How to Choose an Accent Chair
An accent chair is seating that makes a statement. The shape, upholstery, and base of an accent chair can all help you establish a room’s theme and express your personality. Use this guide to consider what you want your accent chair to bring to your space.
Match Form to Function
Your accent chair’s shape will have a big impact on its level of comfort, so consider your seating situation, who will be sitting in the chair and for how long.
A chic outline, like you’d find with a butterfly or Wishbone chair, is perfect for adding a unique silhouette. But for easy lounging and long conversations, think high-back chairs, deep seats, and soft filling. A densely padded barrel, tub, or club chair, for example, would be most ideal for relaxing.
Echo Your Other Decor
When searching for the right accent chair, take the forms of your furniture and decor into account. A room that’s super streamlined might call for an accent chair with an organic, flowing shape to keep things from feeling too stark. For instance, a sweeping wingback chair can bring graceful curves to a hard, masculine interior.
On the other hand, a bolder, sharper frame in metallics, like you’d see in a contemporary accent chair, can modernize the look and feel of a softer space. If you want to reinforce your current aesthetic, stick to a chair that plays up the existing angles in your furniture and decor.
Complement Your Color Scheme
To choose a color for your accent chair, decide whether your space could use a dynamic burst of energy or some calming hues. You can also pull together a color palette by matching your chair to details in artwork, throw pillows, a rug, or other decor. As one of the bigger pieces of furniture you’ll own, an accent chair will help establish the color scheme.
When you choose an accent chair in greys, whites, browns, or blacks, you can rely on a raw texture or surprising shape to keep things fresh. Sticking to solid, neutral fabrics makes it easier to mix your accent chair between spaces.
If you’re placing your accent chair in front of a jewel-toned wall or dramatic wallpaper, you’ll want a chair in a muted color, so your design elements won’t compete. However, blush or navy are shades subtle enough to blend with most color schemes while still adding some vibrancy.
Be Purposeful With Pattern
When you’re deciding on a pattern for your accent chair, again, take visual inventory. Will a cheeky pattern perk things up or create chaos when placed next to your other graphic pieces? A gorgeous damask or floral print, for example, can enliven a monochrome or neutral space, but look busy in a room already laden with a patterned sofa or bedding.
Patterns shouldn’t fight each other, so if you’re wanting to include multiple patterns or prints in the same space, vary the scale. Check out our guide to Mixing Patterns for more tips. Toss a neutral throw over a boldly-patterned chair to pare down the design or start with chairs that have great shapes and reupholster the fabrics as they begin to wear or your tastes change.
Aim for Balance
The size of accent chair you choose should be determined by what you want the chair to accomplish. If it’s purely a decorative hall accent, opt for something simple and slender. Dining chairs can come in handy here. The lightweight Windsor, for example, is really the anywhere chair —throw it in a kitchen corner or next to a credenza or fireplace. It’s adds functionality to a stylized vignette.
If your chairs will be placed at the heads of the dinner table or in cozy living room as extra seating, you’ll need chairs with more substance. An accent chair should always have enough heft to hold its own, but not so much that it overpowers your space or dwarfs your other pieces of furniture. As long as your seating matches the room’s overall style, you can play with dimension.
Lean Into Your Layout
Start by determining your layout of the space, then you can decide how many accent chairs you’ll need. Confine seating to blocks to create conversation and allow for easy movement around the space. There should be at least 18 inches of walkway between your chair and your other furniture, whether that’s a bench, end table, coffee table, or stool.
You don’t want your sofa to sit too much higher than your accent chair. Ideally, all your seating will be level for the best visual and conversational flow. From floor to cushion, your accent chair’s height should be within 4 inches of your other seating.
Match the Style to Your Surroundings
For style cues, look to the raw elements of your decor, like the bases of your lamps or the frames of your mirrors. Are they simple or ornately detailed? Are your decor pieces and wall art whimsical or refined? These features can help you choose between a dramatic or casual accent chair.
An accent chair with scrolled arms and clawed feet, for example, would suit a rich traditional interior, while nail heads and cow print would blend seamlessly with downhome rustic or farmhouse designs. A home that takes itself seriously might pull in a French Bergere chair for classic, quilted upholstery that inspires White House elegance. A swing chair would better complement playful decor.
Choose a Sustainable Fabric
When choosing a fabric for your accent chair, consider longevity. Certain types of upholstery are more resistant to spills, tears, and pet hair. In a traditional or glam-styled home where foot traffic is low, you can get away with a luxe linen or velvet chair. But for bustling family rooms where a chair is more vulnerable to damage, a durable microfiber or leather will be easiest to clean.
Do Accent Chairs Have to Match?
If you have room for more than one accent chair, there’s a few ways to coordinate them effectively. Cohesive elements like size, style, or the shape and material of the chairs’ legs, will keep things looking curated.
Be consistent when combining different types of fabrics. Playing within organic materials, like leather, velvet, linen, and wood, will ensure your accent chairs look natural next to each other, and add warmth to the space. The same applies when you’re pairing an accent chair with your sofa’s upholstery.