A Buyer's Guide
- Know the basic easy chair styles, and choose the one that fits
your personality. Popular options include overstuffed –
a full, comfy look achieved by covering the frame with generous
fill or stuffing; exposed frame – an elegant style in which
parts of the frame are exposed, such as the legs, arms, or back;
and tight back – a sleek, more formal design that features
a firm, tautly upholstered back.
- Look for a chair that pairs well with the furniture you already
have. It’s perfectly acceptable to mix and match –
just seek out a chair with a style that compliments your existing
furnishings. Use fabric or color samples to find upholstery styles
that work well together, and look for a chair with proportions
that are similar to other chairs or sofas in the same room. Select
a chair with classic lines, which will blend in easily with any
design scheme – formal or casual, country or contemporary.
- Choose a sizable chair to give a room dramatic focus. An oversized
chair will add character and visual interest to a space that’s
grand or small. In fact, choosing a few large-scale furnishings
– rather than several diminutive chairs and tables –
will actually make a small room seem bigger.
- Have a seat. Test out a few chairs, and learn to recognize the
features that make them feel comfortable to you. Is the padding
too hard, too soft, or just right? Also, consider how well the
chair fits your particular build, choosing a higher seat if you
are long-legged, for example. The height of the arms, the pitch
of the back, and the support under your knees should feel right
for your body.
- Look for a chair with a solid structure. The best chairs have
frames that are made of kiln-dried hardwood, and that are joined
with firm dowels (metal, plastic or wooden pins often used for
support on chairs), or with a combination of glue, staples, and/or
corner blocks. A frame made with glue or staples alone will not
prove stable in the long run.
- Touch. The chair’s upholstery should feel good to you,
and it should also be durable. Leather, woven wool, tapestry,
and upholstery-weight velvet are proven to be wearable.
Sometimes you simply need more chair. That’s why furniture
makers developed an oversized alternative: the chair-and-a-half.
It’s wider than a standard easy chair, but not quite as wide
as a love seat. A generous seat for one, the chair-and-a-half is
also a fun, cozy fit for two.
The Indispensable Ottoman
If ever you considered the ottoman inconsequential, think again.
This relatively small piece of furniture comes in handy in a variety
of ways. Designers love them because they don’t take up visual
space, yet they are hardworking in their own right.
Placed in front of an easy chair, an ottoman naturally assumes
its role as a footrest – a simple luxury for tired feet. Yet,
where a coffee table is absent, the ottoman rises to the occasion.
Books or magazines sit well here, and a tray is all that is needed
to lend a stable, protective surface for glasses and plates. And
when you’re one chair short, you can clear off the ottoman
to make use of it as a low, comfortable seat. Many ottomans are
small enough to carry easily from one room to the next.
Keep these tips in mind when you are in the market for an ottoman.
- Feel free to mix and match, especially if you
are going to use the ottoman on its own. A chair-and-ottoman is
always handsome, but an ottoman need not be identical to the surrounding
furniture in style or upholstery. Matched sets are usually more
formal, while unmatched pieces set a more casual tone. Just choose
styles and coverings that are compatible and coordinate well together.
- Think about how you are going to use the ottoman.
If you want one that doubles as a coffee table, choose an ottoman
covered in a material that is easy to care for, such as leather.
- Avoid pure white or cream-colored upholstery for ottomans.
You don’t want to be too precious about furniture that often
functions as a footrest. If you forget to remove your shoes, it
won’t matter as much on a darker-hued ottoman.