Accent Chairs for Small Spaces - Articulate

Accent Chairs for Small Spaces

If there was a manual for decorating small spaces, the rules would be as follows:

  • Buy things you can hide.
  • Cull everything excess.
  • Be 100% tidy 100% of the time.

In other words: have zero fun. While these tidbits are worthy of consideration, follow them too closely, and you’ll end up with a look reminiscent of a sterile highway motel room. This is not our vision for you. Your small home deserves more — much more — than a stiff bed and a mini-fridge.

Crystalin Marie's Daisy chair brings a little funk to her cleanly styled living room. It looks great topped with that mudcloth pillow too.

Crystalin Marie’s Daisy chair brings a little funk to her cleanly styled living room. It looks great topped with that mudcloth pillow too.

No piece of furniture has more big house energy than the accent chair. A functional embellishment, accent chairs for small spaces manage to offer more seating *and* express your personal style. We hear you: how could you possibly add *another* piece into the mix without a cluttering effect? What about the rules? Let us help you bend them. Take a seat while we unpack the transformative power of the accent chair.

The Small Space Mindset

In most decor literature, accent chairs are written about like jewelry: they’re the frosting that elevates a room from vanilla to vogue. Traditionally, our house-dwelling (lucky) fore-decorators strictly used the accent chair on the rare occasion they had company. Even today, we still see accounts of accent chairs existing more like sculptures than seats, often pictured in catalogs living an uncrowded, un-sat upon life everywhere: the hallway. The living room. The bathroom?

We love the shades of blue in this sweet little reading nook. The Matrix in pacific blue looks especially beautiful against those tri-colored tiles.

We love the shades of blue in this sweet little reading nook at The House that Lars Built. The Matrix chair in pacific blue looks especially beautiful against those tri-colored tiles.

 

But what if you live in an urban apartment and — like so many of us — you can barely squeeze grocery bags through your condo hallway? And the star of your [small living room is unquestionably your sectional]? And the only space for sitting in your bathroom is the porcelain throne? For those of us dwelling in 700 square feet (or less), sitting room is a precious commodity. The accent chair can’t just be ornamental: it needs to be of service.

Where to Place An Accent Chair

You know you want an extra seat or two, but, as a small space dweller, you’ve got a few obstacles. Like walls. You can’t throw an accent chair just anywhere. So how can you add some sit-able decor without feeling squished? While there are a thousand ways to place an accent chair, here are some of our favorites for small nests.

Accent chairs are more malleable than a sofa! We love how Vestige Home has styled hers to be both easy to move and loungey.

Accent chairs are more malleable than a sofa! We love how Vestige Home has styled her Embrace chairs to be both easy to move and lounge-y.

A full circle sitting area.

Since your living room is your couch’s home, it’s the most natural place for an accent chair to cozy up. Create a conversation-ready circle by placing a single accent chair adjacent to your sofa or a duo across from your couch. With a coffee table in the middle, this set-up is perfect for debating whether Game of Thrones season eight needs a rewrite or centralizing access to the charcuterie board.

Cozy, but with minimal visual clutter, Maison de Pax chose the Lento chair to wrangle the sitting area together in her ranch-themed living room.

Cozy, but with minimal visual clutter, Maison de Pax chose the Lento chair to wrangle the sitting area together in her ranch-themed living room.

A cozy reading nook.

What if you want the exact opposite of a conversation circle? Serenity now! By tucking an accent chair in the crook of your bedroom or living area, you can create a feeling of a room-within-a-room, without requiring room dividers. For the bookish amongst us a reading nook — complete with a plush, sink-in-able chair — is a non-negotiable, no matter how small a home we dwell in.

How does a corner become a nook? Only with a lounge chair that swallows you up, like the Nina lounge chair.

How does a corner become a nook? Only with a lounge chair that swallows you up, like the Nina lounge chair, as seen in the DIY Playbook’s home.

An elevated home office.

Standard desk chairs might lift, lower, and roll, but they don’t add much to your aesthetic. Plus, they kind of make you think of work, which is the last thing you want when you’re trying to relax. Consider upping the home office ante by replacing your swivel standby with a lounge chair. Since multi-function is your friend, you can always round up this trusty addition as a stylish way to accommodate guests on the fly.

An accent chair doesn't have to STAND OUT. A chameleon approach, as seen here in (name) home, is striking without being overt. The Sven in green velvet is an easy favorite.

An accent chair doesn’t have to STAND OUT. A chameleon approach, as seen here in Jenny Kirker of Living Pattern’s home, is striking without being overt. The Sven in green velvet is an easy favorite.

As a stand.

Curiosity draws the eye. And accent chairs make beautiful — but unexpected — perches for plant babies, books, or alarm clocks. Go side table. Go nightstand. Go plant stand; non-upholstered wooden seats are a multi-purpose wonder for small spaces wanting for surface area. They do the job without leaving a big footprint. Bonus: you can always pull the chair around when company comes over.

The Esse stool epitomizes the magic of multi-function. This cute little stool can moonlight as a nightstand, daylight as a seat, and mid-afternoon as a home for you latest read. Styled here with the Nova sofa.

The Esse stool epitomizes the magic of multi-function. This cute little stool can moonlight as a nightstand, daylight as a seat, and mid-afternoon as a home for you latest read. Styled here with the Nova sofa.

A moveable feast.

When used as dining seating, accent chairs can transform any meal from meat and potatoes to steak au poivre resting on a bed of pommes soufflées. But don’t limit your creativity to your culinary exploits. By mixing n’ matching your accent chairs around your dining table, you can make a statement that’s at once cohesive and eclectic. What’s more? With plush cushioning, soft upholstery, and mid-century design, contemporary dining chairs are starting to look suspiciously like accent chairs. Any chair can be an accent chair when you move it away from the table. How convenient.

The Chanel dining chair looks as at home across from your sofa as it does at your bistro table.

The Chanel dining chair looks as at home across from your sofa as it does at your bistro table.

Best Accent Chairs for Small Spaces: Space Saving Design.

Accent chairs are meant to stand out, but not initiate total-living-space-domination. So how can you choose pieces that don’t make big demands on your space? Look for pieces that *appear* smaller than they actually are. This translates into accent chairs that have:

Exposed Silhouettes.

A silhouette that emphasizes structure over cushioning tricks your eye into seeing the chair as smaller than it actually is. Take the Levo chair for example. Because of its frame-dominant design, your gaze slips through its low, open backrest and naked, unupholstered limbs. (But not before you take a cheeky peek, of course.) In turn, your room appears less crowded.

Open Arms.

In small spaces, you want to feel liberated, not confined. Your dad’s ol’ lazy boy might wrap you right ‘round, but those arms impose visual boundaries that overwhelm a small space. Armless chairs, like the Twirl chair, welcome your eye in rather than blocking out sightlines with a squared off design.

The Embrace rocking chair's low arms allow for more visual fluidity in this small, sweet nursery.

The Embrace rocking chair‘s low arms allow for more visual fluidity in Ave Styles’ small, sweet nursery.

All the Right Curves.

In all the right places. Chairs with rounded corners take up the same usable space as boxy pieces, but because of their curves they have a smaller visual footprint. The Savary chair’s curvy, generous back, for example, still offers a full seat and complete lumbar support while cutting the corners.

A Low Lying Build.

Just as high ceilings create the illusion of more space, low-lying furniture creates the illusion of higher ceilings. Thus, accent chairs that hang close to the ground economize rooms vertically. Using this tactic, you can even get away with geometric designs. For example, while the Echo chair technically falls into the boxy category, it could still work in a small space because it’s short, stout, and doesn’t consume space with a tall back.

Light Upholstery.

Airy tones, pale neutrals, and soft naturals lighten up a room. And light equals space, which is precisely the wizardry we’re going for. By choosing accent chairs in powdery hues, you can even break away from some of the other tenants. There’s nothing slight about the Sven’s silhouette. But in birch ivory, the Sven can transform a corner into a cozy reading nook without swallowing up the room. Another creative way to use color to your condo-living advantage is to match your upholstery to the wall. Using this approach, the chair blends into its surroundings, blurring the line between wall and fabric.

The light seats contrast beautifully with the dark walnut color of the Savis chairs. Shira Gill pulls them up to her desk to get some work done, and then spins them around to entertain company.

The light seats contrast beautifully with the dark walnut color of the Savis chairs. Shira Gill pulls them up to her desk to get some work done, and then spins them around to entertain company.

Your small space is your petite castle and deserves embellishments that make it feel like home. And accent chairs are an easy way to elevate a space while meeting our utilitarian need for an extra seating. By striving for visual balance and exercising a touch of decor strategy, you can live your big design dreams without feeling boxed in by your small space.

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