Chairs and Benches Buyers Guide

Chairs and benches are more than mere furniture for sitting down; in essence, they serve as a refuge for the weary. They are a symbol of rest and comfort, a place to recharge the body. 

Of course, they also have aesthetic purposes just as they have functional purposes. Sitting furniture can really go far in tying a space together as they convey a sense of gathering.

Different Types of Chairs & Benches

Armchair

The armchair is not the humblest of chairs as they are a common sight in royal or fancier homes. Usually made of high-quality wood and furnished with leather, cotton, or fine silk, this type of chair is characterised by the two arms on both sides. Perfect for placing in a study, a den, or just beside the fireplace.

Wing Chair

Wing chairs are more or less the same as armchairs, except for one specific detail – they have side panels attached to the back. These side panels have been adapted into the design for a specific function, which is to protect the sitter from drafts. The side panels also help collect heat from the fireplace, making it the perfect place for a comfy nap.

Aeron Chair

This type of chair is a common sight, especially in office spaces. Usually made of metal, leather and net material, Aeron chairs have excellent back support specifically designed for long periods of sitting. It also usually comes with wheels for mobility and height adjustments, making it a perfect choice for home offices and the like.

Ball Chair

Chicer than most, the ball chair is the interior designer’s best friend. The ball chair is characterised by a concave shape resembling a ball from most angles and its interior is lined with soft fabric and material for a cosy fit.

Bubble Chair

Similarly designed as the ball chair, bubble chairs also share the round spherical shape. However, the bubble chair is a type of its own for two main reasons. Firstly, it is shaped by a crystal-clear fibreglass shell fitted with leather or cotton cushions. Secondly, it is suspended in the air by a chain, making it swing and gives you a unique seating experience.

Bean Bag Chair

This entry can be debated on whether or not it belongs here, but it cannot be denied that bean bag chairs are one of the comfiest seating options in the list. They are basically giant bean bags made of leather or cotton, then filled with fibre beans. Bean bag chairs are gaining popularity for rooms that need a casual touch.

Chaise Lounge

Quite different from the rest, a chaise is a long piece of furniture that you can rest your legs on. The chair is usually designed with a semi-reclining back and a waving surface, which urges the sitter to a position between sitting and lying down. This chair is not suitable for people in a waiting room, but instead, should be placed by the pool or anywhere scenic for relaxation.

Storage Bench

A storage bench is an indoor type of bench that works functionally as it does aesthetically. The storage bench is characterised by a storage space underneath. Usually, it is designed more or less as a trunk with a cushioned lid where you can simply take the lid off to keep things in while putting the lid back on makes it act as a bench.

Cushioned Bench

A cushioned bench is a typical type of bench one can place against a wall or in a sitting area. This bench can be made of wood or metal and can be plain or lavishly adorned. The versatility of this piece of furniture is limited by the interior designer’s imagination.

Materials

Wood

Wooden chairs and benches are perfect for those looking for an earthy and rustic feel. Getting a sense of nature, wooden sitting furniture is versatile in a way that it can be simple for a minimalist look, or it can be lavishly engraved for an antique feel.

Although it typically lasts long, the wooden material makes it more ephemeral than other chairs of different materials, because unless the wood is treated with all kinds of chemicals, it would need high maintenance against ageing, insects and water damage.

Aluminium

Chairs and benches made from aluminium make for lightweight, corrosion-free and often affordable, as well. A good choice for modern designs, an aluminium chair or bench gives the place a clean look because of the shiny metallic material.

Fiberglass

Fiberglass is gaining popularity as a choice material for its versatility and affordability. Fiberglass seating options are perfect for either the indoors or outdoors and they are pretty lightweight, yet durable.

Concrete

Not an option for most, concrete chairs and benches are for committed people since it is a permanent decision. More often for outdoor chairs and benches, concrete furniture is perfect for gardens and parks.

Styles

Chair Backs

Most of the different designs and styles of chairs come from the design of the back of the chair and fortunately, there are a lot to choose from. A Windsor chair has an arching back lined with vertical rods.

A Bentwood, as the name implies, looks like the back is composed of “bent wood” with rounded back supports. The Mission chair, on the other hand, gets its roots from the 19th-century design of vertical segments.

The Ladder Back can be contrasted to a Windsor by having horizontal rods which almost looks like a ladder. Lastly, an X-back is basically self-explanatory with structures designed diagonally against each other to form an “X.”

Arms

Chairs and benches can either have arms or not. This little design feature is more than for functionality, although armrests are indeed convenient. While arms on chairs can either look antique or modern, benches look more modern and chic without arms.

Upholstery

Upholstery is a feature for both chairs and benches and it basically means whether or not the furniture is lined and covered with some sort of fabric. While non-upholstered options look cleaner and more streamlined, upholstered chairs and benches are more comfortable to sit on.

Themes

Themes are important in making a room look good and if you enjoy decorating, then you’ll be happy to know there are so many themes to choose from. A modern theme embraces clean and straight lines and minimalist designs.

A rustic theme is a sort of homage to the outdoors with rough materials and designs, while an industrial theme makes use of stainless steel and brick for that sense of strength and durability. You may also opt for nationality-based themes for styled chairs and benches.

Factors to Consider

Comfort

This may not be the first thing designers look for, but in the long run, comfort is one of the most important; because what’s the use of a chair or bench if you cannot sit on it for a long period of time without complaining?

Comfort is decided by whether or not your seat is upholstered and if it has good back support. The shape of the back and the height of the seat are also factors to consider when it comes to comfort.

Style

More often than not, a chair or bench is not the first thing you buy for a room, because who would decorate a room around a chair? Knowing this, you have to get a chair with a style that corresponds to that of the room it will be designated to.

This is an important factor because if you get an eyesore of a chair, it will hurt you every time you pass by it, even if you don’t sit on it.

Maintenance

If you don’t want to be taking care of your chairs and benches that much, then be sure to get low-maintenance seats. Simple metal, aluminium, or fibreglass seats are on the low-maintenance side, while upholstery and wood are on the high-maintenance side.

Care and Cleaning

Upholstery

For upholstered chairs and benches, it is important to clean and care for the upholstery to keep them looking nice and inviting. Although you are able to clean the upholstery by yourself, it is highly recommended that you have them professionally cleaned just in case.

The upholstery must be periodically dusted and brushed, while on the other hand, it is not recommended to vacuum the upholstery. Make sure to take note of the material of the upholstery because the cleaning instructions for leather is not the same for cotton.

Wood

Of all the different materials used in making chairs and benches, wood is by far the most high-maintenance of them all. Coming from a natural source, wood will need a lot of tender loving care to bring out the best in it.

It is recommended to polish the wooden surfaces every quarter of the year to keep the wood looking new. Protective pads on the bottom of the feet protect both the furniture and the floor from scratches. Humidity must be kept in check because excess atmospheric moisture can be detrimental to wood.

Stains

Whenever something is spilt on a chair or bench, act quickly to remove the stain because the sooner the better. Clean accordingly depending on the material of the cushion or the upholstery.