Though lounge chairs get the most love (which isn’t totally misguided—they’re very comfy), accent chairs tend to get overlooked. They may not be the best spots for cuddling up with a good book, but their aesthetic contribution to a room and prime function for socializing are seriously underrated. What they lack in plush coziness, they make up for in sculptural beauty, making them a visual focal point that can upgrade your entire look. Plus, they don’t take up much space and provide upright seats ideal for conversation while entertaining. If you’re not convinced, take a peep at the following accent chair styles that just might make you reconsider the term “occasional seating.”
Famous for its presence on movie sets, the director’s chair is actually a descendant of the Ancient Roman curule seat. The two share a similar foldable, X-shaped base, but the quintessential filmmaker’s perch has evolved into a style of its own. In the late 1800s, the Gold Medal Camp Furniture company introduced the version we still use today, which features a wood frame and canvas slings for both the back and the seat. Lightweight and easily transportable, it brings the essence of old Hollywood into any space.
The Louis accent chair is technically a category that encompasses three different upholstered styles. Each Louis chair is a derivative of the previous one and originated with the French monarchy. The throne-like Louis XIV chair is named for the 17th-century Sun King who expanded Versailles to the gilded wonderland it is today. It features a dramatic Baroque silhouette with a rectangular, upright back, long wood armrests that extend to the front edge of the seat, and legs connected with H-shaped stretchers.
A relic of the first half of the 18th century, the Louis XV chair is more relaxed, curvy, and comfortable. It represents the Rococo period in European art, with rounded, slightly reclined backs framed in intricately carved wood, short armrests, and angled cabriole legs.
The Louis XVI chair was the reigning look in the second half of the 18th century, right before the French Revolution. It’s a neoclassical style with an emphasis on clean lines and geometric shapes, which explains the straight fluted legs that resemble columns, oval or shield-shaped backs, and scrolled armrests that meet the front of the seat once again.
Known for its sleek, armless silhouette, the slipper chair is a low-slung, upholstered style that dates back to the Victorian era when posh women would sit on them to put on their shoes (hence the “slipper” moniker) in their dressing rooms. In the 1950s, American interior designer Billy Baldwin brought slipper chairs into living rooms to serve their fated purpose as a prime entertaining seat that’s comfortable, versatile, and able to fit easily into small spaces and tight corners.
With two curved wooden bands attached to the legs, the rocking chair can move back and forth in an endless, soothing motion. The early 18th-century design is sometimes credited to Benjamin Franklin, but historians believe it was invented when he was just a child. Often made of wood or wicker, it’s been a must-have for new parents for centuries (but we think it’s a calming seat for adults sans-baby, as well).
Named for the English town of Windsor, Berkshire where it was first widely produced, this traditional chair was popularized in the 18th century. The style made its way to the United States around that time, too, which is why it’s associated with Americana design. Its solid wood seat is carved with a divot for comfort, while the turned legs and comb-back spindles are round-tenoned.