Want a recliner but don't like the recliner look? No problem. I don't like the recliner look either but love the comfort they offer. I've been scouring for my shortlist of comfortable and stylish armchair recliners at all price points. Here's my shortlist. Includes expensive and low-cost options.
Forget the old school recliner chair. You know what I’m talking about. The puffy fabric chair with a large handle on the side that when pulled kicks the chair out like an angry mule.
Like this one:
While they may be comfortable, let’s just say they’re not the prettiest piece of furniture. You’re kinda stuck stuffing it in the rec room in the basement. It’s surely not furniture for your showcase living room. If you’re in the market for a new recliner chair, Recliner Time has some good reviews on their site
But if you can’t put your fave old school recliner in the living room, does that mean you can’t have a recliner in your living room?
Nope. Not anymore.
You can have your cake and eat it too.
We are now in an age where you can buy beautiful furniture that is not just comfortable, but “take a nap” comfortable.
One such option is the armchair recliner.
I’m geeked about this topic because I’m in the market for such a chair. I want it beautiful, big and comfortable. Leather (real leather) is a must, but you don’t have to leather for something beautiful.
Before I go on, a word about leather chairs (leather furniture in general).
In my opinion, if you can’t afford real leather you are far better off with fabric than some low-cost bonded leather chair. I’ve fallen for the “bonded leather” nonsense before and within a few years, the micro-thin leather layer starts peeling off. There’s no fix for it other than junking it. It looks horrible, makes an unsightly mess and leaves you chairless.
What to look for when choosing a beautiful reclining armchair
Let’s talk about what you should look for when choosing not just any reclining chair, but a beautiful reclining chair (that doesn’t look like a recliner).
In fact, nice design to me is one that doesn’t reveal that it’s a recliner. I love the big, over-sized armchair look, but that’s not your only option. There are some fabulous sleek mid-century accent chair recliners as well. In fact, there are traditional armchair recliners you can buy if that’s your style.
If you haven’t tried an electric-powered armchair recliner, you should. What I love most about the electric-powered recliner armchair is that you can place it just where you like it for whatever you’re doing.
But electric isn’t all that terribly common, especially for the nicer designs.
Most reclining armchairs recline by pushing back. I prefer the “push-back” recline mechanism over some unsightly handle on the side.
Real leather or quality fabric only
I’ve already pounded the table about this, but it bears repeating. If you’re going leather, go all-in with real leather. If not, go fabric, not bonded or faux leather. That’s just one guy’s opinion though.
I’m not big on swivel chairs but it wouldn’t be a dealbreaker for me if the perfect design and function swiveled. It’s not that I don’t find it useful, it’s that I have young kids who will turn it into a merry-go-round and possibly destroy it inside a year (or faster).
Swivel also requires more floor space. I could just see me or my kids swivel it next to an end table and knock milk and cookies all over the place.
Rec room or living room?
While I would never put a theater-style recliner in the living room, that doesn’t mean theater-style recliners don’t have their place in the home. If you have a media room or rec room or some man cave, the monster theater-style recliner is a great fit. It’s just not fitting for your living room.
Here’s the bad news.
A great armchair recliner isn’t cheap. Real leather starts at $1,500 (and goes up north of $5,000). If you see “leather” for $500, it’s bonded or faux.
Fabric options can be had for less and they can look great. Not as great as real leather IMO, but great nevertheless.
View this as an investment, because in many ways it is.
Real leather or high-quality upholstery will last decades.
Cheap bonded leather or upholstery will last a few years.
It’s your choice and of course budgets are limited, but if you can swing the extra $750+, do so.
My top 5 favorite reclining armchairs
Here’s a list of reclining armchairs I like.
1. My favorite recliner armchair (that doesn’t look like a recliner)
The above is a stunning leather reclining armchair by Restoration Hardware. Look at that beauty. You can’t tell it’s a recliner. In fact, the same model comes without a reclining feature (for those of you who prefer ottomans over recliners).
Seriously, that chair would look fabulous in most living room designs (except for the modern look, but RH has you covered there… see the next option).
Unless you make or saved up big bucks, don’t get too excited. Restoration Hardware, while one of my all-time favorite furniture retailers, is not cheap.
Here’s where it gets interesting. RH lets you choose from 58 different leather options. Another nice customization option is nailheads or no nailheads (I like nailheads).
While electric-powered, I’m okay with that just because it is so awesome in design and while I haven’t had the good fortune to sit in it, I know it would be super comfortable.
2. Close 2nd favorite armchair recliner (for the modern look)
That’s a beauty, isn’t it?
It too is by Restoration Hardware.
It would fit perfectly in any modern, contemporary or mid-century living room design. The high back and deep seat make it very comfortable despite it’s sleek design.
When not in reclining position you can’t tell it’s a recliner.
You get even more customization options. You can choose from two wood finishes and 38 different leather options.
Again, you’re gonna have to open your wallet wide because it too is expensive.
Now that I’ve covered the high-end of such chairs, how about some beautiful armchair recliners that don’t cost so much.
3. Low-cost traditional fabric armchair that looks really good
Here’s a great-looking traditional fabric armchair that does NOT look like a recliner. The best part is the price.
There are few living rooms where this reclining armchair wouldn’t look good plus provide plenty of comfort. While manual and not as plush as other offerings, it’s comfortable (with 5 reclining positions), looks great and doesn’t cost much at all.
The upholstery is a polyester blend.
One thing to note – you have to assemble it. That’s never fun, but for how little this chair costs, it’s a small price to pay.
One interesting tidbit is that because it’s a compact armchair recliner, it’s likely not optimally comfortable for a tall person. So all you tall people, this is probably not the best option. The good news though is that many recliners are large and so this can be a perfect option for shorter people.
4. Mid-Century Modern Reclining Armchair
I can’t believe the price of this mid-century modern beauty.
With high arms and long tapered back matched with long tapered wooden legs, this classic mid-century modern armchair will look great in many living room designs including contemporary, modern and of course mid-century modern.
If you don’t mind polyester blend, then this could be perfect recliner for you. I certainly like it, including the speckled light gray.
Like other low-cost chairs, you must assemble this piece of furniture.
5. Wingback reclining armchair
I do love a wingback. In fact, we have two of them. The problem with wingback chairs is they aren’t terribly comfortable because of the straight up and down angle of the tall back.
The reclining wingback solves the comfort problem while offering that classic (and timeless) wingback design for your living room.
You activate the recliner by pushing back (pretty common). There are subtle nailheads along the side that gives is some texture.
The best part is this chair is not all that expensive but looks great nevertheless.