How to Buy Chairs and ReclinersIdentify your personal style
Is it casual, contemporary, country, traditional or eclectic? If you're unsure, look at the items around you to see how they reflect your personality--your wardrobe, your car, your magazines, favorite movies, etc.
Upholstered chairs are constructed of the same basic elements as sofas: a hidden frame, springs and padding. The primary differences are design and proportion. It is not uncommon to find a "matching" chair available with a sofa. However, as much as you like the sofa, there's something not quite right about the chair. It looks, well...boxy. What has happened is that the sofa manufacturer has taken the frame and arm dimensions from the sofa and constructed a piece with one seat cushion, calling it a chair. And while the chair does in fact match the sofa, the results are usually somewhat less than graceful.
In selecting the right chair, a careful balance of comfort and style must be attained, with the scale tilting toward comfort. Consider the manner in which you plan on using the chair. A firmer more upright "seat" would provide support for reading or socializing in a more formal setting, whereas you might prefer a deeper, softer chair for lounging or napping.
While there is no formula for determining comfort, a chair's firmness and support are a function of the chair's depth, back height and pitch, fill material and even the weave of the fabric. Some of the more popular chair designs include: the barrel chair - a small-scaled chair with a rounded back that often swivels, the lounge chair - generally larger in scale, the fan back or shell back chair - decorative and more formal, and the wing chair - a favorite in traditional rooms.
Courtesy of Lazar Industries, Inc. In selecting a fabric, wearability becomes a somewhat greater issue for a chair than a sofa, as you can expect the chair to be used a great deal more. Typically, chair fabrics are synthetics, selected for durability and cleanability. You will also find them to be more simple in their design, allowing them to complement a patterned sofa fabric. The addition of an ottoman will add considerable comfort to the chair, however, they can be difficult to work into the floor plan of a small room.
Occasional chairs, also known as accent or exposed-wood chairs are generally smaller in scale than fully upholstered chairs. Their frames being visible, the quality is easy to see. They should have a solid feel resulting from proper joining of frame parts and not rack or twist when you lift one corner.
Look for clean, smooth joints with a minimum of nails and screws. Chairs that are constructed with fewer parts that are bent and shaped are generally stronger than those put together from many pieces. The frames should have a smooth finish that complements the other wood pieces in the room they are to be used in.
In addition to fabric choices, you will often have a choice of wood finish, although you can expect to wait eight to twelve weeks for a "custom" chair to be made up specially for you. While there are a great many styles to choose from, the majority of occasional chairs are European (French or Italian) or Eighteenth Century in design.
Recliners, while seldom accused of being the most beautiful chairs, are extremely popular due to their comfort and practicality. Offering the benefits of a chair and ottoman without taking up the space, recliners are constructed with one of three mechanisms allowing the ottoman to extend and the back to recline.
The two-way mechanism found in less expensive chairs allows you to open the chair into a reading position with the ottoman up or in a fully reclining position. These chairs require more space behind them to be opened and in the fully reclined position will raise your feet above your heart. Recent designs allow for the back to break-away and operate independently of the ottoman. The multi-position mechanism opens forward so that the chair can be placed in close proximity to the wall.
Also known by the trade name WallLounger or WallSaver, the mechanism in these chairs will often be operated with the aid of a handle or button. Once opened to the reading position with the ottoman up, the chair back can be adjusted to recline to any degree by pulling the arms forward. The rocker mechanism is a multi-position mechanism that allows the chair to rock until the ottoman is opened. These chairs require more space behind them than the WallLoungers and feature a multi-position back.
You will often have the option of ordering rocker recliners with a swivel base for an additional charge. Recliner frames are constructed of any number of materials ranging from hardwoods on the better chairs, to plywood and molded plastic. Sinuous springs are used beneath the seat cushion, and Dacron fills the back. The attached back pillows on some designs are zippered so that you can add filling as it settles over time.
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