Whether for dining, work or lounging, there are countless types of chairs to choose from. It is a home furniture necessity and one of the easiest items to swap out and freshen up your space: The chair.
Many current popular seating designs have historic roots and furthermore are actually a modern twist on a heritage piece. Others are modern inventions, but they are still iconic pieces that can grace any home.
You can choose one type of seat or several to make your space look great.
Types of Chairs for Every Room
Your home will need chairs in essentially every room. Each space needs a chair or chairs for different reasons and different styles of seating will work best.
That said, the chairs you choose have to fit your lifestyle as well as the interior design style of your home.
Living Room Chair
Chairs in the living room are primarily about looks and then about comfort. This space tends to be more formal and the chairs have to match the vibe. Types that are not too casual are wonderful choices for a living room.
Accent chairs work well mixed with the furniture in living rooms.
Family Room Chairs
These are similar to living room chairs but the focus is on ease and comfort. An easy chair, armchair, and lounge chair are all examples of comfortable chairs for a family room.
This is the place you’ll want to add an ottoman or two. The seating in a family room should obviously be family-friendly too, made with textiles that are easy to clean.
You might think that kitchen chairs are just like dining chairs in general, but actually, they are a little different.
Kitchen chairs need to be a little sturdier and hard-wearing than those you would add to a dining room. Typically, they are either an all-wood or plastic model or are upholstered in easy-care fabrics.
Dining Room Chairs
These are chairs that typically have more style and possibly more formality. They are meant for entertaining and so are often cushioned, comfortable chairs. That said, you still want the dining chair to be comfortable enough to encourage guests to linger. You can get versions with arms to use at the ends of the table and those without arms to use as side chairs.
The main reason to have a chair in the bedroom is for a place to sit down and put on socks and shoes, or other clothing. Also, many people are opting for a seating area in the bedroom for relaxing or reading, so bedroom chairs should be quite comfortable. The bedroom is also a great place to add a chaise lounge.
The Most Popular Types of Chairs
One of the most common types of chairs in the home is the armchair. They are really versatile — and comfortable – because they have armrests. These can be casual or formal chairs for lounging in the living room, not to mention that they can also be desk chairs and dining room chairs.
Some styles of armchairs can be used at a dining table, while others are clearly meant for the living room or family room. Those types of seating tend to be upholstered and well-cushioned. For wooden armchairs, it’s preferable to add a seat cushion.
Another style of armchair is a bergère chair. This seat is a French armchair with an upholstered back and armrests. The difference is that the wood chair frame is also upholstered. A bergère chair is meant for comfortable lounging so it has a deeper, wider seat. There are many modern versions of a bergère chair available that go well with contemporary interiors.
Chaise Longue (Chaise Lounge)
Undoubtedly one of the most mispronounced chairs, the term chaise longue is French for “long chair.” Many American’s mistakenly call it a chaise lounge, because it is indeed used for lounging. In any case, it’s a fabulous lounge chair.
This brown leather chaise is quite masculine and has a modern shape.Any chair that has a long seat where a person can put their feet up falls into this category.
The modern chaise lounge became popular in 16th century France. In fact, this kind of seating was made so that rich people could rest without going to bed.
Day beds and fainting couches are similarly designed pieces of furniture. These types of chairs can be used for seating in a living area as well as a bedroom.
Originally. the wingback chair was conceived to be used in front of a fireplace but now is a classic design for living room chairs. Designers created the “wings” on the sides of the chair, which can be of varying lengths and sizes. They were meant to protect the head from drafts and help hold in the heat from the fire before the chair.
There used to be two main styles of a wingback chair — flat and scroll. However, now there are all sorts, from long and pointy to large and butterfly-like. This seat design makes it a comfortable chair to sit in and an excellent reading chair. In general, wingback chairs can fit in any style of interior decor, depending on the upholstery material and specific chair design details.
It used to be that chairs for dining and tables were sold in a set or had to match. However, current decor styles have made mixing colors, upholstery and shapes of seating very popular. In general, mixing and matching furniture is now the norm. This is fabulous because you can pair an existing table a new style of new dining chair.
The only real requirement for dining room chairs is that the seats are high enough for people to eat comfortably. After that, the dining room chair options are nearly limitless. Of course, you usually don’t want armchairs as side chairs because they take up a lot of space around the dining room table.
Chesterfield chairs have a long history and are identifiable by their buttoned and tufted upholstery. Typically, Chesterfield chairs look more like a club chair, but can also have more of an armchair or wing chair style.
While you can find some covered in fabric, a Chesterfield chair is typically covered in leather. These are also a classic choice for living room chairs as well as for a good reading chair.
According to the London Gallery, historians believe that the 4th Earl of Chesterfield (1694-1773) commissioned such a seat with its distinctive deep buttoned, quilted leather upholstery. This look is counted among classic pieces of furniture.
Club chairs have their name because this was typically the shape of a chair used in the popular gentleman’s clubs of 1850’s London.
This type of upholstered chair is known for its low back and heavy sides that form armrests. While it was often done in leather, you can also find textile versions of the club chair. The arms and back are usually the same height and make a very comfortable chair to sit in.
Newer versions are modern and more like a contemporary round chair. Moreover, these are a great seat style to put near the coffee table across from the sofa. Or, you can pair a club chair with an ottoman.
Today’s designers have come up with all sorts of variations on this particular style of furniture. It’s often used as a lounge chair too.
Slipper chairs were popular in the 19th century owing to the fact that their low seat made it easy for women to put on shoes, stockings and other garments of that era. This particular style has no arms in order to make it convenient to sit.
Designer John Henry Belter, a German immigrant, earned a number of patents from his work on this chair. These include a new kind of jigsaw and a way to bend laminated wood.
Designer Charles Eames later used that particular technique to create some of his own iconic chairs, for example. The furniture style of the slipper chair is Rococo. It was popular at that time thanks to America’s fascination with all things French and this seat still makes a great accent chair.
Meant for anglers trying to bring in a large fish, true fighting chairs have naturally become a bit more like recliners or cushy office chairs.
Modern designers, however, are using the original design — a slatted back — as the starting point for fanciful chair creations. The unusual design of these types of chairs makes them perfect for accent chairs. Depending on the specific design, you might actually be able to use hybrid versions as desk chairs.
Although it is essentially an upholstered easy chair, the Cogswell chair has a distinctive furniture silhouette. It has a sloping back, armrests that are open underneath, and cabriole front legs.
Many iterations of these chairs are available, from vintage overstuffed versions to modern chrome and leather designs. They are an especially comfortable chair and perfect for living rooms, offices and dens. Cogswell chairs are also nice to place by coffee tables.
Eames Lounge Chair
A classic piece that combines comfort, natural style and modern design, the Eames Lounge Chair has been in high demand since its debut in 1956 on the Arlene Francis Show, the predecessor to NBC’s Today Show.
Charles and Ray Eames set out to design a chair with “the warm, receptive look of a well-used first baseman’s mitt.” They did it by combining soft, inviting leather, with a sleek molded wood form. they applied the same technique to the ottoman.
They also used the molded plywood technology they pioneered in the 1940s. Its sensuous curves and leather cushions make up a lounge chair that is the epitome of comfort.
The new-to-the-market molded plywood made the structure of this iconic chair unique.
The label “easy chair” encompasses a huge number of styles and looks. Generally, most reference books agree that the definition is “A chair adapted for sitting or half reclining in in an easy posture, often furnished with arms and padded back.”
Mention “easy chair” and most people will imagine something large and well padded. Many of these chairs are done in leather to make them durable and comfortable. This type of lounge chair is perfect for curling up in to read or relax.
These days, motion recliners are also included in this category. Moreover, it’s a good style of chair to put with an ottoman.
While not technically a gaming chair, easy chairs are so comfortable that you can use one for this purpose. That said, many gaming chairs look a bit more like a floor-based chaise lounge.
Your Father’s Easy Chair
This leather easy chair has a classic, conservative shape and upholstery style.
Originally designed for women in the late 16th century, the Farthingale chair is a type of chair that is armless with a wide seat, cushioned and upholstered.
The backrest might have been upholstered but the chair legs are generally straight and rectangular.
Why designed for women? Hooped skirts were popular at the time and its armless design and wider seat were able to accommodate this fashion.
Low Seat Styles
The Fiddleback Chair
This all-wood chair style comes from the Empire period, an early-nineteenth-century design movement generally between 1800 and 1815 during the Consulate and the First French Empire periods.
The chairs usually have an upholstered seat and the distinctive splat — the middle section of the seatback — that has carving resembling a fiddle.
Fiddleback chairs have remained popular through the decades, with the distinctive splat being incorporated in a variety of other styles.
People sometimes use these as desk chairs or for a dining chair or side chair.
It came straight out of Hollywood: The director’s chair folds up side-to-side, making it easy to move around the set. The frame is typically wood or metal and the seat and back are leather or fabric, which acts like a sling.
According to Showfire Displays, the folding chair design surprisingly has roots in the 1400s when these chairs were used by coffer-makers.
Some even link these folding chairs to the Roman curule chair from thousands of years ago. Regardless, its convenience and now classic style have helped it maintain popularity. This is one chair that is super simple to re-cover in new fabric.
While not as common, some people like to use these as a desk chair too. That said, it’s definitely not an executive chair or standard piece of office furniture. Also, a taller version of director’s chairs makes a great substitute for a bar stool or for dining chairs.
Iconic Egg Chair
Designed by Danish architect Arne Jacobsen in 1958, the Egg Chair is one of the most recognizable and popular pieces from the 1950’s. It has become an icon of Scandinavian design.
Inside the upholstered chair, a piece of molded plastic creates its curves. The swivel base of the chair lets the person turn for a conversation or tilt backward for lounging.
A rainbow of colors makes this a fun and sophisticated mid-century modern addition to any space. Jacobsen designed the fabric-upholstered, curvy Egg chair for the Royal Hotel in Copenhagen. But, ever since it was installed, it has been just as popular for sitting in homes as well as hotels and businesses. It makes a fabulous accent chair and is unique among swivel chairs.
The versatile wooden ladder back chair has quite a long history that is still going strong. As popular now as it ever was, sources say it originated in the Middle Ages in Europe, according to LovetoKnow.
Later, early Protestants valued its plain style so they brought it to the United States where it gained in popularity because it was quick and easy to make.
Quakers used it in their meeting houses, and you could see them hung on the walls. Subsequently, the rise of the Victorian age and upholstered furniture pushed the ladder back chair into kitchens and less prominent spaces. It is still a popular dining chair design. Also, in a pinch, these can be used as desk chairs.
Clean, Classic Form
Some ladder back chairs have arms and some don’t.
These chairs are typically described by the number of rails in the chair: a ‘five-back’ or a ‘three-back,’ for example. The width grows with the height of the chair back.
Starck’s Louis Ghost Chair
In the design world, it can take decades for a piece to become iconic: Not so for Philippe Starck’s Louis Ghost chair. In little more than a decade, it become a design staple, with more than 1.5 million sold.
Originally designed for the Kong Restaurant in Paris in 2002, Starck’s chair is special in so many ways.
Why call it this? First, the innovative design manages to mimic the statelier pieces of the neoclassic Louis XVI period in the sleek, modern form of a plastic chair. In fact, some modern home office designs use this as a desk chair.
Second, As The New York Times reported, “It makes Louis XV modern; it stacks to save storage space, and it sells for $198.” Even though the paper got the price wrong, they nailed the reasons for the chair’s appeal, especially as a dining chair. People also choose them for office chairs.
Classic Panton Chair
A one-piece plastic classic, the Panton chair was a groundbreaking design from 1960. Produced in collaboration with Vitra, it was the first high-end brand chair to be manufactured completely out of molded plastic.
Easy Care Staple
Beginning in 1999, Vitra started producing these plastic chairs faithfully to their original concept out of durable, dyed-through plastic with a lustrous matte finish.
This chair comes in a rainbow of colors and has a comfortable, cantilevered design. Consequently, that makes it one of the more popular mid-century modern chairs being produced today.
It makes a great kitchen chair but can also be used as an office chair if you don’t need armrests or a real ergonomic chair.
Rocking Chair Varieties
Soothing to babies, old folks and everyone in between, rocking chairs are a front-porch fixture that is without a doubt an American ideal.
They might be most popular in this country, but rocking chairs did not originate here. Some sources made unsubstantiated claims that Benjamin Franklin invented the rocking chair.
Most agree, however, that these chairs came about in the 18th century — probably in Europe — when skates or rockers were added to chair legs to rick them back and forth.
A rocking chair is typically a wooden chair, with or without arms, that sits atop curved rockers. Clearly, today’s rocking chairs have taken on many different looks, from a modern metal glider chair to upholstered easy chairs that rock.
There are even some styles that are not only a rocking chair but also a swivel chair.
The newest types called glider chairs sit on a base that does not move, but the suspended chair does go back and forth. A glider chair is easier on the pets and toes that can get pinched by a traditional rocking chair!
Saarinen’s Famous Tulip Chair
Few designers produce furniture pieces that will enjoy more than half a century of popularity — but Eero Saarinen did. His 1956 Tulip chair (and table) is a classic of industrial design and therefore a sought-after iconic piece for homes and offices.
Today we call it retro, but when he designed it, the chair was futuristic.
The one-legged Tulip chair was Saarinen’s attempt to clean up our living spaces: “The undercarriage of chairs and tables in a typical interior makes an ugly, confusing, unrestful world. I wanted to clear up the slum of legs. I wanted to make the chair all one thing again,” he is quoted as saying, according to the Museum of Modern Art.
Designers and homeowners alike love this one because it doesn’t have all those legs, plus it’s also a swivel chair.
Classic Windsor Chair
Many people consider this wooden piece a kitchen chair classic, clearly perfect for the less formal space.
The silhouette of the Windsor Chair usually features vertical wood poles that form the seatback.
This chair silhouette sometimes has rounded poles but on the other hand, it can also have squared-off poles. A shaped crested rail generally tops them off.
The legs slope outward and have crossbars for stability. The seats are not upholstered but are often shaped for added comfort.
Consequently, these days, many families choose to add chair pads. Regardless, it is the quintessential dining chair in many homes and can be desk chairs too.
Dutch designer and architect Gerrit Rietveld invented the Zig Zag chair in the early 1930s. Actually, according to the Financial Times, Rietveld said it was a designer joke.
He was playing around to see if he could make a chair from four flat pieces and unfortunately, most versions — including metal and plywood — initially failed.
His cherrywood version that has dovetail joints nevertheless became a design classic. It is also a comfortable and durable seat.
The Zig Zag chair looks like it defies gravity and is remarkably a sturdy seat for sitting. Obviously, these are just a fraction of the types of chairs that are available for homes and offices of all styles.
Frequently Asked Questions (FAQ)FAQ
What type of chair is most comfortable?
This all depends on what kind of chair you are looking for. If you’re searching for the most comfortable office chair, you want something ergonomic that suits your work style. On the other hand, if you’re looking for an armchair for the living room or family room, you have other considerations.
Obviously, you want a chair that is stylish, but it also needs to be welcoming. Choose something that you can easily settle into to read, watch TV or just relax, The specific type depends on personal preference.
What is an accent chair used for?
An accent chair is typically different from the other chairs in your room. It’s used not only for function but also to add a different visual in a room. Even though the color, shape or pattern may be different, an accent chair still helps pull the room together into a cohesive and interesting interior design.
What is the top of a chair called?
On an armchair, the top part is called a backrest. It may or may not have a headrest too. On dining chairs that are wooden, the back will have a top rail and probably other cross rails. These fit between the two main vertical supports, called stiles.
How do I choose an armchair?
When it comes time to choose an armchair, the most important thing to do is sit in it at the store. It should feel comfortable and you should be able to easily get up from the chair. Your feet should rest comfortably on the floor and your arms on the armrests.
Next, it has to fit your space not only in style but also in color, scale and proportion. It’s critical to consider the other seating in a room, such as the sofa and any other chairs.
What makes a comfortable armchair?
A comfortable armchair should feel soft yet supportive and let you get up easily. When you sit, your thighs should be perpendicular to the floor. Actually, most chair sets are about 18 inches off the ground, but you can find ones that are higher or lower.
It should also be deep enough to support your legs but allow you to rest against the back. An armchair should also be wide enough to suit your personal preference.
What are the most iconic chairs of all time?
Some of the most iconic chairs of all time are listed above, such as the Eames Lounge Chair, Panton Chair, Tulip Chair, and Egg chair. Chairs like these become iconic not just because of their popularity. It’s also because there’s something special groundbreaking or revolutionary about the design silhouette.
But there are other iconic designs that you should also take note of. These include Ludwig Mies van der Rohe’s Barcelona chair, Warren Platner’s Arm Chair, Le Corbusier’s Grand Confort chair, the Thonet 209, Marcel Breuer’s B32/Cesca and Eileen Gray’s Transat.
Indeed, it’s a good idea to look at images and find the chairs you like before going shopping. This will narrow down the search and thus keep it from becoming overwhelming.
Whether your tastes run to modern or traditional chair, there is a wide variety of options for any space. This is especially true when it comes to an accent chair or even an ottoman.
Whatever you choose should not only look good but also be comfortable for sitting and serve its main function well.