Recliners as Furniture for the Living Room

Use these living room layout ideas and recliner decorating ideas to create a relaxing space in your living room.

When thinking about what to write for this post, I realized that there would be two camps of readers: those who adore recliners and those who despise them. :-)

One of the best investments you can make in turning your house into a home is a set of comfortable chairs, like recliners, for the living room. This is true whether your decorating tastes lean toward the traditional, the farmhouse, or the modern.

Too much attention to a room's aesthetics, in my opinion, can cause people to neglect its occupants' needs for restful surroundings. So, I thought I'd share some advice on how to decorate a living room with recliners or comfortable upholstered chairs so that you'll adore them for their comfort and their style.

Two Distinct Categories of Seating

When it comes to seating options, most households have both chairs meant for sitting ON and chairs meant for sitting IN.

Chairs of the type typically found in a dining room are fine for sitting in while consuming food, but they aren't the kind of chairs we typically reach for when we're in need of a quiet place to unwind.

Soft comfortable furniture in living room.

For long periods of time spent lounging in front of the television, reading a good book, watching movies, or just relaxing at the end of a hard day, nothing beats a comfy chair with plenty of padding and a deep seat cushion. Ideally, every house would have one of these chairs.

If you're lucky enough to own at least one recliner, you know how much cozier your living room, family room, or den can be.

Here are some suggestions for how to present them most attractively.

Read on to learn why even those who dislike this cozy home seating option are missing out. :-)

What's the Difference Between a House and a Home?

I talk about the structure of my home in terms of its walls, fixtures, flooring, and studs. Words like "haven," "comfortable," "cozy," and "personal" appear frequently in my descriptions of my home.

HOME outdoor doormat from Pottery Barn

To most people, home is more than a physical location. If you own a house, you know the feeling... it's the only place on Earth where you can relax completely.  

When you walk through your front door, you immediately feel at ease. There is no five-star resort or Instagram-worthy hotel in the world that can provide us with the same ambiance.

Adding Some Human Touch to Your Family Room

Recliners are no longer taboo furniture that should be relegated to a dark, hidden corner. Used to be like this, but not anymore Too little time is spent at home for it to be unbearable.

My decorating manifesto is a blog post I published several years ago with the catchy title, "How to Decorate So You Feel at Home."

I described how I take pleasure in my home through all five of my senses and how I prioritize form and function in its design.

Autumn decorated living room using items from nature to create a white and woodsy look.

In my living room, I have two recliners, which serves both a practical and relaxing purpose. The multi-function recliners are situated in front of the room's focal point, the fireplace. When we need some quiet time to think, they're great.

When we watch movies in the reclined position, the chairs face forward like they do in a theater, and when we want to read facing the fireplace or simply gaze out at the lake, they swivel 360 degrees, giving us the best of both worlds.

Not one of these features would ever be included on a chair that moves on its own. There would be a constant struggle to rearrange the furniture in the room to make room for the non-motion chairs. It's convenient to have a single seat that can serve multiple purposes.

Soft comfortable furniture in living room. The Southern Motion brand is responsible for my comfortable reclining chairs. Title: Shimmer, a Fashion Model Material: Toast-colored leather

The two matching recliners I purchased were rocker recliners with swivel bases because I wanted the flexibility to move them around the room as needed. It required extensive reading and visits to local furniture stores.

For my needs, I was not interested in power recliners, massage functions, or overly large seating areas. All of these are great if they are what you need to feel at home.

Decorating is not an area to strive for perfection.

It's true that imperfection in decor adds more personality and interest to a room, so I made an effort not to aim for perfection when I decorated my living room.

The idea that a home should be a haven of tranquility is lost on some pieces of interior design advice. The only things they care about are how they look and what's in style.

A room's aesthetic qualities, such as its sense of harmony, the use of calming colors, the ease with which it can be used for social gatherings, and the presence of unique, personal touches, all contribute to the homey feeling.

The best investment you can make in the comfort of your home is to get rid of any old, uncomfortable furniture and replace it with new, suitable furniture for you and your family. If you do this, the room will become even more lovable in your eyes.

I had to wait 8 weeks for my recliners to be delivered after I placed my order. Back then, I gave my older daughter the couch I'd promised her. A lack of comfortable seating in the room initially didn't seem like a big deal to me, but boy was I wrong.

Airstone Fireplace makeover with wicker chairs in front.

For the duration of the 8 weeks, I brought in two outdoor wicker rockers to sit ON rather than IN. Never before had I felt so uneasy in my own home. These outdoor seats were lovely to look at, but far too rigid to use for anything more than a few minutes of reading or television.

I was overjoyed when the recliners and a new deep-seated Pottery Barn sofa arrived; the improvement in the room's atmosphere was immediate.

Have you ever spent about half an hour sitting in every chair in your house? Can they relax? If it doesn't, then you should probably get rid of it. Is it purely cosmetic?

Comparing Form and Style

It's important to think about how each piece of furniture will be used before purchasing it for a room. Get rid of the extraneous stuff so you have more room for the things you really need to make your home a haven.

  • If you frequently gather in your living room to watch movies as a family, for instance, you may prefer to replace the stiff, upright seating arrangements typical of more formal living rooms with more relaxed, "sink-into-it" options.  
    • An extended sofa set with a couple of chaises attached to it is possible here. In the alternative, a set of two or more coordinating lounge chairs
  • Do you read in front of the fire, or do you play board games? If so, you won't have much fun reliving your past if you don't have a table, a table lamp, and some chairs set up in a convenient location.

3. Set Aside Personal Area

Putting some of your own personality into a room makes it feel more like home. Make a comfortable spot where you can unwind in whatever way appeals to you most.

Wicker table by a recliner

Disregard what other people may think. You can still have a fabulous home even if it doesn't look like it belongs on the cover of a design magazine. I hope you take pleasure in every corner of your home.

Create a comfortable spot to read, knit, listen to music, watch TV, or do whatever else you like here, even in a modestly sized living room.

My favorite spot to relax in my living room is shown above. I spend most of my evenings there, from watching TV and reading to writing and editing blog posts.

My needs are met in a comfortable and practical manner by the combination of a buttery leather recliner, a dimmable floor lamp, and a basket table on which I keep throw blankets and candles.

Ed has a matching recliner in my living room, situated along the fireplace's narrow wall. He's content with the chair alone because it has a small table by it.

Large basket made into a diy end table. It sits next to a brown leather recliner with a white throw and pillow. A floor lamp behind with a dimmable socket to adjust the light.

Invest in making this your ideal private haven by including:

  • Put your knitting supplies within easy reach by setting up a basket next to the chair, or line the wall behind the seat with shelves to store your entire book collection.

When Purchasing a Reclining Chair, Four Key Considerations

I wish there were more manufacturers who produced recliners with modern aesthetics, but if you're looking at one in a furniture store, you should imagine it in a different color or with a different pattern of stitching.

Do not buy a chair or sofa without first trying it out when shopping for a recliner for your home.

brown leather recliner in furniture showroom.

Since we're all different heights and weights, widths, and depths, recliner reviews written by strangers are of little help when making a purchase.

After all, La-Z-Boy is well-known for their reclining chairs, so I was confident that we would be able to find one that would please both Ed and I at their local store. However, despite making two trips to the store's showroom to try out all of their recliners, we still weren't able to find any that we found to be comfortable.

A local furniture store carrying products from a number of different recliner manufacturers is where we finally settled on a design that satisfied both of us.

We tried out dozens before narrowing down to our top picks. We took our top picks home and tried them again a few days later to make sure they still felt good, and eventually settled on the one pictured above as being most accommodating to both of our needs.

Choosing a Relaxing Reclining Chair

While a well-styled photo of seating in a home decor magazine or catalog is sure to pique your interest, the real question you should be asking yourself before purchasing a recliner is:

  • Do you feel supported whether you're sitting up straight or fully reclined?
  • Can you put your feet up?
  • What is the fabric like when it is in contact with your skin?
Creating a Comfortable and Relaxing Home using motion furniture that reclines, swivel and rock.
  • What is the quality like? With all the time you'll spend in it and the fact that it's likely to be the most used chair in the house, you'll want to make sure it's sturdy. Extra money is justified.
  • Too much padding in the head rest can cause the user to lean forward, which is an uncomfortable position. The stuffing in seats and cushions should be distributed evenly.
  • Is there a comfortable distance between the bottom of the seat and the footrest when reclining?  
  • Do your feet touch the ground when you're standing, or do they dangle freely?
  • Do the arm rests extend to a level that is suitable for your height and comfort?
  • Whether or not your upper thighs are the same length as the seat's back and front is a good indicator of comfort. You need just the right amount of words here; you don't want it to be too short or too long.
  • If you're looking into getting a recliner, know that a power model will allow you to customize both the seat and the headrest. However, keep in mind that there will be a cord running from the chair to the outlet, and that the chair must be placed in close proximity to a power source.
    • Keep in mind that the chair's electronics could fail long before the chair itself does.
Fireplace decorated for the winter months.

You shouldn't be shy about asking for customizations if you find a recliner you like but would prefer a different fabric or if the chair rocks or swivels but doesn't already have these features.

5. Leather or Fabric Recliners?

If you're in the market for a recliner, choose one that complements your current decor.

Creating a Comfortable and Relaxing Home using leather recliners
  • Recliners with simpler lines are a great complement to sofas that feature tufting or other ornate decorative details.
  • Traditional styles like those with nail trim, buttons, and wingbacks are perfect if you want to give a room a more formal air.

Location of Recliners in a Room, No. 6

If you want to make sure that everyone in your house has a cozy spot to sit, you should think about the available floor space and the number of existing chairs before you make your purchase of a recliner.

A recliner requires more clearance than a standard upholstered chair when fully reclined. When reclining, you don't want your headrest to bump into the wall or your feet to bump into the coffee table.

  • In order to fully recline, most recliners require a space of 10 to 14 inches between themselves and a wall or another piece of furniture.
Fall leaves in basket placed in an unused fireplace flanked by 2 leather recliner chairs.

Recliners should be strategically placed to complement the room's existing furniture.

  • Recliners are bulky and can throw off the balance of a room; to remedy this, place it across from a similarly massive piece of furniture, such as a bookcase.
  • Relax in a recliner on a rug big enough to hold it and some side tables. The result will be an inviting, homey feel.

Reclining Chairs: Accessorizing Ideas

Whenever you bring recliners into a room, it's important to remember to drape a plush throw over the back or arm of each chair. You can think of it as a little bit of texture, color, and interest for a cozy feel.

Leather recliner in living room with fall throw blanket and fur over the arm.

How to Style a Reclining Chair:

Spare blankets:

  • Keep the recliner's thickness in mind when shopping for a throw blanket. In the winter, when you want to bundle up for warmth and coziness, a thin fabric may make you look or feel weak. On the other hand, a thick, luxurious fabric like fur or velvet will do just the opposite.

Throw Pillows for Decor:

Recliners typically have sufficient padding without the addition of toss or throw pillows.

  • However, a decorative throw pillow tucked into a seat's corner when the chair isn't in use can help a room feel more put together.
  • When you're not using the chair, you can toss the pillow into a nearby basket.

Accent Pieces:

Place a large side table in front of a group of recliners for a polished look. A tiny table will make the room look cramped. If you want to use the foot rest, you'll need to move the coffee table a good distance away.

Reclining chair side tables should be chosen with the chair's size in mind. A mismatched pair of a coffee table and a side table is inevitable.

Make sure the side table has a sturdy base to prevent it from being accidentally knocked over by a swiveling chair.

If you still dislike recliners, you may want to consider these alternatives.

How to decorate a home with recliners and still have style.

If you're still not sold on recliners but want to upgrade your living room furniture, consider a reclining loveseat or couch. Reclining seats typically feature a lever concealed within the armrest that can be pulled to open the seat into a reclined position.

You and your loved ones are the only ones who need to know that the seats recline, so the added cost is well worth it.

This type of reclining chair can be easily mistaken for a regular piece of upholstered furniture, despite its unique reclining feature.

When I lived in my last apartment, I had a sofa and loveseat that looked just like this one because I was so against using recliners in my interior design.

Whether You Prefer a Chair and Ottoman Or a Sectional

  • Add a footstool or ottoman in front of one or two upholstered chairs already present in the room for additional seating and a soft place to rest your feet.
  • You can also find seating that's both stylish and comfortable with a chaise sofa or a well-made sectional sofa.

Do Not Neglect Your Comfort

My one decorating mistake was waiting too long to include a couple of comfortable recliners in my living room.

How do you create a relaxing environment in your home or apartment? At the end of a long day, we all need certain things and routines to help us unwind and feel at ease in our own homes. When it comes to goals, what are yours

Locating a Recliner Retailer

Despite the fact that I have stated previously that I will never buy an upholstered armchair without first sitting in it, I have gathered together a few recliners that I found online to demonstrate the wide range of designs available.

All of these recliners can be customized with your choice of hundreds of different fabrics and a wide variety of leather and leather-like trim colors and styles to match any aesthetic you have going on in your living space.

a selection of affordable recliner chairs that offer function and style.

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