Two Important Questions
While there are hundreds of styles and thousands of material combinations available, shopping for a recliner comes down to two questions: “How does it look?” and “How does it feel?”
How to Buy a Recliner
What to ask and what to look for when purchasing motion furniture.
- by Robin Parrish
Shopping for recliners sounds easy, but once you're confronted with all of the options available, it can be surprisingly overwhelming. Keep the following in mind when considering what kind of recliner will suit you best.
There are two primary questions to ask yourself when shopping for a recliner: “How does it look?” and “How does it feel?” Depending on your priorities, one may have more value to you than the other, but give at least some consideration to both.
Gone are the days of only ugly recliners suited for a television sitcom dad. Today’s modern motion furniture comes in a variety of shapes and materials—making it nearly impossible not to find a design that suits your personal style. Options include traditional recliners, arm chair recliners, ergonomic designs, and even reclining sectional sofas. Limitless textile options, colors, and silhouettes ensure your new recliner will enhance your decor instead of detracting from the room. And then there’s comfort—the invisible salesperson. It’s no secret that recliners have a way of selling themselves once you sit in them.
Recliners are like cars: before you buy, you've got to take them for a test drive. Every recliner is different, and more importantly, every body is different. You want a chair that fits you like a glove, offering maximum comfort and support. The only way to find the right model is to sit down and kick back. The lumbar support, posture, and reclining angle are all important, and only you know which ones offer the most soothing environment for your body. You wouldn't buy expensive clothes without trying them on--think of a recliner as a custom-fit article of furniture.
All the Extras
Recliners come with plenty of "extras," but the choice and combination of these add-ons is entirely up to you.
One of the most common extras is a rocker or glider that's built into the chair. Typically this means the recliner rocks while in the down position, but locks solidly into place when the footrest is up. Rockers are standard options on some recliners, and can be an added (for a charge) on others. Some recliners also swivel and offer multiple reclining positions.
If you want to go a step beyond comfort, think about your chair as a source of therapy. Massaging recliners come in varieties ranging from basic vibration to rolling, and even deep-tissue shiatsu massage with multiple speeds. Many of these chairs also feature built-in heat in the chair's backrest, and the some high-tech models also include leg massagers.
For those die-hard sports fans, or anyone who wants to sit for long stretches of time without getting up—there are recliners designed just for you. Many manufacturers now offer built-in cup holders and hidden compartments for storing books, remote controls, and snacks. Some compartments are even made to function as coolers, where you can store your favorite beverages.
If you're thinking about something bigger than a single chair and you’ve got the space for it, you might like a sofa or loveseat, with ends that recline. And for your home entertainment room, consider theatre seats, which are essentially three or more full recliners joined together.
When it comes to shopping for these extras, be sure to know what you want and what (if any) extra charges they incur.
Let's Go Shopping
The key to successful recliner shopping is to be hands-on and test a variety of models. Here are a few shopping tips to help you get the most bang for your buck. While the fabric or leather exterior is often what garners your attention, ask your retail sales representative these questions about what’s underneath:
- How is the frame constructed?
Thicker frames made of hardwoods are typically more durable, and will stand up to maximum wear and tear over the years.
- What kind of foam cushioning is used?
Underneath a recliner’s cover are layers of foam cushioning materials. Since there are many types, thicknesses, and densities of foam used in furniture manufacturing, ask your sales representative to tell you about the features and benefits of the specific foam used on the model you’re considering.
- What can you expect from the fabric/leather cover? You want to understand the type of fabric used, its durability, and how it will fit in with your lifestyle and the placement of the recliner in your home.