How To

Armchair Buying Guide - Must-Know Tips

Armchair Buying Guide - Must-Know Tips Image

So much can be done from the comfort of a good armchair – getting lost in the pages of a book, intimate and meaningful conversations with loved ones, enjoying simple pleasures like your favourite food or an incredible glass of wine… these soft, plush and beautiful single-seater chairs are a versatile addition to any home.

Whether you’re already eyeing off a place of pride in your home that’s only suitable for a gorgeous armchair, or this seating style is just crossing your radar, let’s take a closer look with this comprehensive, expert guide to buying an armchair.

What is an armchair?

Kicking things off with the very basics, an armchair is a soft, cushioned, often overstuffed chair that’s large in nature. Unlike an accent chair, comfort is central to the armchair experience. They’re usually found in the living room next to your sofa, and some may be accompanied by an ottoman to rest your feet. There are a tonne of different armchair styles out there, so it’s up to you to work out the approach that appeals to you, serves its purpose, and will strike a nice balance with the other furniture pieces in your space.

A traditional armchair with a coastal twist: our Palermo Armchair & Ottoman.
A traditional armchair with a coastal twist: our Palermo Armchair & Ottoman.

Types of armchair

A traditional armchair with a coastal twist: our Palermo Armchair & Ottoman.
A traditional armchair with a coastal twist: our Palermo Armchair & Ottoman.

Just like their sofa sisters, armchairs come in a wide range of designs that cut very different paths in terms of aesthetic, comfort and practicality. Here are a few of the most common types of armchair that you might like to consider for your home.

Traditional armchair

Traditional armchairs do what it says on the tin – they create a cosy, comfortable space for you to sit with no bells or whistles. These pieces generally have quite a simple, clean structure with a rectangular back, armrests at a 90-degree angle, and straight legs. They’re dependable, timeless, and easy to style with a range of complementary furniture pieces.


Tub armchair

Tub armchairs feature a rounded, sloping back that descends down into softly curved armrests. Where some tub chairs have basic, straight legs, others sit flat on the ground or on a circular pedestal. They’re often labelled as mid century armchairs, as their look fits right in with this aesthetic, reminiscent of 60s design.


Swivel armchair

If you’re looking for ultimate comfort, consider a swivel armchair. Built on a rotating base that allows for a 360-degree swivel, this style of armchair is super inviting, often featuring a much larger seat that you can curl up on with ease. Although they come in an array of designs, they’re often soft and rounded to add to that warm and welcoming feel.


Wingback armchair

Exaggerated yet luxurious, the wingback armchair features a higher back with pronounced ‘wings’ that extend forward from either side. This is often juxtaposed by a more triangular shape that starts wide at the top and narrows toward the bottom. You’ll see these high back armchairs in a range of styles, but the design lends itself particularly well to tufting, velvet or jewel tones.


Chesterfield armchair

Chesterfield style is a staple for seating like sofas, ottomans and armchairs. It features rolled arms, tufting, and quite a heavy frame that sits flat to the ground. Chesterfield armchairs are a tenet of traditional design, and although this design has been adapted many a time, still have that old-school vibe, especially when upholstered in brown leather.

Leather is a practical material choice for your armchair that is easy to care for and gets better with age.
Leather is a practical material choice for your armchair that is easy to care for and gets better with age.

Things to consider when buying an armchair

Leather is a practical material choice for your armchair that is easy to care for and gets better with age.
Leather is a practical material choice for your armchair that is easy to care for and gets better with age.

Now that you’ve had a quick run-down on the armchair basics, you might be feeling a little more assured of this comfortable, chic and versatile furniture item’s place in your home. As you home in on armchair styles, there are a few more things to evaluate that will really establish the tone, look and feel of the room and the piece you end up selecting.

Material

The material you choose for your armchair will have a huge effect on how you use it – so don’t overlook this crucial step. Let’s take a look at some of the most popular armchair materials.


Leather

A leather armchair has gravitas, announcing itself as the centrepiece of the room as soon as someone steps inside. From an aesthetic standpoint, leather looks luxe and chic, and melds well with a mid century, contemporary, or even traditional approach. With a range of tones on offer, brown has a more rustic feel, whereas black is clean and consistent. Practically, leather armchairs are easy to wipe down, and can be cared for using leather wipes or treatment spray. But, they’re not always a go-to in warm climates or for those without air conditioning… no one wants to emerge from relaxing sweaty and sticky!


Fabric

Armchairs made out of a fabric like cotton or linen are not only beautiful, but ultra-practical. Fabric armchairs are soft to the touch, which will undoubtedly improve your lounging experience, and they won’t trap heat like leather or velvet, which is great for coping in warmer weather. In terms of cleaning, they require a little more care, as stains or marks can’t be wiped off – instead, depending on your product of choice, you may be able to invest in armchair covers that can be swapped out and washed as necessary.

Eye-catching velvet seen on our Imogen Armchair.
Eye-catching velvet seen on our Imogen Armchair.

Velvet

Eye-catching velvet seen on our Imogen Armchair.
Eye-catching velvet seen on our Imogen Armchair.
Super plush, eye-catching, and a little bit fancy, velvet armchairs look good and feel even better. This fabric is a perfect go-to if you want to inject some flair into your space, or to make a statement that stands out against your other furniture pieces. While it’s not difficult to spot clean, velvet also needs to be vacuumed regularly, as the close, short bristles trap dust easily. Add a velvet armchair to your space to instantly give it a mid century modern or new Art Deco edge.

Rattan

Of course, armchairs don’t have to be upholstered – although they may fall more under the category of ‘accent chair’, there are a number of styles that rely heavily on comfortable wooden materials such as jute, wicker or rattan. A rattan armchair is an amazing way to add a little coastal chic to your living room, amping up that natural, earthen style. Just be sure to adorn your rattan or wooden piece with enough throw pillows to keep things cosy for anyone who prefers not to sit directly on the weaving, which can definitely leave its mark!

Almond spice is a perfect colour that can almost act as a neutral… the best of both worlds!
Almond spice is a perfect colour that can almost act as a neutral… the best of both worlds!

Colour

Almond spice is a perfect colour that can almost act as a neutral… the best of both worlds!
Almond spice is a perfect colour that can almost act as a neutral… the best of both worlds!

Just like when you’re selecting a sofa, bedspread, kitchen tiles or any other facet of your home, colour is a huge consideration that can make or break your vision. Carefully select a colour for your new armchair that fits in with the rest of the items in the space, or makes a deliberate statement, eased into the room through the use of accents and decor. Here are a few of our top armchair colour palette picks.

Achromatic

An achromatic – AKA black, white and grey – colour scheme is classic, and can seamlessly fit in with any number of styles. A white armchair will appear soft and serene, whereas a black one will create a structured and sleek look. A grey armchair strikes a modern balance between the two. Consider one of these hues if you want your armchair to blend in well with your existing decor and offer a comfy spot that’s not the centre of attention.


Neutral

Neutral tones are trending right now, as we see homes decorated in an abundance of browns, tans, creams and beiges. Selecting a colour along these lines will bring a natural feel into your living room, and establish the armchair as a comfortable spot to unwind and chill out. Where a deeper brown shade might pair well with a modern contemporary or mid century aesthetic, lighter tones slide right into a coastal colour palette.


Jewel tones

For the braver and bolder among us, consider jewel tones like emerald green, blue, purple, burgundy and mustard. Paired with deep yet neutral hues, an armchair in one of these colours will draw the eye and really pop as a centrepiece of the room. While these shades all fall into the same palette, they’ll give off different vibes, especially where styling varies – for instance, a green armchair might be bold yet tranquil, whereas a mustard one is a little louder and more unique.


Pastels

Finally, for a soft and sweet approach, a lighter pastel colour might just do the trick. Think dusty blue, mint, lavender and pink. The perfect addition to a home with more traditional stylings, an armchair in one of these shades will draw attention upon first glance, but won’t disrupt the flow or flair of the room by standing out too much. Try a pink armchair as an accent in an otherwise-neutral Scandinavian home, or complement a Hamptons or French provincial aesthetic with a worn baby blue shade.

Have more space on your hands? Try a modular sofa.
Have more space on your hands? Try a modular sofa.

Armchair alternatives

Have more space on your hands? Try a modular sofa.
Have more space on your hands? Try a modular sofa.

Of course, a traditional armchair isn’t for everyone, nor does it fit with every household’s style or needs. There are a number of options that serve the same or similar purpose to an armchair that might be worth exploring.

Modular sofa pieces present a great alternative to a regular armchair if you’re trying to find something that ties in inherently with your choice of couch. Separate yet still part of the set, they look gorgeous and offer all the same comforts of an armchair, perhaps even with some more space to stretch out.

Recliner armchairs are for those who make relaxing a priority. Cosy, comfy and engineered to suit your needs, simply sit back (however far back you’d like to go…) by controlling the chair’s incline using the electric mechanism.

How to style an armchair

Have you picked your perfect armchair yet? When you’re ready to go, all there’s left to do is get styling. While this part of the process is totally up to you and your individual tastes, here are a few hints to get you started.

When styling your new armchair, think purpose first. It’s likely you already have a sofa in the space if you’re putting your new piece in the living room, so you’ll want to offset your larger seating by placing the armchair to either side, perhaps at a 45 or 90-degree angle. Make sure you can still do all of the things you want to do in the space, like watch the television, communicate with others comfortably, and walk around with ease.

If the TV isn’t the centrepiece of your room, you might like to use the armchair to create a separate seating nook by a window, bookshelf, or side table. This will add secondary focus to the room and give it layers and dimension. Always try to place a surface near any seating to keep things convenient – after all, there’s nothing worse than not having a place to rest your cup of tea, glass of wine, book or remote! Add a table lamp for some illumination, and think about small decor choices like decorative coasters, candles and vases.

Armchairs are a beautiful addition to any home, establishing warmth, comfort, and a cosy place to sit and revel in those little day-to-day pleasures. Shop our range of armchairs, including leather and velvet options, and both timeless favourites and the latest on-trend pieces.


Shop our armchair edit:

  1. Dame Swivel Accent Chair
  2. Lennox Leather Armchair
  3. Seta Chaise Lounge
  4. Palermo Armchair and Ottoman Set
  5. Imogen Armchair
  6. Ada Swivel Accent Chair
  7. Mila Armchair
  8. Bailey Armchair