper and wider than regular chairs, making them incredible for lounging for long periods. That does mean, however, that you will need much more space to house one of these chairs, and it will definitely be an eye-catching statement piece in your home. Many sculptural chairs exist not only as a seat but also as a decoration, and so will fit best with a luxurious décor.
What should my budget be?
This truly depends on every single factor we’ve listed so far: the varieties in size, style, material, and color all make deciding on an exact budget a little more difficult.
- There are many simple, budget accent chairs available for under $150. This is the best option if you’re short on cash but still want to add a little extra to your living space. Most of these budget models will be relatively smaller than normal, so make sure to check measurements carefully!
- The majority of accent chairs will fall somewhere in the $150 to $500 range. As mentioned above, smaller models are often cheaper, so if you’re looking for a large accent chair, be prepared to pay closer to $500.
- The more extravagant and decorative accent chairs may cost up to $1000, or even $2500 if they are designer pieces.