HOT SEATS: YOUR VINTAGE ACCENT CHAIR SHOPPING GUIDE
What’s the secret to always sitting pretty? A sensational accent chair, of course! Accent chairs may play second fiddle to sofas and beds and desks in most rooms, but that doesn’t mean they’re not standouts in their own right. In fact, accent chairs offer up the perfect opportunity to take a design risk. While the sheer scale of items like sofas and beds encourage us to scale back a bit in the design department, accent chairs are a spot-on way to have a bit more fun.
That said, shopping for accent chairs is no easy task. In addition to making decisions on size, material, and color, there’s also the matter of what type of accent chair you want to pursue. If you’re shopping for modern accent chairs, choices abound, including slipper chairs, lounge chairs, swivel chairs, and club chairs. If you desire a more traditional accent chair, there are wingback chairs, Bergère chairs, and Windsor chairs to consider. So how do you make the call on what accent chair is right for you and your space? To help, we’re outlining some of the most common seats on the market—from accent chairs with ottomans to accent chairs with arms (and no arms at all!). Read on to find out more.
Originally known as the “easie” or “cheeked” chair, the wingback is notable for its tall back, sunken seat, and wrap-around “wings'' that encase the sitter’s head. Dating to the 17th century, the wingback design was born out of the need to protect occupants from rogue drafts that commonly afflicted homes before centralized heating. Use these traditional chairs to flank a fireplace or lend gravitas to either side of a buffet in a dining room or a console in an entry. And while the wingback may initially seem like an incredibly traditional chair, those who deem their style more avant-garde may still want to consider it. Designers frequently like to use wingbacks as vehicles for eccentric upholstery fabrics.
If you’re looking for an accent chair with an ottoman, a wingback may not be your best bet. Because the wingback’s upright silhouette doesn’t make them the ideal chair for lounging, most don’t come equipped with ottomans. On the other hand, those who are hunting for accent chairs in a set of two would be remiss not to consider the wingback. Thanks to their compact form, these chairs are often sold in pairs.
Sought after for its elegant French stylings, the Bergère is easily identified by its upholstered back, seat frame, and armrests, as well as its loose seat cushion, and exposed wood frame. Originating in the early 18th century, Bergères typically feature three types of backs: an arched back known as a Bergère Cabriolet, a straight back known as a Bergère a la Reine, and a tub back known as the Bergère Marquis.
Bergères have a classic style, which makes them excellent fits for traditional designs. They’re also frequently employed by designers in French country or shabby chic-style spaces. You’ll often find these elegant accent chairs upholstered in solid linens as well as playful prints like pinstripes, plaids, or florals. Like wingbacks, it isn’t common to find this style of accent chair with an ottoman, but they are fairly easy to find in pairs. Use a pair of the French accent chairs opposite a sofa or consider using one solo in a bedroom next to a bed.
Featuring short legs, an armless body, and a high back, the slipper chair is among one of the most compact modern accent chairs available. The slipper chair dates back to the early 18th century, where it got its start in ladies’ boudoirs. Its armless construction allowed women wearing voluminous hoop skirts to easily slip on and off slippers with the help of a maid kneeling at her feet. As women’s skirts slimmed down, the style fell off the radar for a time until being resurrected by legendary designer-to-the-stars, Billy Baldwin, in the 1950s.
Today, the slipper chair is a go-to for those shopping for a small accent chair. It’s lack of arms gives the slipper chair a slim profile, making it easy to slip one just about anywhere. Use one in a small entryway, or floated in front of a fireplace or the foot of a bed. You’ll likely discover when shopping for slipper chairs that the majority have a Hollywood Regency era vibe, but the style did persist into the Mid-Century, and those craving a more modern slipper chair may want to seek out slipper designs by masters like Jens Risom, T.H. Robsjohn-Gibbins, and Milo Baughman.
A more neoteric style than the wingback, Bergère, or slipper chair, club chairs are rumored to have gotten their start in French gentlemens’ clubs, which began cropping up at the turn of the 20th century. These modern accent chairs are identifiable by their sunken seat, low back, wide armrests, and amply-stuffed silhouette. The archetypal club chair is typically a large accent chair with arms, upholstered in cognac-colored leather. The backs of these chairs can be straight or curved, and their arms can be flat or rolled. In the 1920s and 30s, Swedish designers began taking a more streamlined approach to the club chair. These designers nixed the chair’s traditional squared-off arms and instead opted for swooping half-circle arms edged in exotic wood veneers. Rather than leather upholstery, they opted for mohairs and velvets that better showed off upholstery details like channel-tufting.
Today, club chairs assume a wide variety of forms, making it possible to find one to suit virtually any style. Among designers’ favorite club chairs are the Parsons club chair and the safari club chair. The Parsons club chair features open-side arms and legs that form a 90-degree angle, while the safari chair which consists of a simple wood frame outfitted with panels of leather to create the chair’s back and seat. The safari club chair also comes outfitted with leather straps that function as the chair’s arms. Either is a good bet if you’re looking for an accent chair with a matching ottoman.
- Ethan Allen Accent Chairs
- Victorian Accent Chairs
- Henredon Accent Chairs
- Bamboo Accent Chairs
- Queen Anne Accent Chairs
- Thomasville Accent Chairs
- Drexel Heritage Accent Chairs
- French Provincial Accent Chairs
- Barrel Chairs
- DUX Accent Chairs
- Herman Miller Accent Chairs
- Bernhardt Accent Chairs
- Ralph Lauren Accent Chairs
- High Back Accent Chairs
- Asian Accent Chairs
- Floral Accent Chairs
- Reclining Accent Chairs
- Art Deco Accent Chairs
- Eames Accent Chairs
- Swan Chairs
- Papa Bear Chairs
- French Accent Chairs
- Southwestern Accent Chairs
- Safari Accent Chairs
- Drexel Accent Chairs