Stylish recliners, like the Stressless Wave by Ekornes, are becoming easier to find—in stores and in homes.
Queen of the Castle
Recliners are no longer the seat of choice for just men. There are plenty of models in motion furniture created with the fairer sex in mind. For example, one size no longer fits all. Manufacturers like Ekornes are making identical models in up to three different sizes, so every body type can find a comfy chair that suits them perfectly. Female shoppers will also likely appreciate the increasingly elegant designs in recliners. Many resemble more traditional arm chairs or modern silhouettes, and some come with tasteful ottomans, so that they are as fashionable as they are comfortable.
Get Moving: A Look at Today’s Recliners
Everything you need to know about how to buy motion furniture.
- by Robin Parrish
Let's face it: In the past, recliners were sometimes regarded as the ugly stepchildren of home furnishings. "Serious" designers wanted nothing to do with them, because unlike other furnishings, their emphasis was almost entirely on comfort. Yet if the big, frumpy eyesore used by Martin Crane on Frasier is what you think of when the word "recliner" is mentioned, then let me introduce you to the wondrous--and even (gasp!) stylish--world of modern recliners. Or, if you prefer, the broader, more modern term that encompasses reclining chairs, sofas, and more: "motion furniture."
And if the idea that recliners can be stylish is a shock to your system, consider this: With the wide range of options available in function, style, and size... recliners aren't only for men anymore.
There's a lot more going on inside a recliner these days than you'd expect. Yet their basic design is largely unchanged from the early 1800s, when they were first conceived. Every recliner has a frame, padding, upholstery, and a mechanism for activating the reclining part of the chair. You won't find a reclining seat without these basics.
Today, a recliner can be a complexly comfortable apparatus, providing multiple positions of both the footrest and the seat back, personalization to your ideal reclining position, lumbar back support and fabrics tested specifically for durability. And most importantly for fashionistas, these days a recliner can be indistinguishable from an elegant arm chair.
The styles of motion furniture now available are virtually limitless. Your recliner might function as a rocking chair or glider, a classy executive wingback chair, the end seat of a sofa, a chair powered by electricity to help the disabled into a standing position, or even the increasingly popular adjoining "theatre seats" that are starting to replace sofas in many modern TV rooms.
When it comes to upholstery, you have two options: fabric and leather. Leather is often more durable (and accordingly, it is sometimes the more expensive option), while fabric provides more color and pattern choices. Wool is naturally stain-resistant textile while a less expensive option worth considering is synthetic microfiber, which resists moisture and stains. And of course there are fabric and leather combinations available as well.
Make & Model
Many manufacturers offer motion furniture as part of their lineup. A few of the most well-known include La-Z-Boy, Barcalounger, Lane, Benchmaster, Ekornes and Palliser. Each brings its own unique perspective to the design and functionality of their products.
La-Z-Boy produces almost one hundred different recliner models that are specifically made for fully stretching out in tight spaces, even against a wall. This option is frequently paired with models designed to work as rocking chairs or gliders.
If you prefer the look of a separate ottoman over a built-in foot rest, you’ll find the solution in the plush designs of Lane, Palliser, or Benchmasters. They're typically sold as a set--a reclining-back armchair with its matching ottoman.
Ekornes' Stressless line, which prides itself on ergonomic comfort, features a unique "Glide" construction that operates on a set of curved metal rods and adjustable wheels that you can tighten or loosen. The seat reacts to your body weight, shifting positions automatically to accommodate whatever way you want to relax. Every model in the Stressless line also comes in two to three different sizes (yet identical in appearance) to custom-fit the user like a tailor-made garment.
It's not uncommon to find accessories built into modern motion furniture, much like the "extras" that might come with a luxury car. These include adjustable headrests, drink and book holders, and power heat and massage functions to soothe that aching back. Franklin makes a recliner that includes a cooler concealed under one side arm that can store up to five beverages, and a hidden compartment under the other arm for storing electronic remotes, magazines, or books.
Shopping for a Recliner
When shopping for a new recliner, here are a few tips to look for:
- Strong, sturdy frame construction
- Padding and upholstery that's been tested for maximum wear and tear
- Reclining mechanisms that operate smoothly yet are built with durability in mind
- Personalized comfort. Above all else, you want comfort. Remember that any padded furniture, much like a mattress, will elicit a unique response from the person sitting on it. All spines and postures and comfort levels are different, so what feels soothing to one might create misery for another. A good recliner should fit its owner like a glove.