Chairs are pieces of furniture that typically seat one person at a time, are fully, minimally, or not upholstered, and come in many different designs and materials to fit every kind of space and need. You may wonder what some of the designations mean or in what rooms certain chairs are meant to function beyond seating. Below, we’ll break down the ins and outs of each chair type and what you should consider when choosing which one is best for your space.
01 of 09
Best for: Living spaces, reading nooks, bedroom corners
A wing chair (also known as a wingback chair) is a durable seat with a solid back, short wood legs (typically turned wood), and usually upholstered in fabric or leather. Wingback chairs are distinguished by the side panels or "wings" on the high back, which originally served the purpose of shielding the occupant from drafts in a room, or excessive heat from the fireplaces. A traditional wingback chair can measure over 40 inches from the floor to the top of the back, making it a substantial piece of furniture.
Although the wing chair is a very traditional kind of reading chair, it has been reinterpreted and given a more contemporary flavor by many modern designers. For example, Arne Jacobsen's iconic modern Egg Chair is considered to be a modified wing chair. Today, a wing chair continues to provide a comfortable surface to rest the head for taking naps, lounging, or reading, though the wings may not always be as pronounced as they are on antique versions.Pros
Statement piece with sculptural silhouette
Very comfortable, cocooning, and private
Modern wingbacks come in smaller sizes
Wings make it hard to converse with others
Shape of the chair makes patterned upholstery tough to match
Many look best in formal settings
02 of 09
Best for: Any room of the house as a decorative accent, filler, or extra seating
An occasional chair is just that, a chair that is used occasionally. It is normally an extra chair that is employed when you have guests over. Occasional chairs often end up being accent pieces in a room, selected for their decorative value more than anything else.
Occasional chairs come in every size and shape to fit into any type of decor. Some chairs are petite while others are oversized or dramatic in size and design that act as a conversation or accent piece in a room. An occasional chair can be as simple as a small unupholstered armchair or as trendy as a cocooning bubble chair. You may want to splurge on a designer or an iconic occasional chair, such as Knoll's original Barcelona chair, to add to a room that needs a unique accent or bit of color.Pros
Adds an accent to a room
Not always comfortable
Trendy looks may be costly
03 of 09
Best for: Formal or semi-formal traditional living room or den
A club chair is a durable, thickly upholstered armchair. Its arms and back are lower than other types of chairs and the chair is relatively boxy though sometimes curved. The club chair is also typically upholstered in leather. The term comes from 19th-century England where gentlemen's clubs had this type of chair for relaxing. This type of classic chair is still frequently seen in upscale clubs, bars, and restaurants. The traditional club chair is quite ample in size. Often it is 37 to 39 inches wide (side to side) and 39 to 41 inches deep for superior comfort.
Like many other traditional styles, club chairs have also been updated and resized to fit into smaller interiors (you can often find a classic club chair that measures 27 inches wide and 30 inches deep, for example). A modern club chair is still a design that implies sophistication and may be on the pricy side for well-constructed versions, but it might show a bit more leg and have lower arms, or barely any arms at all. While leather is traditionally the covering of choice, now club chairs come in fabric options to fit into more types of decor. You may like a single elegant club chair or a pair with a table between them in a room to distinguish and anchor the space.Pros
Modern club chairs may recline and rock
Deep seat with exceptional comfort
Brings traditional elegance to a room
Typical leather club chairs are costly
It may not fit in with all decor styles
Takes up a lot of space
04 of 09
Best for: Dining rooms, quick extra seating in any room, guest seating in home office
Typically, dining room chairs are considered side chairs. A side chair is a small chair with a solid, visible frame, an open or solid back, and open arms, or no arms at all. The seat and back may or may not be upholstered. Side chairs are often sold in sets of two, four, six, or more since they are meant to go around a table. For that setting, consider the type of upholstery that will fit your lifestyle. Leather will last for ages with care, but microfiber and other synthetic fabrics will clean up well. If you're handy with a staple gun, you can always reupholster seats and backs because they are typically easy to remove.
Besides use in the dining room, side chairs may add extra seating in a living room or other spaces. They are not bulky like club or wing chairs. Side chairs typically measure from 17 to 20 inches from the floor to the top of the seat, which is not exactly ideal for snuggling up. Consider that if you're aiming for comfort. But if you love antiquing, you will find many types of durable side chairs that you can mix and match with modern decor to create a signature interior look.Pros
Countless design options
Does not take up much space
Easy to mix and match styles
Continue to 5 of 9 below.
Not always so comfortable
Upholstery may wear out quickly
Frames may become wobbly over time
05 of 09
Best for: Living rooms or bedrooms
A slipper chair is always an armless upholstered chair with a high back and short legs that lets it sit closer to the ground. The low height distinguishes the chair, and also makes it a comfortable choice for many who want a comfy spot to sit in a bedroom or living room. A slipper chair comes in many sizes, from petite to slightly oversized to fit the scale of a room. The legs of a slipper chair can be blocky and straight or tapered and splayed for a design element. The back of a slipper chair may be angled back slightly or curved a bit to hug the user.
While originally slipper chairs were used in Victorian ladies' bedrooms for sitting while donning stockings and shoes, they can be found in any room in today's modern home. Pair them opposite a sofa or use one as a single seat where you need a cushiony occasional chair.Pros
It may be tough to get out of the chair
Sits low to the ground
06 of 09
Best for: Family rooms, casual living rooms, dens
A reclining chair is a hefty upholstered chair that reclines back for comfort and is popular for reading and watching media. You can find traditional and stylish versions in leather or fabric. A recliner lets you put your feet up and relax, then stow the footrest when you're done.
Recliners are notorious for being very large, especially when they recline. You'd typically buy a recliner based on the size of the person who will use it. A large or tall person would want a more substantial recliner than a petite, shorter person. For example, though recliner sizes vary by manufacturer, a small recliner might run 29 inches wide (side to side) while a large chair can measure 39 to 42 inches wide.
If you love the thought of a recliner and you have limited space, consider a type of recliner called a wall hugger. The wall hugger is designed so that it does not require as much reclining distance between the wall and the back of the chair, but the footrest behaves just as it does with a traditional recliner. Many modern recliners are now resized to fit more petite users and smaller spaces.
Recliners are considered major pieces of furniture that you will want to invest in because they are frequently used and are meant to last for years. A recliner can come with many options, from a massager, heating element, powerlift mechanism, or glider, for example, and each addition may need maintenance down the line. Be careful if you are seeking a budget recliner because you want a durable manual or electric mechanism that allows all parts of the chair to operate smoothly and easily recline and close.Pros
Can offer great back and lumbar support
Power or manual options
Modern recliners are more stylish and smaller
Many moving parts need maintenance
Too large for some spaces
Many add-ons make it a costly chair
07 of 09
Best for: Outdoors, bedrooms
A chaise is essentially a long chair, one on which you can stretch your legs without having to use an ottoman. The back is usually at a semi-reclining angle, and this is the chair you use for relaxing outdoors. There are also backless chaise lounges with rolled or flared arms that look more like upholstered benches and are often used at the end of a bed.
Chaise longue became chaise lounge in English usage, and that is what it is usually called when we allude to a long, narrow lounging chair. Since this chair is all about relaxation, you will often find this shape most frequently used for outdoor furniture.
Outdoor chaise longues can reach 74 to 78 inches when reclined. Chairs come in just about any outdoor material, with frames of metal, plastic, wood, or wicker topped with cushions made from outdoor fabrics. Some sleek chaise chairs are made of sturdy, easy-to-clean synthetic mesh material that stretches on the frame and does not require cushions. You may prefer using an outdoor zero gravity lounge chair with a metal frame covered in mesh or cushioned seats indoors as many people do because it helps put the body into a neutral and comfortable posture.Pros
Comfortable and relaxing
Materials for outdoor models typically easy to clean
Outdoor cushions can be easy to replace
Takes up a lot of space indoors or out
Requires storage off-season if used outdoors
Frames may rust if used outdoors
08 of 09
Best for: Main seating for small space, filler for larger room, large entryway
A chair-and-a-half is a very useful piece of seating furniture, being slightly larger than a chair and smaller than a loveseat. The width of a chair-and-a-half makes it an ideal piece of furniture for lounging. The chair featured here is modern in style, but you can find one to fit any decor. It may have a tight back and a tight seat, or have loose cushions for the back and seat. It could also have a tight back with a loose seat. Like many other types of seating, it can also be slipcovered.
This type of chair is versatile and can work in a number of settings, such as a small living room or a bedroom. Retailers may not commonly carry a chair-and-a-half since it's less popular than other chairs because of its unique size.
So what is the typical size of a chair-and-a-half? Consider that a typical upholstered armchair may measure about 38 inches wide (side to side), a loveseat can run 60 inches wide, and a chair-and-a-half falls in the middle at about 50 inches wide.Pros
Some come as sleepers or gliders
Great cozy spot for curling up
Plenty of room for an adult plus a child or pet
Continue to 9 of 9 below.
May look clumsy in some rooms
Slipcovers can be difficult to find
Not commonly found in most furniture stores
09 of 09
Best for: Eclectic or formal living rooms, dining rooms, home offices, bedrooms, hallways, entryways
A klismos chair is a unique side chair/occasional chair that is typically made with a wood frame and either fully or partially upholstered. It is considered a historical type of design that has remained popular throughout the history of furniture.
The original klismos chair from ancient Greece was a lightweight chair designed to be graceful and elegant with a gently curved back panel, a flat seat, and slightly splayed legs. Over the years the design became less streamlined with thicker and heavier parts. The design endured, however, and it was revived in the late 18th century by American furniture makers.
The ancient Greek form of the chair has been reinterpreted over the centuries, and you can still find antique pieces, many with exaggerated curves and splays. For use in today's modern interiors and exteriors, you will find klismos chairs in a variety of materials and coverings including metal, wood, and leather. You will often find klismos chairs sold in sets since they are frequently used in the dining room.Pros
Modern designs make the chair very stable
A concave back can support some shoulders
Sleek, simple, and eye-catching in a room
Design can be uncomfortable for some petite or larger people
Fits mostly into formal spaces
Traditional splayed legs take up a lot of floor space
Choosing a Chair
Since the options for chairs seem endless, here are a few tips to help you purchase the right one for your needs. No matter what type of chair you want to buy, measure the space in which you plan to put it. Visualize how the chair will look with the rest of the furniture in your room and if it will be a practical purchase—doing this can help you avoid an impulse buy. Realize that the chair you want may not fit your lifestyle. A beautiful silk upholstered seat or white fabric on side chairs that are also used in the dining room may be quickly ruined in a household with kids and pets. Since it's more common to buy a chair online, make sure there is an ironclad return policy in case it is too uncomfortable, the upholstery/color isn't what you'd expected, or the construction quality is not up to your standards.