The debate continues between husbands and wives about how to mix his and her tastes, and one of the common requests by husbands (yes I’m generalizing!) is the placement of a big ol’ recliner smack dab in front of a giant screen. I’ll admit, there’s something comforting about the feeling of certain cushioning recliners for the television and movie watching experience, but the look? I’ll just say it: I’m not a fan. Raise your hand if you’re with me.
Kathy M. recently wrote to this to me. “How can I incorporate a leather recliner in a design plan for my main living area? My husband is insistent!” I invited contributing writer and interior designer Courtney of Courtney Out Loud to tackle this topic, please welcome him back with his thoughts on the issue of recliners in interior decorating.
“I don’t think I have ever met anyone who has ever said they want their home to be an uncomfortable and uninviting place. Mind you, that everyone has a different concept of what that is, but I think I can safely say that home is where we all go at the end of the day to kick off your shoes, let down your hair, and relax.
So it comes as little surprise when clients come to me and ask for interiors that exemplify those ideals of comfort. Kate came to me with a question from one of her readers on how to integrate a recliner into her home, I had a moment of pause. To be honest, I still have flashbacks of the large, over-stuffed leather recliners that seemed to dominate the 70s and 80s living rooms. To me, they exemplify an overly relaxed way of addressing a client’s need for comfort.
However, I firmly believe you can still have a place to put up your feet without sacrificing style. Incorporating a recliner into your room is simple as these rules: Reimagine It, Scale It, or Forget It.
Reimagine It. Canadian designer Meredith Heron, believes that recliners can work in any space but they shouldn’t look like recliners. "I use recliners in many of my rooms" states Heron. "But I do them all custom which allows me the greatest control." In the example below, Heron reimagined the traditional leather recliner as a pair of streamlined, velvet club chairs that flow effortlessly into her pale grey and cream palette.
Stephen Tomar and Stuart Lampert of Tomar Lampert Associates followed a similar approach to Heron in creating the pair of channel back recliners in the serene shade that serves as the focal point in a monochromatic room.
Takeaway: If budget allows, a custom upholstered recliner allows you to all the creature comforts of a recliner without sacrificing any style (see also some of Kate’s picks below).
Scale It. Typically, I love big things. Huge things. The more oversized the better, as they relate to accessories, artwork and lighting. However, when it comes to furniture, pieces should always be balanced and in scale with the room, which is why I have a hard time with recliners. I find many to be bulky white elephants that clients try to shoehorn into a space. They are the furniture equivalent of bullies, forcing all the other furniture in the space to the edges of the room.
Fortunately, retailers have taken heed and are producing some fantastically sleek and deliciously modern takes on recliners. Mid-century modern lovers will undoubtedly love the classic lines of the Milo Baughman Recliner 74 by Design Within Reach. The walnut legs elevate the body of the chair making it less bulky than its current counterparts and the wispy arms along with the elongated back create a frame that is less ballerina than lumbering lumberjack. The sense of lightness and airiness of the piece isn’t overpowering and won’t overwhelm a room.