Design Field Notes

Design Field Notes

Design Field Notes

How To

For the Occasion: How to choose the right armchair

Choosing the right occasional chair, or armchair can be a challenge.  It is a signature piece in a living setting that can make or break the design.  A great armchair must compliment the style and existing shapes in the room but still needs to stand out. 

When taking this on, consider all other elements in the space first – such as the other furniture, flooring, wall colours and lighting. The armchair needs to complement the sofa, but it’s much more interesting to select from a different range – so the setting isn’t too “matchy”.  Contrasting upholstery can offer a point of difference, such as neutral linen sofa teamed with a tan leather armchair.  More contrast can be created in the finer details including studding, piping and legs.  This about other contrasts like, if the skirt on your armchair goes to ground, opt for sofa legs that are exposed.  For something that will really stand out, look for details like turned arms, deep buttoning and contrast piping.  Oly San Francisco features unique details in armchairs such as antique nailing, mirror detailing and quirky leg shapes.

Next, think about the purpose of the chair – is it needed for creating additional social seating alongside the sofa?  Or is it going to be positioned in a cozy nook, on it’s own?  Armchairs are particularly inviting when partnered with a side table, lighting and comfortable soft furnishings.  Reupholstering armchairs can be an expensive option, so I suggest updating an armchair with a cushion or throw rug.

Who is going to be using the chair?  Fabric choice and detailing is the easiest way to create opulence.  Luxurious fabrics and trims can be used to great effect for armchairs with low to medium use.  However, for families, there are still many great fabrics to choose from with high rub ratings and fabric protection can be applied. 

When sitting in the armchair pay attention to how the rake of the chair feels.  The rake will determine how far forward or back the chair allows you to sit and too far either way will be uncomfortable.  The depth and height of the seat also needs to be considered and be the right dimensions for you.  The cushion fill will also impact on the comfort level.  Feather fill is the most decadent option but requires constant fluffing to maintain the shape.  A combination of foam and feather will offer a good balance of practicality and softness.

At the moment, the resurgence of deco and retro styles in fashion and interior design has influenced the style of armchairs.  Deep buttoning is a popular feature suited to both fabric and leather upholstery.   North European simplicity is still a really popular look which includes mid century and Scandinavian design.