The reading chair is a funny classification because it’s not really official by any furniture standard. When we talk about reading chairs, we mean seats that promote relaxation, security and protection from the demands of the world outside your book (including the harsh demands of gravity).
You could say the reading chair is the evolutionary high point of sitting down. A good reading chair is one you can stay in for hours and hours, poring through detective novels, newspapers or websites like this one. You could even watch TV in a reading chair — we’re really not sticklers about the term. It’s possible you have one already — one that you’ve been carrying with you move after move after move. But if you don’t, here are some more than worthy options.
The Poäng is four decades old, and it’s one of the few early Ikea designs to enjoy popularity throughout every stage of the Swedish dorm outfitter’s long history. How has it lasted so long? While it’s not the standard of design excellence, it’s cheap, lightweight, good-looking and easy to care for — a much sought-after and unfortunately rare set of attributes.
Skiles Wide Armchair
It’s plush, it’s inviting and it’s under $200. Find comfort in the Skiles chair, especially knowing you got a good deal on a great chair.
Book Nook Armchair
When you think about a reading chair, you may conjure up a tall, wide chair that takes up an entire corner of a room. They don’t have to be that. West Elm’s Book Nook chair is built for those of us without the square-footage to accommodate other options on this list. A simple wheat-colored upholster job covers a compact, pleasantly priced wood-framed chair. Plus, the armrests dip just enough to keep your elbows rested and a book squarely in front of your face.
Rivet North End Wood Accent Living Room Arm Chair
Rivet is one of Amazon’s in-house furniture brands and it’s vaguely mid-century modern. Amazon says that the pieces are “sure to turn heads,” which isn’t really true. The North End accent chair does the opposite — it’s the ideal corner reading chair for those who would rather keep it low-key, and there’s not a damn thing wrong with that.
The Inside makes well-designed furniture at lower-than-retail price points. The chair looks as if someone took a box and carved out a little nook to sit in. For picky people, there are over 100 design options for the chair so it can fit your home design aesthetic. We’re fans of the tall arm height so you can comfortably rest your arms or lay your head.
Tia Velvet Chair
Urban Outfitters surprisingly carries a lot of velvet chairs. This retro, ’70s-inspired armchair features an interesting curved base, so this reading chair doubles as an accent piece.
Gabriola Boucle Chair
Article’s curvy, deep=set reading chair carries with it the relaxed and slightly weird vibe of the ’70s and ’80s. It’s also covered in boucle, which serves up a tidy opportunity to present some texture contrast in your living room. Or you could buy a sofa that looks exactly the same. It’s your living room.
Carlo Mid-Century Chair – Metal Legs
West Elm’s Carlo chair references the mid-century modern furniture zeitgeist, but isn’t the exact same chair that’s been reproduced by every manufacturer under the sun. Looking at the chair from the front, it’s much deeper and more narrow than it appears, imbuing it with a kind of sneaky coziness. West Elm also offers different fabric, color and leg options.
Penny Lounge Chair
A chair you can sink into. Industry West is a newer furniture maker putting out riffs on many design eras. This one is mid-century modern, and is made from a walnut frame and a pair of cushions.
Oxford Weave Soba Armchair
This boxy chair from Inside Weather offers an inviting place to spend your weekends. There’s a nice contrast between the wooden arms and the upholstered seating, and like all Inside Weather furniture, there are endless possibilities for customization.
Saic Quantam Rocking Chair
According to its designer, the Saic chair “traces the shape of the human body and allows you to become totally immersed in the chair.” The ergonomic design cradles your body, creating a safe space from the outside world. As great as the chair is for immersing yourself into a book, it works just as well to rock you to sleep.
Block Nomad Club Chair
Burrow’s club chair shares a lot of DNA with its sofa, which is one of our favorite ones you can buy on the internet. It’s easy to assemble, offers up an absurd level of customization, is priced well and, on occasion, goes on sale. Its style is plain, and that’s the point — the brand doesn’t make statement pieces, they make pieces that blend into what you already have.
Ardis Black Chair
I think it’s fair to say this chair is a vibe. Black poly-velvet, extra-wide with an airy and thin base, CB2’s Ardis chair provides some shape and material contrast to a reading nook.
Hai Lounge Chair
The Hem brand is the ideal marriage of high-end design and the online marketplace. Its furniture is beautiful, made with premium materials and designed by some of the brightest creative minds in Europe (it’s based in Stockholm); but it’s also much quicker about shipments, ease of assembly (and disassembly) and customer service than many brick-and-mortar design outlets. The Hai chair epitomizes this. A blend of mid-century shape and contemporary lines, it arrives fully built. It also comes in six colors with the option to add an ottoman.
New Standard Lounge Chair
In a memo sent to eventual co-founding partners Maurice Blanks and Charlie Lazor, John Christakos described an early vision of Blu Dot as follows: “I am still leaning towards smart design for middle-class America. The Shaker thing with the nineties twist, babe.” A couple decades later and the trio’s company has done just that — luxe design that doesn’t get stuck in the rhythms and pomp of luxe design. Available upholstered and in leather, the New Standard lounge sports wide arms, a loose cushion and wiry splayed legs. It’s essentially a throne for regular people.
The leather club chair is about as classic as it gets. Room & Board’s offering is more minimal than most — it can be dressed up or down and it looks good with furniture from almost any era. Room & Board also offers free design consultation, white glove delivery and makes the vast majority of its furniture in the US. Prepare for the sickest patina of your life.
Schoolhouse makes good products. From the hardware and home accessories that made it famous to this compact lounge chair, everything is good. The Jack Chair’s low-slung arms and minimally tufted cushion is mid-century modern lite at its best.
Eames Lounge Chair and Ottoman
“This is the ability to select among the unlimited possibilities and return considerable richness to the world.” That’s how Today Show co-host Lee Meriweather captured Charles and Ray Eames’s ability to make old things new at the release of the Eames Lounge Chair in 1956. If there were a Tolkien-esque “one chair to rule them all,” it would be the Eames’s transcendent lounger. The 20th century’s answer to the 19th century’s club chair was designed to neutralize pressure on the lower back and mimic the look of a baseball mitt (leather folds included). It is unquestionably the most recognizable piece of high design ever conceived on American soil. The chair is made today in much the same way it was in decades past, but nowadays you get to pick leather colors, upholstered cushions, wood veneer finishes and more.
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