Best Accent Chairs
The Christopher Knight Home Evelyn is a clean, comfortable, and stylish addition to any living space. It exceeded our expectations for online furniture; the material quality was excellent, the assembly was straightforward, the seat cushion is soft without bottoming out, and it's very stable. In smaller spaces, this chair will create the illusion of a bigger room as its design alludes to larger chairs of a similar style. Plastic tipped legs are floor-friendly, and their finish looks great too. The soft linen-like upholstery is friendly to the touch and hides any wrinkles nicely. It transitioned seamlessly from morning coffee and newspaper seating to evening cocktails with style and comfort.
Anticipating the slighter smaller size of the Evelyn will ensure you aren't disappointed on arrival. The chair will do wonderfully in everyday size spaces but may seem a tad underwhelming in grander settings. Some people found the cushion to be a touch firm out of the box, although we found it to be one of the softer options in comparative testing. The armrests are a place where we can say for sure we would have appreciated a bit more cushion. They are sadly barren of cushion with a central depression that has no cushion. We measured seat height at 17" and width at 21", which is solidly in the medium width range of the chairs we tested.
The DAZONE Modern packs a lot of value into a compact package from the moment it arrives. The tidy boxing nests the ottoman into the chair's void space to protect both items and conserve packaging. The DAZONE is also the easiest to assemble and took us a total of five minutes. Screw the legs in by hand, and you're done. We loved the texture and color; the mustard yellow is bright but relaxing and will fit in various spaces. The stitching is tight and clean, the legs are solid wood with a no-frills finish, and the seat cushion is soft. The added value of the included ottoman solidly makes this an excellent value.
Although the DAZONE delivers at its price point, don't expect the world's most durable chair. We were happy with how it has held up for everyday use, and we expect it to last. We did notice the back upholstery on the upright barrel portion of the chair start to wrinkle as the fabric broke in with daily use, though. And we were also a bit worried about the stability of the leg attachments — the chair can wiggle under stress-testing. All in all, we found this to be a surprise favorite with excellent upholstery colors and great value. As happy as it is in the living room, the compact unit adds a cozy reading spot in even the tightest bedrooms.
The Lexicon Fabric is a mid-century modern powerhouse for an affordable price. The wooden pieces impressed us during our up close and personal assembly. The finish is natural and reminiscent of walnut. A warm, understated stain finish highlights the wood grain nicely. The arms arrive pre-assembled, which contributes to the greater overall stability of the chair. We felt very confident in the stability. The hardware was quality and easy to align and tighten. The seat cushion broke in nicely and is soft without bottoming out. The fabric is soft enough but excels in durability and stain resistance. The pose is laid back without feeling slouchy, and the wide casual arms are large enough to rest a cup while reading.
The Lexicon does an excellent job of bringing the mid-century style in a comfortable package. We do wish that the backrest had been softer to better balance firmness with the seat cushion. There is very little give anywhere on the chair other than the seat cushion. The seat cushion also needed a break-in period and, at first, felt like overstuffed foam. Packaging allowed the chair to arrive safely but contained more Styrofoam than competing chairs. The Lexicon seat height is 18" and the seat width 22".
The HomePop Velvet Swoop combines straight and curved lines in hallmark transitional style. The clean take on a traditional look make this piece decorative without distracting. The velvet upholstery is visually quiet from afar yet engaging up close. Assembly is straightforward once you can find and remove the legs from the underside of the chair. The velvet matches the retro inclination of the chair, and the stitching is clean. The legs feel sturdy in their placement but may need retightening over time. The cushion is very soft and complements the soft upholstery.
Many chairs we tested were a touch smaller than anticipated. The HomePop Velvet reinforced this trend and was generally just a little smaller than expected. This makes it great for tight spaces and could be a perfect choice for an entryway or doubled up in a medium-size living room. The seat is very narrow at 18" and should be noted if you prefer a wider seat. Additionally, the seat cushion is soft but bottoms out to a more rigid bottom. We would have been much more excited with the HomePop had the seat cushion been developed with a dual-density foam or better spring system. That being said, for occasional seating and simple, elegant style, the HomePop is an excellent transitional pick.
The Art Leon Mid-Century Modern Swivel crosses the boundary between accent chair and desk chair with grace. For tight spaces, the swivel function is a wonderful addition to this elegant piece. The four-legged natural wood base connects to a metal swivel mechanism that is fluid and stable; just enough padding in the seat bottom kept our testers comfortable without sinking into an overfilled cushion. The distressed suede finish looks excellent and hides everyday wear with ease. The height of the seat cushion accommodates use as an office chair quite well. At 18.5 inches, it was one of the higher seats we tested. It was also one of the narrower seats at 16 inches, but with flared armrests in a barrel design that subtly widen. The same low armrests fit neatly under most standard desk heights.
We found the Art Leon to do great in an attentive upright seating position but to lack support and cushion for more relaxed, casual use. We recommend some of the other chairs in this review over the Art Leon for lounge use where comfort is key. Over an extended period, our testers felt the seating was substantial and lamented the lack of a more robust backrest. That being said, the Art Leon encourages sitting up straight, and the swivel will be appreciated by those that like to shift their position regularly. We found the distressed suede finish attractive and appropriate to the overall design but found that the chair needs to "off-gas" its factory smell. If you are particularly sensitive to smell, perhaps select one of the polyester/cotton color choices and not the suede version.
The Christopher Knight Tafton Club Chair was the same quality construction and materials as another high scorer. The seat cushion was one of the most comfortable we tested. Where many chairs we tested used a single solid piece of foam for the cushion, the Tafton Club felt as though it used a pillow top on top of the foam for a more cushioned, yet still supportive, sit. The linen upholstery is very soft while still being durable, and all the upholstery seams and edges were finished excellently. The nailhead trim appealed to some testers and was disliked by others, but despite personal preference, it matched the wingback design perfectly.
The tufted back was a bit more firm than the seat bottom but makes the chair more visually enticing than a straight back. Perhaps the armrests could use a little more padding to match the comfort of the rest of the chair. This was one of the bigger chairs we tested, and it seemed that shipping struggled a bit with the item. Our first attempt arrived damaged beyond repair. Returning it was easy and free. The second attempt arrived in a destroyed box, but somehow the chair survived! Although a little pricier than some of the other chairs we tested, this was a truly full size, excellent quality chair worth the extra cost.
The Porthos Hayes Rocker is a unique chair that stood out from the rest for its marriage of classic rocking chair function and mid-century design. Adapting the wooden frame of an iconic mid-century occasional, the Porthos adds a curved bottom rail and gently curves the armrests to create a functional and familiar rocking chair. We had no concerns regarding the stability of the Porthos. It has a wide stance and the rocker never threatened to over tilt. It's balanced well enough that you can maintain a gentle rock with very subtle upper body motion. The dimensions of the Porthos also make it stand out. At 23.5 inches, the seat width was one of the wider chairs we tested and make it a great option for those seeking a roomier option. The armrests are at a great height for a relaxed pose, even if they are a touch narrow perhaps.
The Porthos took a bit of work to assemble and could benefit from having an extra hand at a few key moments. The wood is a nice warm tint with a clean, natural finish. We did notice a few scuffs at the pre-assembled joints where it looked like perhaps things had been forced together. The fabric on the Porthos recalls denim and is a great texture for this chair. There is a nice spring in the seat cushion, but unfortunately, a bit of lumpiness between the center of the seat and the cross rails under the knee. Overall, it's noticeable that it isn't the highest quality internal support system. On the backrest too, we could feel the difference between the softer center of the backrest and the harder perimeter where the wood frame comes into play.
The Sauder Boulevard Lounge is perhaps the most quintessential accent chair we tested. Simple and striking, it makes a statement without physically overwhelming a space. It's light to move around and will likely add exciting contrast to most homes. The materials used are well-chosen and achieve their full potential. The faux leather fooled our testers and appeared to be quite durable for everyday use. The black metal powder-coated frame is clean and highlights the seat and back nicely. As a style pop, the Sauder in real-life matches its online photos accurately. Café and lounge are in the description for the chair, and we felt that those terms were very accurate to its vibe.
Our testers' biggest issues with the Sauder were its lack of comfort and low profile. It was the lowest seat we tested, with the cushion only 15.5 inches above ground. This could be problematic for anyone with knee or back issues and the Sauder could be considered at below standard height. The backrest was also quite low and for long periods of sitting, we lamented not having any support for our upper back. The pose is very much in the lounge-style and supports a relaxed seating position over an upright one. The cushion is nice and has evenly distributed support but will likely be too firm for long sessions. Overall, it's an excellent style choice in a stable frame but likely won't be enjoyed for longer than an occasional passing sit.
The Lansen Furniture Modern consistently attracted positive attention while in our test space. The bright color and intriguing jersey corduroy upholstery entice those looking for a fun accent chair option. Extremely lightweight, the Lansen won't dominate a space and can be quickly and easily repositioned. It was one of the quickest chairs to assemble, with only five bolts total. The legs are clean, unfussy solid wood with a durable but understated finish. The fabric is soft and pleasing to touch. The yellow color has a touch of orange yielding a warm golden hue.
On a budget, the Lansen will be a fun addition to a space, which should ultimately be a goal of any accent chair. The value of a successful accent chair isn't just based on utility alone, and joy should be considered when selecting the best option. That being said, our testers found it to be one of the least stable chairs we tested and wouldn't want anyone to base the Lansen purely on looks alone. Stability can be improved some by placing the chair on a rug or carpet — on hardwood floors, the legs flexed gently, and the chair wobbled slightly. It's clearly not the highest quality chair, and the under-upholstery wire frame that gives the chair shape can be felt through the thin layer of foam padding. In the backrest, this is particularly noticeable along the top edge where it supported our testers' upper backs. We felt the Lansen makes a nice visual impact in situations where it will be infrequently used or would be an excellent choice in kids' rooms for its wonderful color and minimal weight.
With dark wood and denim textile, the JIASTING Mid-Century looks exactly as expected for a mid-century accent piece. With the widest seat of the chairs we tested (24 inches), the JIASTING could accommodate our smaller testers sitting cross-legged. The armrests are wide and flat and stable enough to rest a mug or glass. The round wood framing is friendly and stable. The fabric is a soft denim-like textile that is quite comfortable for an extended session curled up with a book. The bottom cushion has a spring and foam support that was decently comfortable but has a few hard spots on the perimeter of the seat.
From afar, it looks like high-quality materials, but up close it was not the most luxurious chair we tested. The finish on the wood looked spray applicated and is not as even as a laminate or stain. Running a hand over the wood reveals a subtle raised grain that wasn't perfectly smooth. These are small details certainly, but a sign of the haste with which this chair was made. Many people will be quite satisfied with the look of the wood but those closely inspecting it may be frustrated by the quality. The rubber screw caps are flimsy and don't conform to the curvature of the wooden legs, making them stand out a bit. The backrest is at a very steep angle, and a small lumbar support pillow may make the chair more comfortable.
Why You Should Trust Us
Eric Bissell cares deeply about furniture design and may have overthought some of the chairs in this test group as our lead tester. Eric has lived in a variety of spaces each with its unique challenge of maximizing efficiency and enjoyment. At home, he is always looking for ways to improve the utility and design of a space.
To cut through the numerous accent chairs on the internet, we researched dozens of the most popular chairs available. From there, we narrowed our selection to 9 of the best contenders. We then assembled them just as you would and put them through side-by-side testing in our test space.
Analysis and Test Results
Selection began by researching hundreds of the possible accent chairs available online. Accent chairs vary widely in style, mimicking design movements that span the last 200 hundred years and more. We wanted to provide you with a variety of styles to help you match with or contrast against your existing space. We chose to test the most objective aspects of the chair and deliberately left out a basic "style" metric. Ultimately, what style of chair is preferred by one reader may be different than a style that is preferred by another reader.
For this reason, our testing focused on how satisfied a buyer would be with the tangible qualities of the chair. This is why we tested for packaging, assembly, material quality, comfort, and stability. Considering each chair via these five criteria allowed us to narrow in on the best accent chairs while letting you choose the style that you would like for your home.
Ordering furniture online can be daunting. Not only are you trying to make selections based on photos, but the item has to safely make it to its final destination (your home) after traveling across the country. From the manufacturer to our testing team is the same journey of shipping peril that your item will face. For this reason, we chose to rank the packaging and shipping as a metric to compare. Nobody likes dealing with returns, and the better the packaging, the less likely you'll have to deal with broken on arrival furniture.
Lighter chairs were certainly more easily packaged and seemed to fair better in transport. For instance, the Lansen Modern arrived in a small, light, box that one person could move solo, if necessary. The Dazone Modern also impressed us by using the ottoman to nest into the chair's barrel shape, supporting both and reducing the amount of packaging overall.
Heavier items had more signs of abuse in transport. For instance, the Porthos Hayes Rocker was a heavier shipment and the box had a fist-sized hole in it where it looked like a mechanical lift had perhaps misjudged its motion. Luckily the chair escaped damage. Some chairs arrived in unique chair-shaped cardboard boxes like the HomePop Velvet. This made them a little harder to unbox but perhaps protected the chair in transport by signaling to delivery companies its contents. The HomePop also chose to package their legs under the seat bottom with fabric stapled to the bottom upholstery. We didn't find this to be the most elegant packaging and came close to damaging the fabric as we tried to free the legs. The Lexicon Fabric arrived without damage but had an over-the-top amount of Styrofoam packaging. Perhaps the most difficult chair from a shipping perspective was the Christopher Knight Tafton Club Chair which, due to its heavy awkward shape, arrived with a forklift hole through the box and front of the chair. Returning the chair was relatively easy and the replacement arrived undamaged.
Every chair we tested required at least some assembly. From five minutes to 30 minutes, the complexity and duration of unboxing and building our chairs varied significantly. Time generally followed difficulty of assembly, with the easiest chairs taking less time than the more difficult chairs. The quickest chair was the DAZONE Modern at five minutes and 13 seconds. A few chairs like the DAZONE were no-tool assembly. Simply screw in the legs by hand and you're done. Even with the eight legs of the chair and ottoman, the DAZONE's symmetrical legs were quickest to put together. Another quick assembly was the Lansen Modern, with only a total of five bolts and very light parts that made assembly low stress. A unique assembly was the Christopher Knight Home Evelyn which required no tools and had burly V-shaped brackets that allowed parts to slide and lock into one another. It left little room for error and yielded a substantial and stable chair.
The more complex chairs took closer to 30 minutes to put together and were either tricky to build or had a small error that took us time to try and fix. The Art Leon Mid Century looked as though it would be an easy build but ended up taking us 23 minutes trying to get parts to line up with little tolerance for error. A few holes didn't line up easily and took some force to make work. Ultimately, everything went together, but holding multiple tools at once made this a harder assembly. The Porthos Hayes Rocker and the JIASTING Mid-Century both had complex wooden frames that required many bolts to be installed. Patience was key on these assemblies and following the recommendation of loosely tightening everything before the final tighten was important. The JIASTING disappointed us by having two screws that were supposed to anchor the bottom of the seat cushion to the frame but were not well-aligned and therefore useless. The chair still functioned fine but indicated lower quality construction.
Material quality is an excellent signal for the overall aesthetics of the chairs we tested. The two chairs that scored highest in this metric were also some of our top picks and our quickest to recommend. Manufacturers that took the time to source and use higher quality materials seemed to also put more energy into design and comfort. Our top choice Christopher Knight Home Evelyn excelled in this metric. The Evelyn had a soft linen-like textile that was friendly to touch. The upholstery was tight and clean with no stitching weaknesses. The bracket assembly allowed the item to be shipped deconstructed in its box yet ingeniously hid any external fasteners.
Another excellent option was the Lexicon Fabric. Solid and intricate woodwork on the frame elevated this chair beyond its comparable more budget options. The foam was generous on the seat cushion and will take time before it packs into the point of needing replacing. The finish on the wood is much more natural and has an even smoothness not just on top of the armrests but also underneath.
From a distance, some chairs appeared to be of excellent quality but up-close left something to be desired. The JIASTING Mid-Century looks like a nice dark hardwood frame but up close the finish on the wood is a little spotty and appears to be spray applicated. In this finishing process, the natural grain of the JIASTING may have been lifted and the result is a slight furry feeling on the edges of the armrests. At some joints, you can see where the paint didn't fully penetrate, and the lighter under-wood is showing. These are small details but were important to some of our testers.
Another chair that didn't do as well in terms of material quality was the Lansen Modern. We liked that the Lansen was a lightweight option, but it was clear that the chair was manufactured at a lower cost than some competition. To achieve the chair's interesting shape, it seems that a wireframe makes up the bulk of the chair's structure. This is fine, yet the minimal padding barely softens the frame at the top edge of the backrest. Our chair arrived a little misshapen, and we had to bend an armrest into shape to achieve a symmetrical look.
The importance of comfort will vary depending on the intended use of your accent chair. Is this a chair that one hopes to curl up in and read for a few hours? Or is this an "occasional" in a more transitional space like an entryway? Depending on the use, comfort could either be the most important metric or least. Most of us though are going to prefer that chairs achieve at least a base level of comfort, which all of these chairs do. The most comfortable chairs all fell within our top choices.
The Christopher Knight Home Evelyn was the most comfortable chair we tested, complete with generous seat and back padding. We also enjoyed the DAZONE Modern and found the ottoman to be an awesome addition to the overall comfort of the chair. The barrel shape makes this a cozy option, and the chair would be quite happy even in a bedroom corner. The Christopher Knight Tafton Club Chair was another option that invited prolonged lounge sessions with a very roomy seat and soft cushion. It was a great design for a variety of seated positions.
Many chairs tended to be a bit firmer than we would have liked. Reading other reviews, it seems that most people would prefer softer chairs overall. The Art Leon Mid-Century, Sauder Boulevard Lounge, and the Lansen Modern were the hardest, most firm, chairs we tested. The Sauder seemed appropriately padded for its style, but we wished the Lansen and Art Leon had more padding. The HomePop Velvet was almost too soft, bottoming out to the hard frame support beneath.
Stability in a chair is a basic but important metric for testing. In our testing, we found a correlation between material quality and stability as well. A wide stance and secure legs made for the most stable chairs. For instance, the Lexicon Fabric has a wide and extended stance that makes for a very stable position. The arms come pre-assembled on the Lexicon, and we think that this improves the overall feel of the chair. For a swivel chair, the Art Leon was very stable. The heavy solid wood legs and metal swivel hardware added a weight that grounded the chair nicely.
By far the least stable chair was the Lansen Modern with long narrow legs and minimal seat to leg connection. On hardwood floors, the Lansen's hard plastic-tipped legs skittered about and weren't perfectly level. It did a bit better on a rug or carpet. The DAZONE Modern was also a bit concerning for stability, although in the time since its assembly we have used it extensively and had no long-term issues.
We unboxed, assembled, sat in, stress-tested, and visually analyzed more accent chairs than you can fit in a living room for this review. All of them added color and texture to our test space. Some consistently attracted us for a morning coffee, while others found their way to computer desks. Cushions wore in and wore out as we put these chairs through the motions of everyday use. Whether you're looking for mid-century modern refinement or vintage velvet, we hope you'll find the perfect accent chair for your home.
— Eric Bissell
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