One Kings Lane contacted me and asked if I'd like to post about a favorite chair in my house to help introduce their Complete Guide to Modern Chairs, and I thought why not? I think it's great when companies help educate consumers about design and finding a style that works for each person...because you know what? It's hard. Even for those of us who are design conscious, pinpointing exactly what you want in a piece of furniture and then somehow making it work with other pieces of furniture in the same room (and on a budget) is challenging. Whether you've just moved into a new place or you simply want to change up your existing decor, identifying characteristics of different styles will help you decide what you like and guide you in your design.
Chairs are a really good place to start because they are frequently hallmarks of different design eras, with defined characteristics, and you need them in almost every room, right? So, I'll tell you a little bit about finding our chairs, the design elements I was looking for, and how I made them work in our home.
Visually, I like the silhouette of this chair a lot. If you look at the top photo again, you can see how the angle of the rear legs mirrors the angle of the back. That is a handsome silhouette if you ask me. And I knew that the scale and lines of this chair would work with our dining table, which has an iron base with architectural lines of its own. I wanted warm wood chairs that would complement the table, but not compete with it.
So enough about me and my chairs. How do you know what you like? First and foremost, I would say to look at the lines of the chair: the legs, the shape and height of the back, the feet (if there are any). Do you like the overall silhouette? Look at the materials, colors, pattern, finish. Is it something you can live with long term? A chair is an investment, and you want a quality piece of furniture in a style that can work in a variety of settings. It's easy to change paint colors, artwork, and accessories, but unless you are working with an unlimited budget, most chairs will need to be loved and used for a long time.
Think about the other furniture in the room. How will it fit in? Antique pieces and modern furniture can work together. It's about balance, scale, and finding lines that are harmonious. For example, we have a very old iron bed that came from my great grandmother's house that's painted a warm white. I wanted contemporary dressers for storage, so we chose these simple Sveio chests from IKEA. Staying in the same color family, with simple lines, helps these furniture pieces from different generations get along nicely. If you have a family heirloom dining table that's solid wood with heavy turned legs, think about balancing that with an appropriately scaled contemporary chair. In that instance, my dining chairs would not work because they would seem much too small, even dainty, by comparison. Upholstered chairs often have a little more heft as well as slightly curvier lines that can complement and even "lighten" a heavier table (if upholstered in a lighter fabric).
It's helpful to take pictures of furniture you're contemplating and place them side by side. Do the colors and materials complement each other? And don't forget to measure before you buy...not just to make sure furniture sizes will work together but to make sure they are appropriately scaled for the room. Also, I've seen many people order sofas only to find they won't fit on the elevator in their building or even through the front door! That is no bueno.
I think everyone has a style; some people just need a little help discovering that style. If you find yourself wanting a change, take a peek at the Complete Guide to Modern Chairs and see if anything speaks to you. You might be a Bauhaus lover at heart and not know it. Or at the very least, it might help you identify what you don't like and then work from there.
I realize that was a lot of information for one post, so if anyone has any questions, please feel free to ask away in the comments. I don't claim to be an expert on all things design, but I did get a Master's Degree in Interior Design once upon a time, and maybe I should use it every now and then. ;)
Also, since I was taking photos of the dining room for this post, I decided to take a few more and do a proper dining room update post. It's been sooo long since the last one. So look for that in a couple of days. xo, Mary