Confession time: I’ve made some major interior design mistakes before. Instead of letting them bum me out, I’m choosing to learn from them and share them with you so that you don’t make the same mistakes I did! I’ve purchased a lot of furniture for myself and my clients over the years, and here’s what I wish I’d known about buying accent chairs.
What I Wish I’d Known About Buying Accent Chairs
See these beautiful cognac leather wing chairs? I LOVE THEM. The leather is buttery soft and perfectly distressed, the nailheads are antiqued just enough to look legit, and the high back and wings are beautifully proportioned.
All of those things I was able to discover with material samples, online images, and detailed dimensions.
But what I didn’t do before buying these chairs was butt test them.
No Butt Test = No Bueno
While I thought I did my due diligence by ordering samples and confirming measurements, what I didn’t do was get my body into a showroom or store to actually sit in these chairs.
What I would have discovered is that while beautiful, they’re very upright – and I was hoping for a chair that was a bit more relaxed and slouchy. The nailheads down the wings and arms look great, but they hurt a bit when you rest your arms on them! While these chairs would be amazing for a more formal living room, I like to curl up and read and these chairs don’t quite do it for me.
I always recommend trying out seating in person before purchasing.
If you’re buying accent chairs, or a sofa, or another piece of upholstery, it’s worth the time and effort to see if a local store or showroom has one on the floor that you can test before purchasing. Everyone likes different things about their seating – firm or soft seat cushions, loose or tight back cushions, a square or scooped arm. The best way to tell if a piece of furniture is right for you, your lifestyle, and your needs is to sit in it and see how you feel. You’ll know right away if it’s the right piece for you.
But what if a Butt Test Isn’t Possible?
I’ve purchased most of my furniture (and so have most of my clients) without getting to sit in it first. It’s not always possible to get your booty into a furniture sample, especially if you don’t live near the vendor you’re ordering from, or the piece is being custom-made for you. Here’s what I recommend instead.
3 Tips for Buying Accent Chairs Online:
- Carefully read reviews. Look for comments that talk about fit, comfort, and durability of the piece. Take outlying complainers with a grain of salt – but if you see several comments about one particular aspect of the chair, pay attention.
- Measure an existing piece of furniture that you have and love, and compare measurements. If your current accent chair has a seat depth of 22″ but the one you’re planning to order is only 20″ deep, it might be too shallow to be comfortable for you.
- Pay attention to how the chair is constructed. Quality construction often means a more comfortable piece of furniture (although not always, as some of that is just personal preference about measurements and proportions). Here’s a quick guide to common terms you’ll hear when it comes to upholstered furniture construction.
I’m not usually into pastels, but I’m bonkers in love with this blush and grey girls’ bedroom moodboard. (I mean, seriously, that tufted velvet sofa is amazeballs!)
This moodboard was part of a Design Kit for a fave client’s tween daughter and stepdaughter. You might have noticed on the Pinterest board below that the selections are from online retailers you’re probably already familiar with. With a DIY Design Kit we stick with retail vendors to make it easy for our clients to shop the selections on their own; and for our Design Comprehensive clients we source a lot more trade-only and custom pieces since we handle all the ordering.
I love being able to equip my cool clients with everything they need to create a kickass room – a design plan, moodboard, shopping links, floor plans, elevation drawings, and swatches. It takes the fear and guesswork out of design. You already know it’s gonna look stellar before you buy a single pillow!
It’s a good thing I really love my home office. Because if I weren’t so crazy about it, I would totally be stealing every single design element in this warm and modern home office with dark teal walls. Yes. You heard me. DARK. TEAL. WALLS.
Ugggh. This space is going to look so good when it all comes together!
This home office design is a Design Kit
created for a cool client here in Waco. She currently works from home with beige walls, beige carpet, and a queen-size bed jammed into her modest office space. Not exactly great for space planning or productivity, right?
The first order of business
was to remove the bulky queen bed and install a space-saving wall bed instead. This way, the room can be converted into a guest space on rare occasions, but has so much more room to function primarily as an office.
To jazz up the bookshelves with a metallic pop
I selected my favorite metallic wallpaper for the back of the shelves. I love the way a fun pattern makes a basic bookshelf feel complete and well-styled with minimal effort.
It’s not shown in the moodboard above,
but we selected a lot of cool art for the space, ranging from limited-edition framed art prints to a hilarious illustration of various breeds of dogs wearing glasses. Because if you can’t make work fun, it’s going to totally suck to be in that office every day. This room doesn’t have a large footprint but does have 12′ ceilings, so creating a colorful gallery wall above the desk will create a cool focal point and also use the height of the room to our advantage.
I love seeing these DIY Design Kits come to life.
We design, our clients make the magic happen! If you’re interested in your own custom DIY Design Kit you can find out more here.
My first apartment boasted a hand-me-down beige plaid sofa from my grandparents, a structurally unstable bed purchased from IKEA, and was shared with my suuuuper messy ex-boyfriend. As an interior designer and neat-freak, let’s just say these were not my ideal living conditions.
I never thought I’d be jealous of two boys under the age of 10, but let me tell you, their mom hired me create a Design Kit for the coolest kids playroom that puts my first apartment to shame. This spare bedroom was a majorly under-utilized space that needed to become a playroom, video game hangout, homework space, and guest room all in one.
An awesome orange sleeper sectional is the bold and badass centerpiece of the room, and it’s where the boys and their friends will get comfy to play video games (and wrestle and build forts and stuff). We swapped the totally impractical double closet doors for a pair of curtain panels mounted on a tension rod which freed up the floor space to add a hip industrial desk big enough for both kids to share. And if they can’t share, there’s a laptop table for some extra work space.
The boys are also getting a major bedroom and bathroom makeover too, in their favorite team’s colors of orange and grey. I’m not a fan of literal theme rooms (no sports logos here!) but taking inspiration from the colors and styles of a favorite sports team, book, or movie is an awesome starting point when designing a space for kids.
Should you reupholster – or not? A couple of years ago I chose to reupholster a loveseat for my master bedroom, thinking it would be a delightfully inexpensive way to transform a basic piece of furniture into something badass. Well, that loveseat definitely got a badass transformation – but it wasn’t inexpensive!
There’s a lot I’ve learned about design choices whether it’s been in design school, while working for other designers, while running my own interior design firm, and while designing my own home. Here’s what I’ve learned (and what I wish I’d known) about deciding whether or not to reupholster a piece of furniture:
Can’t view the embedded video above? Click here. Prefer to read? Transcript is below.
Hey everyone, Lesley Myrick here – interior stylist and owner of Lesley Myrick Art + Design where we create some pretty awesome interiors with an offbeat edge.
I want to talk to you today about reupholstering,
and whether or not it’s a good idea to reupholster an existing chair, sofa, loveseat, whatever it might be. So here’s the thing with reupholstering. People often think it’s gonna be less expensive than just getting a new piece.
Sometimes it is, but not always.
I encountered this in my own home working on a project. We bought this cool vintage loveseat and thought it would be a fairly affordable project to reupholster it. What blew me away is that by the time we paid for the loveseat, we bought fabric for it, bought foam, paid an upholsterer to do a great job, all these things started to add up and before I knew it my “inexpensive” loveseat project cost more than a new one probably would have.
So here’s my thoughts on whether or not to reupholster something:
If you have a piece of furniture that is quality-made, you love the form, it’s comfortable, it’s beautiful – it’s probably going to be worth the investment to you to have it reupholstered versus letting it go and trying to find something comparable brand-new.
If you have a piece of furniture that has a story to it, that has history, or there’s something about it you connect with whether it’s just how it looks or how it feels to you, I think that is a great opportunity to take something existing and to give it new life with new fabric.
However if you think reupholstery is just going to be the less expensive option, it isn’t always. On something simple like a dining chair where you’re reupholstering the seat, that’s an easy, affordable project and that’s one I recommend my clients do a lot if they already have great dining chairs and the fabric just needs a little refresh.
But when it comes to a larger piece of upholstery like a sofa, loveseat, or big chair,
don’t do it because you think it’s going to be affordable. Do it because you love the piece and you want to transform it and give it new life.
So there you go. A few quick thoughts about reupholstering – or not!
I gravitate towards interior design that blends and layers contrasting design styles, and this industrial-meets-french-eclectic master bedroom for a client in Houston, TX is no exception. When one half of the couple is into traditional, feminine French furnishings, and the other half prefers a cleaner, industrial look, my job (which I freakin’ love) is to merge and balance the two into one happy design plan.
This bedroom is gigantic and scale was mega-important when making design selections. The king-size bed needed large nightstands to feel balanced (these awesome faceted ones are actually chests of drawers so they’re quite generous in size) and the wing chairs needed some height to feel proportionate to the ultra-high ceilings. While this moodboard might look a little busy at first glance, when these furnishings are placed in the actual room there will be a lot more visual “breathing room” around everything. I can’t wait to see how this space comes together IRL.
Working virtually with clients on a Design Kit is a kickass option if you’re not in the Waco area, as everything is done via email and Zoom video calls. Clients provide measurements and photos of the rooms to be designed and answers to our Design Dossier questionnaire; you’ll receive a digital Design Kit with everything you need (like floor plans, moodboards, paint colors, furnishings selections, and finish samples) to completely transform a room as your time and budget allows.