Mad About . . .

Why an armchair is more important than a sofa

2nd July 2020
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At the start of lockdown I wrote about why I think a Persian rug is a must have item in any home, not least because they work in any space and with any style, but also because they don’t show the dirt – the red wine spills and weetabix mush. I also wrote about the vital role of the coffee table and why it’s the second most important important piece of furniture in your house and today I thought I would muse on armchairs.

mid century modern chairs upholstered in Orla Keily Jade Spot fabric in the library of Madaboutthehouse.com

my mid-century modern Jindrich Halabala chairs from ebay upholstered in Orla Keily Jade Spot fabric

You see the thing about an armchair is that you can fully claim it as yours. Not so the sofa which you have to share. Now The Mad Husband and I clearly have our ends (same as we have our sides of the bed) but when the teenage sons come in (rarely I know) all hell can break loose. And of course guests must be allowed to sit where they wish….

isaac chair from loveyourhome

isaac chair from love your home

So the armchair. This is where you can make your own nest. Anyone who has seen Frasier, the spin-off from Cheers, will familiar with his father’s green and brown striped recliner which is so at odd with Frasier’s repro Coco Chanel sofa, which he so proudly claims as a remake of the one the French designer had in her apartment at the Ritz.

seattle armchair from pure white lines

seattle armchair from pure white lines 

I have also just finished (and heartily recommend) Curtis Sittenfeld’s latest book Rodham, a novel based around the idea that Hillary Rodham didn’t marry Bill Clinton, in which Hillary describes making her nest every night – a comfy place of cushions with a book, a notepad, latterly a computer and a glass of wine or drink all within reach.

yeti chair by timothy oulton at heals

yeti chair by timothy oulton at heals

An armchair can be your nest. Pick one that you find enormously comfortable. Are you a feet up or down kind of person? Do you want a large love seat kind of a affair or a narrow wing back that will hug you? Will it have wide arms for resting drinks and laptops or narrow wooden ones that allow the light to pass through and are more sleek and modern in look?

lina mexicana chair from graham and green

lina mexicana chair from graham & green

Patterned or plain? Squishy or firm? Add a side table and a task light – either floor or table – and build your own nest. Perfect for working from home or relaxing once the work has returned to the office and safe in the knowledge that, marauding guests aside, the cushions will remain squashed to the exact shape of your back next time you sink into it.

And that, is why an armchair is more important than a sofa.

cooper yellow armchair from habitat

cooper yellow armchair from habitat 


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  • Zedhouses 18th July 2020 at 1:45 pm

    That armchairs are so stylish and unique. Velvet armchairs and sofas are so trendy this year. Zedhouses has some similar armchairs but we need more. Keep following your posts. 🙂

  • Laura 6th July 2020 at 9:35 pm

    I wonder if you could do a post about the classic English armchair, like the Howard? Instead of buying new, would love to get an antique armchair, but would like some guidance regarding the hallmarks of those classic chairs and tips for buying.

  • Marianne 3rd July 2020 at 5:06 pm

    Great inspiration. Today I bought a very pretty armchair – perfect for reading my favourite books!

  • pam 3rd July 2020 at 2:27 am

    My husband thought me crazy (more than usual) twice:

    #1. when I declared the patch of land surrounding our home *grass free* (we established gardens all around)

    #2. when I said “to hell with the couch!”

    We have a house that is the perfect size for the two of us and the pets…but I always felt that the couch occupied too much real estate.

    Our current perfect set up is: two 70s chrome and leather ekornes recliners & ottomans (we bought them for close to nothing!). Between the chairs there is a large squared 70s table with hand made tiles on the top (can place hot items like tea and coffee pots without damage). Under said table we hid a dog bed for our largest dog who is petrified of storms and that is her safe place between us. On the outer ends by our chairs we placedpa, Kartell round tables (the round ones with the sliding doors) and that’s were we keep our personal items, remotes, etc.

    I can tell you with absolute certainty that the hubby does not miss the lawn (and having to mow it three times a month) nor the big couch which was always crowded with the pets 🙂 no more!

    • Kate Watson-Smyth 3rd July 2020 at 1:20 pm

      I love this!

      • pam 4th July 2020 at 3:45 am

        We do too! No need to furnish your home with the same equations that apply to others! I adore your blog and your insightful writing xoxoxo

  • Serena Pitchers 2nd July 2020 at 2:26 pm

    I used to think that, and an armchair is essential for guests, but for the sake of a good relationship, room to cuddle on a sofa is a recipe to stop complacency setting in. We have made it a recent rule to not allow the dog to sit between us, she’s not impressed.

  • Ellen Reed 2nd July 2020 at 1:33 pm

    I agree with Pamela….sane-ish.

  • Anna Noble 2nd July 2020 at 12:14 pm

    An armchair is more important than a sofa because the day will come when try as you might, you can’t easily get up from a sofa. You need to push yourself up using the sides of an armchair!!

  • claire 2nd July 2020 at 8:38 am

    This is so timely thank you! I have been agonising on whether to allocate my budget to an armchair or sofa – roughly the same in price so you tend to think the sofa would be better value for money (?) There is also a tendency to think of an armchair as a sort of “trophy piece” in the corner which may not get used. But I really want an armchair….gah!

  • Pamela Farnworth 2nd July 2020 at 7:16 am

    Love your articles Kate – they’re keeping me sane ish. Thankyou

    • Rachel Chavez 4th July 2020 at 9:47 pm

      When we bought our new living room furniture I insisted on a wide snuggle armchair just for me to use as a reading chair. It is in the corner with a lovely floor lamp and side table with flowers. Oh, and my own throw that no one else is allowed to touch!

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