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Statement armchairs: how to get the best seat in the house & 5 statement decorating rules

Interior designer, Lisa Helmanis, provides an easy-to-follow masterclass

With everything in life, it’s important to set your intention. And when it comes to decorating, a statement armchair clearly denotes personal style. As well as creating a dedicated space in which to relax and reflect, a sophisticated chair offers a unique opportunity to prevent a scheme from becoming a ‘one design note’ wonder. Used wisely, a statement chair can take a room from pleasant to peerless and whether I’m designing a bustling restaurant or serene private home, seating is the one of the first elements I consider. Here are my tips on finding your perfect chair.

 

Think about how you will use the chair

Crystal Sunset/Printed Velvet Fabric/Linwood
Aesthetics are all important. But there are more than looks to consider. Wing chair, ergonomic chair, or vintage tub seat? Consider your end usage first. Is this a chair for lounging, reading, or reclining? Back support, depth of cushion and seat height all influence whether this will be ideal for upright report reading or somewhere to snuggle up with a podcast. This extra wide seat upholstered in Crystal Sunset printed velvet is the perfect place to lounge and listen whilst adding a good-looking focal point. If your prefer a plain velvet upholstery fabric, explore the colours of Omega – there are more than 100 available, from Airforce Blue to summer bright Sherbert

 

How to make your chair work with your room

Uhura/Linwood


An accent chair can lend its charms to any living space in your home. Even a starkly minimal bathroom can benefit from the softening effect of curves and fabric. The way to embed the piece into the greater scheme is to ensure it contains another detail from the room. This
yellow armchair also contains the warm grey of the wall paint – which prevents the pattern seeming incongruous against the plain wall – and the burgundy lipstick of the woman in the portrait is reflected in the pattern; subtle but surprisingly effective.

 

Choosing the right fabric for your chair 

Gertrude Linen/Linwood


A beloved armchair can be given new life with a fresh pattern. To secure a harmonious blend of the traditional shape and a timeless fabric, pick out the chair’s lines with a bright contrasting band; a useful trick to have in your design kit box. This technique instantly updates heavier-style easy chairs as does polishing or painting wooden legs. In this instance, Gertrude linen is used in both upholstery and curtains. 

 

Show stopper chairs – steps to consider

Pampas/Linwood

 

Sometimes being unapologetically fabulous is the right way to go. This accent chair with its glamorous polished brass frame and Pampas Charcoal upholstery and Tango weave cushion will always draw the eye. This makes it ideal for hallways or small corners that shouldn’t feel like an afterthought but also require a small footprint. Scale is key with every choice; a high wing chair will always dominate over a low sofa. Look at the size of your room and other pieces before you commit to that exciting find.

 

The art of combining different fabrics and colours

Verde/Recycled Cotton/Linwood 


A clever way of unifying a scheme is to use the same fabrics in different configurations. Here the colours of 
Verde – our recycled cotton collection – are connected without being too formulaic by highlighting the grey of the armchair as a flap on the cushions. This is a great way to stop occasional chairs feeling like unloved after thoughts.   

 

The ultimate seat… take time out with a chaise

Lundy/Linwood 

A chaise longue chair makes the ultimate reading nook. In a bedroom or study, they literally invite you to recline and slow down, a clear reminder that life should occasionally stop for a good book. This mid-century style piece feels contemporary with the addition of the neat repeat of this Lundy weave without overwhelming the shape. The purpose of this reading chair is reiterated with the addition of a standard lamp to gently illuminate a favourite tome. Low key self-care.

 

Look at me… the pure indulgence chair

Alpha Velvet/Linwood 

A vanity chair is a wonderfully indulgent piece of furniture. As much as wingback chairs evoke smoky club rooms, whimsical statement chairs recall a time of movie star boudoirs and Doris Day comedies. Committing to a bold colour choice and details such as fringing and tassels will deliver a starlet to your bed or dressing room. This David Seyfried armchair in Alpha velvet is impossible to ignore. Not for the timid or apologetic, it will over deliver on impact in a single piece of furniture. This is what statement chairs were made for.

 

5 rules for statement decorating – it just takes one thing

You need to think carefully about where you place the piece and how you to make it work with your overall interior. Read on to discover insider tips that will help you successfully bring the ‘one’ into your home.

 

No1. We love intentional mismatching – it keeps things fresh 

Double Dragon/Printed Velvet/Linwood

 

To embed the chosen piece into your room, think about mixing materials such as new and old, formal, and homespun. Playing with contrasts in such a fashion stops the scheme looking too 'matchy-matchy'. Luxurious velvet fabric, Double Dragon – a new collection – looks stunning on this high-back sofa with its elegant, tapered legs, but this scheme could easily have become too formal, so we added seagrass flooring, a contemporary wicker round table – the shape also introduces a relaxed vibe – and rustic, terracotta planters. The accessories add unusual layers, creating a look that oozes elegance.

 

No2. Choose a focal point for maximum impact

Kimono Dream/Linwood
 

For your statement piece to stand out, make it the focal point. We’ve picked a conversational ottoman for this hall, but this piece could work equally well in a sitting room or dressing room; if you are lucky enough to have one. This scheme is simple in its composition – the sweeping staircase and tiled floor frame the piece like a picture and the enchanting landscape of abstract clouds of the printed velvet fabric, Kimono Dreams echoes the curves of the ottoman. Colours found on the velvet upholstery fabric – blue and green – are calming, relaxing and peaceful, setting the right first impression.

 

No3. Don’t be afraid to play – the unexpected often works

Nightfall/Linwood


In a room that’s often simple and quiet, a statement headboard can be a functional yet amazing decor piece. Nightfall velvet looks beautiful on this headboard. The fabric tells so many stories, from the wonders of tricking waterfalls to shooting star showers – what could be more magical in a bedroom setting? For tranquility, we chose a calming green wall and picked out the pink and turquoise elements of the fabric in scatter cushions. Simple and beautiful but possibly rather safe. However, when it came to accessories, stylist Holly Bruce broke the ‘rules’ by opting for non-symmetrical styling. ‘I picked one bedside table – an antique ceramic stool – and a floor-standing lamp on the other side to show that the extravagant design on the headboard can still work in a slightly less formal environment, in anyone’s home.’

 

No4. Access colours that complement

Yanagi Wallpaper/Linwood


Making a decorating statement in your home isn’t just about choosing furniture. Adding statement wallpaper such as Yanagi with its beautiful landscape of mountains, willows and Oriental-style buildings is surely one of the simplest ways to transform a room adding pattern, print and a plethora of tones in an instant. They work in any room, so don’t keep them just for traditional spaces such as the sitting room or bedroom. To cement the chosen design within your scheme, think about complimentary colours. Here, the dado and panelling pick up the pale pink of the design while the tiled floor adds a whimsical note.

 

No5. Style with an element of surprise

Wonderland/Printed velvet/Linwood

 

Sometimes it’s good to throw out the rule book. ‘We chose to compliment this fabric with a vibrant fluorescent pipe,’ says stylist, Holly Bruce, ‘as it brought out the bright spots of pink in the energetic design. We added symmetry to the shot by having two curtains trimmed in Omega Carmine which gave what would have otherwise been a very traditional upholstery piece, an amazingly contemporary feel. The fluorescent wire fish sculpture was the perfect find, as it was quirky and unique.’  


It’s good to think about the details, but don’t forget the one golden rule for statement decorating: make it big, make it bold, make it something you love.


5 rules for statement decorating