Home & Garden

Have a seat and consider the perfect chair

Each morning, while it's still dark outside, I pour a cup of strong coffee, snuggle into my favorite chair and mentally prepare for the day. No matter how haywire things may go, the day always starts out right, thanks to my comfy chair.

I asked Beth and Rich, interior designers on the Nell Hill's team, to join me in sharing secrets you can use to pick the perfect chair.

First determine what role it will play in your home and in your life. Where will the chair be located, and how will it be used?

"If the chair is mostly to be looked at, then your selection should be style-driven," Rich suggests. "But if it's in a family room, you want comfort and function."

Who will be sitting in it on a regular basis? Rarely do I find a chair that fits both a man, woman and child perfectly, so my advice is to choose the person who gets dibs on the chair and select one that fits him or her just right.

It's essential for your new chair to be proportionate to the other furnishings in the room. We love to mix styles, fabrics and finishes when we furnish rooms at Nell Hill's, but the scale of all the pieces has to match or the room just won't work.

Don't settle for anything less than a high-quality piece. Poorly made furnishings may look great on the showroom floor, flashing their seductively low price tags, but after going 10 rounds with your family, pets and guests, their beauty will quickly fade and you'll be left with a "bargain" that creeks and sags, is split and warped.

But when you invest in a high-quality piece, your chair will look brand-new for years. Make sure the chair seat deck has eight-way, hand-tied steel coils that are supported by polypropylene and steel strapping. See that the frames are made of kiln-dried hardwoods and that the joints are double-doweled, with every corner blocked, screwed and glued.

Here are a few questions to help you focus your search:

* What type of cushions do you want? Seat cushions are a lot like mattresses — some people like them firm and others want them sink-into soft.

* Do you want a chair with a tight back or cushion back?

* How high do you want the back of the chair to reach? High enough to rest your head against or low enough to see over?

* How wide and deep should the seat be? Some people like wider chairs so they can tuck their legs under them.

* How high do you want the arms to be? A lot of folks love English-club chairs with arms perfectly positioned to allow you to read the newspaper.

* Skirt or exposed legs? Unless you're just crazy about skirts, I recommend getting a chair without one because fabric skirts get dirty easily. For variety, I like to fill my rooms with chairs that have a wide assortment of leg styles and finishes.

How do you sit in your chair at home? Assume the same position at the furniture store. Throw your legs over the arm, tuck them under you or snuggle into your favorite nap position. If you don't feel so comfortable that you hate to get up, the chair is probably not the one for you.