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.
Ikea Poäng Armchair
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.
Target Garrison Pillow Top Recliner
Part of Target’s Project 62 collection, the Garrison recliner is a hyper-affordable, surprisingly comfortable chair to cozy up to. As with most Target furniture, check if you can ship it to your local store for pickup before shipping directly to your own home — you’ll save both time and the potential for clumsy delivery people.
Rivet North End Accent 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.
West Elm 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.
Article Matrix Chair
Article typically keeps things fairly simple from a design standpoint — affordable mid-century modern with contemporary twists. The Matrix chair isn’t this. Its curvy lines and velvet upholstery are more disco than Sinatra, and it’s better for it. As with all velvet, do you best to keep it out of the sun and fluff regularly.
West Elm Carlo Chair
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.
Hay About A Chair 123
Need a cozy chair to put in a corner but don’t have much space? This is it. Hay are the masters of original, reasonably priced Scandinavian design. This chair, whose shape alludes to the Eameses famous shell chairs, is a prime example. Plus, it goes on sale pretty frequently.
Industry West 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.
Burrow Nomad Leather 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.
CB2 Avec Chair
CB2’s Avec chair’s high armrests aren’t so much armrests as they are extensions of the back cushion — essentially making the chair a reading nook unto itself. If you don’t get the velvet emerald fabric you’re a coward.
Hem Hai Chair
Hem 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 in small pieces and can be assembled without tools. It also comes in six colors with the option to add an ottoman.
Blu Dot 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.
Room & Board Bram Club Chair
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.
Vitsoe 620 Chair
Designed by the great Dieter Rams, Vitsoe’s 620 chair programme has remained the same since 1962. Replacement parts, leathers and materials from the earliest models are as they were then. Rams’s chair combines nearly unbreakable sheet moulding and untreated, full-grain leather to make a chair with a foot in tradition and science fiction.
Eames Lounge Chair
“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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