Each morning, while it’s still dark outside, I pour a cup of strong coffee, snuggle into my favorite chair and mentally prepare for the day. No matter how haywire things may go, the day always starts out right, thanks to my comfy chair.

I asked Beth and Rich, two of the talented interior designers on the Nell Hill’s team, to join me in sharing secrets you can use to pick the perfect chair, so you can start your days out right, too.

Pick the Purpose

In order to pick the right chair, you have to determine what roll it will play in your home and in your life. Where will the chair be located and how will it be used? For instance, will this chair be a statement piece in your formal living room or will it be in your casual family room, hosting popcorn-eating TV watchers?

“If the chair is mostly to be looked at, then your selection should be style driven,” Rich suggests. “But if it’s in a family room, you want comfort and function.”

Who will be sitting in it on a regular basis? Rarely do I find a chair that fits both a man, woman and child perfectly, so my advice is to choose the person who gets dibs on the chair and select one that fits him or her just right.

Don’t Blow Things Out of Proportion

Another key factor in picking the right chair is paying attention to scale. Beth stresses that it’s essential for your new chair to be proportionate to the other furnishings in the room. We love to mix styles, fabrics and finishes when we furnish rooms at Nell Hill’s, but the scale of all the pieces has to match or the room just won’t work.

Go for Quality

Don’t settle for anything less than a high-quality piece. Poorly made furnishings may look great on the showroom floor, flashing their seductively low price tags, but after going 10 rounds with your family, pets and guests, their beauty will quickly fade and you’ll be left with a “bargain” that creeks and sags, is split and warped.

But when you invest in a high-quality piece, your chair will look brand new for years to come. Before you buy, make sure the chair seat deck has eight-way, hand-tied steel coils that are supported by polypropylene and steel strapping. Double check to see that the frames are made of kiln-dried hardwoods and that the joints are double-doweled, with every corner blocked, screwed and glued.

Be Finicky About Features

The chances of finding the chair of your dreams dramatically increase if you know exactly what features you want. Here are a few questions to consider that will help you focus your search:

*What type of cushions do you want? Seat cushions are a lot like mattresses – some people like them firm and others want them sink-into soft.

*Do you want a chair with a tight back or cushion back?

*How high do you want the back of the chair to reach? High enough to rest your head against or low enough to see over?

*How wide and deep should the seat be? Some people like wider chairs so they can tuck their legs up next to them.

*How high do you want the arms to be? A lot of folks love English club chairs with arms perfectly positioned to allow you to read the newspaper.

*Skirt or exposed legs? Unless you’re just crazy about skirts, I recommend getting a chair without one because fabric skirts get dirty very easily. For variety, I like to fill my rooms with chairs that have a wide assortment of leg styles and finishes.

Test Drive

Say goodbye to your inhibitions and take the chair you’re considering for a test drive. How do you sit in your chair at home? Assume the same position at the furniture store. Throw your legs over the arm, tuck them under you or snuggle into your favorite nap position. If you don’t feel so comfortable that you hate to get up, the chair is probably not the one for you.

Rich and Beth’s Personal Picks for the Perfect Chair

For Beth and Rich, picking the perfect chair is a passion. Here are their current favorites …

Rich is Crazy about the Stanton

“This timeless French Bergere chair will never go out of style and looks good in just about every setting,” he states. “It works equally well in a downtown loft, a historic home or a modern suburban home.”

Beth Is in Love with the Dautry

Beth likes this unique winged back chair because it is both attractive and versatile. “It has a barrel shape that takes up dead air space in the room,” she points out. “Yet, its dimensions aren’t too big. It has great presence but it doesn’t eat up a lot of space in a room.”

Beth recommends using a pair of Dautry chairs as host and hostess chairs for a rectangular dining room table or flanking the fireplace in a living room. Or, pull four around a table or coffee table for an intimate club seating arrangement.

Next Week …Have you ever been stumped by how to decorate your coffee table? If you’d like to refresh or reinvent your coffee table décor, be sure to come back next week. I’ll show you three different looks you can use as inspiration when styling this challenging spot. See you soon!

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23 Responses to “The Best Seat in the House: How to Pick the Perfect Chair”

  1. Catherine Hopkins Says:

    I have a couple of the Stanton chairs and they are by far the most comfortable chairs in the house. I have caught myself napping in them if I sit there for longer than 5 minutes in a quiet house. :)

    we picked a fabric with herringbone pattern that blend in well with the rest of the house. It is a masculine look on a very femine chair.

  2. riki Says:

    What a nice color for the header! And the first chair is my favorite—just beautiful. Thank you.

  3. Phyllis Wheeler Says:

    I would like to know the manufacturer of Stanton French Bergere Chair discussed in the blog by Rich. What is the cost of the chair exactly as shown in the article?

    Thank you.
    Phyllis Wheeler

  4. Patti Cichon Says:

    What is that perfect paisley upholstery fabric?! And is it grey and taupe?

  5. Glenna Batchelder Says:

    This blog with pics you have created is “the best”!!!!! I look forward to the various decorating ideas and the pictures make it doable! (That word doable, is either spelled wrong or is not a word, but you know what I mean) I love the videos as well and I think this whole idea is one of your BEST!!! As I always say, “you’ve come a long way baby”!

  6. Linda Says:

    I’m looking for a nice, leather recliner w/ rollers on the feet, which is small enough for a lady, yet stylish… and having trouble finding a stylish one, of course. Any ideas?

  7. Marilyn Comer Says:

    When we moved to our present home, I decided that every single chair and sofa would be fall-asleep-in comfortable…that meant buying new chairs for my dining room table: each is an upholstered chair with arms; while the library is small, I have in it a large, very cushy, very comfy leather chair and ottoman; I had the seats of my wingbacks restuffed with feathers and down, and crowned — you get the idea. Life is simply too short not be very comfortable in one’s own home.

    The Bergere chair is so handsome in that fabric…a feminine chair in a masculine fabric: perfect. The chairs in the picture that are called barrel chairs don’t look so to me, but rather like classic wingbacks; I inherited a pair of mid-century barrel chairs and they indeed have round backs.

    I love your blog and look forward to reading all of the wonderful ideas each week!

  8. Nancy Hudson (NH) Says:

    Marilyn Comer…what a great idea to make every chair/sofa in your home “fall-asleep” comfortable; love it!

  9. Mary Carol Says:

    Phyllis—Thanks for inquiring about our previewed chair on the blog this week. The manufacturer is CR Laine—-one of my very favorites. The price with the fabric shown is $1,764.00, the ottoman is $884.00—regular price. At present we have an upholstery sale going on—call Janet for more details–877-746-4320.

  10. Mary Carol Says:

    Patti—The fabric is a CR Laine fabric, and yes the colors are grey and taupe.

  11. Mary Carol Says:

    Linda—You might try visiting the CR Laine and Lee websites to see if there is something available. To my knowledge, there are no recliners with rollers.

  12. karen shaw Says:

    Please add me to your email list. Thanks.

  13. karen shaw Says:

    please include me in your email list. Thanks.

  14. Jennifer Crawford Says:

    Great blog as usual. I have enjoyed reading each one. Both the chairs are perfect depending upon where one might want it to go. Thank you for all the design ideas and the photos. Always look forward to learning new things and your blog does not disappoint!

  15. Marilyn Shannon Says:

    Can’t wait for the coffee table ideas. Always struggle with what looks good…besides the remote!!!

  16. Stephanie PIfer-Stone Says:

    The first time I was in a Nell Hills store, I was looking at a nice chair, and someone came by and said “The only way you can tell if you like it or not is to sit in it and swing your legs over the sides. Go ahead.”I had been having a hard time and felt like I needed a boost, so I went to this beautiful store. I was shy and felt inadequate in such a beautiful place. That comment made me feel right at home. When that lady introduced herself, it turns out it was Mary Carol Garrity. Since that time, I have felt comfortable in her stores and brought a lot of my friends in to see what a lovely place it is. Hopefully I have helped your business because you certainly helped my attitude that day. Thank you!

  17. Maxine Says:

    Very helpful information as always. I love this blog and I love your store. We live a long ways away but Nell Hill is the reason we come to KC. We are going to be moving to the west coast and I plan to have one more big splurge before we go. Everywhere I go I sing your praises, especially since every time I go I get to see you at the store.

  18. Dee Ann Says:

    How marvelous! I enjoyed this so much! And, would love to know the price of the French Bergere, also,

    It’s wonderful to be kept informed and in style by these “Blogs”!!!
    Thanks to Mary Carol and her incredible staff….”Everything’s Up To Date,
    in Kansas City!”
    We all appreciate you and everything you do!!!!!

  19. Dee Ann Says:

    The question is answered…(just saw it! on the price!)
    Thanks so much!!!

  20. Mary Prather Says:

    Love love love your ideas Mary Carol! I so look forward to your emails. Your inspiration and ideas are evidenced all over my southern California home. I only wish I lived closer to your stores : ( Can’t wait for your next column on how to accessorize coffee tables. Mine is round and I always have difficulty knowing how to group items and numbers of items. Do I use a round tray for candles etc…? Also my formal dining room table is a 90″ round glass top. Very dramatic! but the same quandry regarding how to dress it up. Should I use one main vase or urn or other object or a different grouping? Thanks to you and your staff!

  21. Emily Bell Says:

    Your blog is fabulous, but it always leaves me wanting more! You need a magazine! There is a need in the magazine market for your style. In the past, Southern Living was a source of inspiration, but they’ve become too modern and lost touch with their traditional roots.

    I anxiously await your next blog!

  22. Claudia Northrup Says:

    Your comment about sitting with your coffee, in the dark, in the morning, got my attention…I am a morning person who needs some time to plan my strategy for the day, I loved and understood your semtiment. Some of my best ideas “hatch” in the dark with my cat, coffee and comfy couch (not chair). I need at least thirty minutes of quiet darkness, before anyone else stirs, to feel that peace to start the day!

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