The best armchairs you can buy and where to shop for them

  • Armchairs come in all shapes and sizes, from large overstuffed behemoths that command the room and deliver big on comfort to slim accent chairs that add color and style.
  • When shopping for an armchair, it's as important to know where it will be placed in a room as it is to consider how it will mesh with the rest of your room's decor.
  • West Elm is out top pick for armchair sellers because the brand's high-end selection has seating for every type of interior style, from the midcentury modern to the casual country to the sleek Scandinavian design.

Before we talk about the best armchairs you can buy, let's take a step back and talk about armchairs more broadly. What is an armchair, exactly? After more extensive research than I care to admit, I came to a rousing conclusion: It's a chair with arms. The word "armchair" is an umbrella term for chairs with arms.

A recliner? That's an armchair. An executive desk chair with armrests? That's an armchair. A dining room chair with arms? Armchair.

Being that the armchair is such an amorphous term, really, rather than suggesting a few of the best armchairs you can buy, we'll be looking at a few of the best places to buy armchairs, while also highlighting a few of our favorite pieces.

Knowing where to shop for armchairs means first knowing where the chair you ultimately buy will go. Is it the man cave, the sitting room, the living room, or somewhere else?

Once you know where the chair is going, the next step is to consider the rest of the furniture and decor that's already in place. Seeing as many armchairs are large, attention-commanding objects, you don't want to risk choosing one that will throw off the aesthetic of the space. Also, you don't want to buy an armchair that won't fit in terms of its physical size, either.

Assuming you have considered the space, the style, and the proportions, then it's time to start shopping for a great armchair. Here are five companies where you're sure to find just that.

Here are the best armchairs of 2019 and where to buy them:

Keep scrolling to check out our top picks.

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The best overall

The best overall
West Elm makes a wide selection of attractive, modern chairs in classic designs that are both comfortable to sit in and beautiful to look at.

West Elm has a wide selection of armchairs in a variety of styles, ranging from super modern to classic. The least expensive chairs West Elm sells cost around $150 and the most expensive ones can cost $1,000 or more, but the average chair costs between $500 and $700.

I tried the $599 Crescent Swivel Chair and the $699 Contour Mid-Century Chair from West Elm, and I love them. They represent two very different looks from the company.

The Swivel Chair is very modern, entirely unique, and effortlessly stylish. The fabric is soft to the touch and comes in several fun colors, including a great horseradish yellow. It smoothly swivels and spins around, making it a great chair for a conversational cluster in any living room.

In contrast, the Contour Mid-century Modern Chair is a simple classic chair with a dark, warm wood frame and a sleek silhouette. The fabric of the chair comes in two nice colors: teal and wheat. It looks modern and timeless — My grandmother had a similar chair from Sweden that she brought with her to the US in the '60s.

It's also incredibly comfortable. The little pillow headrest hits in just the right spot for comfort, the sloped seat makes you want to put our feet up, and the armrests are just the right width at the elbows.

Neither of these chairs is terribly expensive nor very cheap. At $599 and $699, they're moderately priced for such fine, well-made furniture. It's important to note that some of the fancier made in USA chairs can cost upwards of $1,000. However, West Elm also regularly has sales and discounts, so you're likely to find a good deal on these chairs and the dozens of others on offer.

Delivery for large furniture costs $139 to $299, depending on where you live in relation to the nearest West Elm store, so it is something to keep in mind. — Malarie Gokey

Pros: Wide selection, mid-century modern style, good materials

Cons: Expensive

Shop all West Elm armchairs for $150 to $2,000 (average price is $600)

The best budget armchairs

The best budget armchairs
Just like Amazon has done with books, shoes, bicycles, cameras, headphones, basketballs, and everything else, Amazon has made it affordable to shop for armchairs.

Amazon has already made it cheap and easy to shop for microwaves, snowboards, fishing rods, parkas, kayaks, and candy bars, so why wouldn't the retailer have a huge selection of affordable armchairs? When you type "armchair" into the Amazon search bar, you get more than 2,000 results, many of which are quite affordable.

Amazon even has its own in-house brands like Rivet and Stone & Beam, which sell very attractive furniture for good prices. We've tried both in-house brands' furniture and loved it.

As our editor Sally Kaplan writes: "Rivet, with its up-to-date designs based on the popular mid-century modern style, offers more affordable takes inspired by the classic Hans Wegner and George Nelson originals we all wish we could afford. The aesthetic is slightly industrial, featuring bold brass finishes, walnut wood, black steel accents, and lots of cognac leather, plus gentle grays and navy blues. Many of the individual pieces are still warm enough to fit seamlessly into essentially any sort of decorative theme, but the shapes and lines tend to skew more angular and masculine."

"Stone & Beam's style is a bit more upscale, with warmer pieces and lighter finishes. The aesthetic leans toward clean, cozy, and slightly rustic — like a farmhouse that's as comfortable and livable as it is picturesque."

Most pieces range from $200 to $500, which is fairly affordable for decent chairs that will last. However, Amazon does have a ton of even more affordable furniture. When you set your price at $100 and under, you still get more than 200 results.

Now, many of the cheap chairs on Amazon are so in terms of price and quality, so don't just find the least expensive seat you can and pull the trigger. Make sure you cross-reference reviews and take a look at the brand itself. A chair that's shoddily made or looks bad in person isn't worth the savings.

That said, as easy as Amazon makes it to order a chair online, the retailer also makes it easy enough to return a purchase with which you're not satisfied — just keep the original packaging intact until you're sure you bought the right seat.

Shoppers who bought a Baxton Studio Sorrento Mid-Century Modern Chair said it was an "excellent value," "totally gorgeous," and "higher quality than its price point would suggest."

People who bought the Sofamania Modern Velvet Accent Shelter Style Armchair for $99.99 called it "comfy and sturdy," "beautiful," and said it provided a "nice pop of color."

And a buyer of the $90 Roundhill Furniture Tuchico Contemporary Fabric Accent Chair called it "a great looking chair for the price [she] paid." — Steven John, Sally Kaplan, & Malarie Gokey

Pros: Many low priced options, fast delivery, easy returns as needed

Cons: Occasional quality issues with third-party brands

Shop all armchairs on Amazon Shop all armchairs from Amazon's in-house brands Rivet and Stone & Beam

The best classic armchairs

The best classic armchairs
If you can't find an armchair that fits your space and your style at Crate & Barrel, you should probably give up on this type of furniture generally and stick to couches.

So you have a downtown apartment appointed in 1960s "Mad Men"-esque style? No problem, Crate & Barrel has a dozen armchairs that will match. Or what's that, you have a richly furnished Craftsman style home? OK, that's fine, too, the company has multiple options that will work with Mission decor. Or maybe it's a country home where upholstered prints look great? Yep, they've got it.

Crate & Barrel has a broad selection of armchairs. As different as one might be from the next, you can count on all of their chairs to be of high quality. These are lifetime purchases, and with that quality and durability will come a rather hefty price tag. Many chairs cost well in excess of $2,000 and few sell for less than $500, but a great chair anchors the room and, of course, offers a place for comfortable repose, both of which are worth some dollars spent.

A quick perusal of some of the hundreds of reviews left about various Crate & Barrel chairs shows a general consensus: They're excellent. One shopper who bought the timeless Trevor Leather Chair called it "comfortable and stylish" and "so versatile... [it] could go in any style home." Another owner called the Trevor a "great reading chair" with leather that's "soft and buttery."

An owner of two fabric-upholstered Lounge II Chairs called it the "perfect comfy cozy chair." And a Harvey Natural Swivel Armchair customer praised the seat's "aesthetics and function," saying it "is not only pleasing to look at but comfortable." — Steven John

Pros: Great selection, high quality of materials and construction, great customer service

Cons: Quite expensive

Shop all Crate & Barrel armchairs for $349 to $2,999 Buy the Trevor Leather Chair from Crate & Barrel for $2,199 Buy the Lounge II Chair from Crate & Barrel for $949 Buy the Harvey Natural Swivel Armchair from Crate & Barrel for $399

The best recliners

The best recliners
At Macy's, you'll find recliners in all shapes and sizes, including myriad options that don't look like they should recline at all.

If you want a big, overstuffed, super comfortable recliner in which you'll watch the game, read the paper, and often enough doze off, then Macy's has you covered. On the other hand, if you want a recliner that looks like a classical upholstered armchair that doesn't look like it should recline at all, Macy's has you covered there, too. Want an electric recliner with a powered footrest and seatback? There are multiple options. And hey, how about a wooden and leather Mission style armchair recliner? No problem.

Frankly, I was rather surprised by the vast selection of reclining armchairs Macy's offered, but the more I looked through the selection, the more firmly I was convinced that Macy's is a great place to shop for this specific type of furniture.

For people with mobility issues for whom rising out of a chair is a challenge, Macy's has multiple powered lift assist armchair recliners that pitch forward to help lift a person out of the seat or help them ease down into it.

The first armchair recliner that caught my eye as I browsed Macy's also has more than a hundred reviews and ratings online, almost all of which come with five stars. It was the timeless Harrison Leather Pushback Recliner, which one owner called "classy, sturdy, and very comfortable."

In classic recliner style is the Karuse Leather Power Recliner, though with a built-in USB power outlet, it's anything but old fashioned. One owner said using this reclining armchair is "like sitting in a comfortable cloud."

Finally, I was also taken with the Thomas Leather Power Recliner, the ultimate man cave seat thanks to its built-in cup holders, storage compartments under the armrests, and a side table. A shopper named Lala said: "[I] bought two on a whim for Hubby's man cave. He's in Love. This chair has all the bells and whistles and men Love Bells and Whistles. You cannot go wrong with this chair. I highly recommend it."

Just make sure you shop during one of Macy's frequent sales, as its reclining armchairs are by in large quite pricey. Sales and coupons are rather the core of the retailer's business model, so be patient — a deal will come along! — Steven John

Pros: Great selection, many recliners look like ordinary armchairs, excellent customer service

Cons: Expensive when not on sale

Get a Harrison Leather Pushback Recliner from Macy's for $799 Get a Karuse Leather Power Recliner from Macy's for $1,099 Get a Thomas Leather Power Recliner from Macy's for $1,499

The best armchairs from a startup

The best armchairs from a startup
You can customize your own chairs at Burrow and get them shipped for free in a few days' time, but you do have to build the chair.

Burrow is a startup that sells sofas and chairs that arrive on your doorstep unassembled in a bunch of small boxes. You can choose from a few different designs, all of which have a simple, modern style that can fit in with a lot of decor schemes.

Burrow's fabrics are made from stain-resistant olefin, a synthetic polymer, and its wooden frames come from responsibly managed forests in the US that are certified by the Forest Steward Council.

When you design your chair, you can choose the fabric color, armrest height, and the number of seats (if you end up wanting a couch or loveseat). Burrow has a limited color palette, but the shades are fairly neutral and universal. You can choose between Beige, Brick Red, Crushed Gravel, Navy Blue, and Charcoal.

You will have to build your own chair, as the pieces come unassembled, but it's relatively easy to put the chair together. Two reporters on our team tried Burrow's furniture and were able to build it in 10 to 20 minutes.

Perhaps best of all, shipping is free and quite fast — it only takes 2 to 5 business days. And, if you're not happy with the chair, you have 30 days to return it. — Malarie Gokey

Pros: Good quality, 30-day trial, customization, sustainable, free and fast shipping

Cons: You have to assemble it, not cheap

Shop all Burrow armchairs for $495 to $1,695
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