How to buy an Occasional Chair

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There are three major factors in purchasing an occasional chair. 

Comfort – Does it feel good? Do you want to sit on it?

Style – Does it meet your fashion and taste?

Price – Even if it meets the above two criteria, if it is too expensive you will not buy.


There are literally thousands of occasional chairs to choose from so you have to be very sure of what you want the chairs(s) to do for you.  Often people end up selecting a chair only because it matches up nicely with the furniture they already own, however this is not a bad thing if the chair fits comfortably.  But, I have been to many homes; sat in their occasional chairs, and they are terrible.  The seat is far too deep and the back is way too low.  When you lean back in the chair it feels like a real effort to reach your drink, or to try and get out of the chairs.  While in the store be sure to sit down in the chair and ask yourself all the important questions, so that you choose a great chair that will serve you well instead of a great looking chair that nobody wants to sit in.  You know, the chair that all of your guests seem to avoid using until there are no seats left available in the room and then they reluctantly go over and drop themselves into.

I have a real problem with chairs with arms that are just too close together.  I was in the dental office waiting for a checkup and had to sit in the reception area chairs;  the arms were 21” apart at the front from side to side; I could barely wedge myself into the chair and when they called me into the back for my exam, when I stood up the chair came up with me.  I was stuck inside the arms of a chair.  This again comes back to planning.  Know what you need and know what size you need to fit the users that are going to be using the furniture on a day-to-day basis.  I am at the point in my life where if I walk into a restaurant and the chairs are small or uncomfortable, I will simply leave.  I will not compromise my comfort to eat a meal no matter how good the place is.  It reminds me of the plastic patio furniture that comes out for sale every summer that is designed for very small users; arms so close together you can just barely get your bottom into the seat of the chair.  Drives me bonkers.

Know what you need ahead of time.  Are you going to be having people sit in the chairs on a daily basis?  Are they for you to sit and chat or lean back and lounge?  How wide does your front opening, arm to arm, need to be to fit your guests?  Remember that occasional chairs come in so many styles and sizes that you will find the perfect chair if you just keep looking.  Sometimes it may take 30 stores for you to find what you are looking for but it is out there.  This is for sure.  It just takes the effort to keep looking.

Another thing to always consider is the size and visual weight of the chair especially if you are going to have more than one unit.  In small spaces it can be a good idea to have chairs with legs so that you can see underneath the unit to create some additional positive space in the room.  If it is NOT your style to have open area on the bottom of the chair, then make sure that it hits all your other important criteria.

The occasional chair is fun piece that you pick out at the end of everything else.  It’s like getting dressed in the morning and picking the right earrings to accessorize your outfit!  This is a perfect opportunity to add in a splash of colour; a bold pattern or a funky style to set off your whole look.  Have fun with it and maybe do something a little dashing because this one piece can easily be changed two years down the road with a minimum expenditure that can update the look of your whole room.