There are times when you may seek a more intimate seating arrangement. This is when it's nice to have a comfortable armchair. An armchair provides generous support for a single occupant and can complement the existing seating arrangement. Armchairs often become accent pieces, a pleasing contrast to the neutral tones of the room's other furniture or paint.
While an armchair may not provide the same level of relaxation as a recliner, it still allows individuals to assume more comfortable positions while reading or watching television. The high back and sweeping arms provide users with a sense of security and support.
If you're in the market for a new armchair as either a stand-alone or accent piece, read our buying guide. At the top of our list is Avenue Six Curves Tufted Back Armchair, a traditional model with European design features and a wide variety of upholstery choices.
Armchairs are typically designed for a single occupant, so they don't take up as much real estate as an oversized recliner or loveseat. Some models may be as narrow as 16 inches in width, while others (sometimes called "one-and-a-halfs") can be 24 inches wide or more. A narrower armchair provides additional seating in a small space, while a wider design allows you to sit cross-legged comfortably.
Some doorways are too narrow for a high-backed or extra wide armchair to pass through easily, so the chair may need to be assembled in the room or angled creatively during the move-in process. Measuring all the dimensions of the doorway and the armchair is always a good idea.
The term "armchair" actually refers to a wide variety of accent chairs designed for individual users. One of the oldest styles is known as a "wingback," alluding to the wing-like flare of the chair's back. These wings helped protect users from the heat of an open fireplace or the cold of a drafty room.
Another design became popular in men's clubs during the 1920s and is still known as a "club chair." A club chair is heavily cushioned with luxurious upholstery. It's a popular choice as an accent chair in more formal furniture settings, or by itself in a library or den.
Modern furniture designers have produced numerous variations on the basic armchair profile, so it's possible to find a model that meets specific needs, such as wider arms for holding books or other personal items. Some armchairs have neutral color schemes, while others have bold patterns that provide contrast.
Leather is a popular choice because of its durability and appearance, but it's also one of the more expensive choices around. Faux leather made from vinyl is a more affordable option, but durability is a major consideration, especially if the chair is routinely exposed to sunlight.
Other materials used to upholster armchairs include cotton canvas, linen, and synthetic microfiber. These coverings can be very durable, unless they become scratching posts for pets. Keeping a cloth armchair clean can be challenging, so a protective cover may be a worthwhile investment.
Traditional high-backed armchairs often use decorative metallic tacks to create a more formal appearance, but they also serve a practical purpose by reinforcing upholstery seams. Some modern low- or medium-backed armchairs have pockets or cup holders built into the arms for personal convenience.
A basic modern armchair designed for children can cost as little as $80, while an adult version made with inexpensive upholstery costs up to $300. Designer armchairs using faux leather components retail between $300 and $700, while a high-end full leather model with embellishments can cost as much as $3,000 in premium furniture outlets.
Q. I like to sit cross-legged on my furniture. Will an armchair work for me?
A. It depends on the armchair's basic design. Some models are designed to fit snugly around a person in a normal sitting position, while others are wide enough to accommodate more casual positions. Test several armchairs by sitting in your preferred position at the store.
Q. My living room's overall color scheme is neutral. What shades should I consider when adding an armchair or two?
A. Many armchairs are available in shades of brown or black, but this may be too dark for the rest of the décor. Consider investing in a gray upholstery if you want to stay neutral or look for a bold color or pattern that will work as an "accent" piece.
Our take: While it may not be as comfortable as some others, this accent chair meshes well with practically every furniture color scheme available.
What we like: Features 17 upholstery shades to choose from. Lightweight and compact design. Contemporary appearance.
What we dislike: Construction is sturdy, but not ideal for casual sitting. Screw-in legs are not always stable.
Michael Pollick is a writer for BestReviews. BestReviews is a product review company with a singular mission: to help simplify your purchasing decisions and save you time and money. BestReviews never accepts free products from manufacturers and purchases every product it reviews with its own funds.
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