Accent chairs might not be your first though when you are decorating a room, but they could be. Usually accent chairs function as forgettable extra seating, places to drop your bags or oddball leftovers from your grandmother's house that you walk past on your way to the couch. But accent chairs can be design elements that switch up a monotonous color scheme, add modernity to a dated bedroom, dining or living room set or even just hang out looking awesome. The best thing about accent chairs is that they stand alone more easily than other furniture. They truly don't have to match anything. Get inspired about accent chairs and you can confidently place that blue velvet-covered throne with feet carved like lion's claws in a place where it will get the attention it deserves.
Did you inherit 12 matching dining chairs you hate from a grandmother you love? Do you feel guilty letting them collect dust in the attic? Take one (just one) and re-invent it. Don't think of it as breaking up the set; honor the chair by giving it a makeover and a prominent place in your dining room. A coat of paint and a new upholstery fabric can turn an eyesore into a conversation piece, giving you a chance to share memories of your loved one.
Place a beanbag in the corner of a child's bedroom. These amorphous sacks of polystyrene beads are incredibly fun to jump on, and you can find them in bright colors and patterns that add comfort and warmth to the space.
A lawn chair is an oddball touch in an eclectic living or bedroom. Go with a handcrafted wooden Adirondack version for a wry bachelor pad and you may find yourself using its fantastically flat, wide arms to hold martinis. Try a straight-up plastic lawn chair complete with embossed floral design placed near a large framed piece of blue astroturf.
Wingback chairs will always be cool. Though you often see them in pairs, they stand alone without shame, and are as handsome from the sides and back as the front. Place one of these austere workhorses covered in woodsy plaid near the window in your study to feel like Sherlock Holmes. If you don't have a study, placing a wingback accent chair near a window might just turn your room into one.
Collect a bunch of accent chairs—a bunch could be like, three, if your apartment is small, or 13 if you have a big house—and scatter them around a living room to evoke the constant sense of excitement that a party might be about to happen. This is particularly useful in a home where you actually do host lots of parties. Vintage wallpaper can unify the look. Just keep the rest of the room simple and deliberate—this is not the room to showcase your collection of wacky table lamps—or your living room will start to feel like a thrift store.
Buy the modern cube chair that you lust after but deep down know would be incredibly uncomfortable to actually sit on. Place it in a prominent spot in your favorite room and enjoy admiring it every day. You do not have to sit on it; it is there as a design element...an accent.
Hang a rainbow of colors of metal folding chairs in the garage. Pull them out when you have guests as your official accent chairs. This design will feel much more thoughtful than using leftover chairs you stuck out with the lawnmower because you didn't actually like them, anymore.
Do not overlook the kitchen. Accent chairs in the kitchen will get sat on. Choose a retro bar stool even if you don't have a bar, and place it anywhere in the kitchen--it will probably naturally migrate. An accent stool is a great place to perch and chat with the person who is cooking you dinner.
Choose a bedroom accent chair as carefully as you would choose your primary couch. It should be beautiful, comfortable and as soothing to you as the rest of the room. If you read before bed, pair your accent chair with a great lamp. Bedroom accent chairs can absolutely be overstuffed and cushy, even if you're not normally an overstuffed-and-cushy type of guy. You will want a footstool in here, too.
Do you need a place to show off that small section of a DIY scrap quilt you started but will never finish? Did you find an embroidery at a garage sale that you would like to display creatively? Recovering the upholstery of an accent chair is often ridiculously easy, requiring nothing more than a screwdriver, scissors and a staple gun. Go for it then watch your friends get inspired to do the same.
Use accent chairs in the garden. Some gorgeous iron lawn furniture sets get separated over the years; you can often find solid, interesting individual pieces in vintage stores. A group of three near a fire pit encourages casual lingering; a solo, heavily weathered specimen situated beneath a potted Meyer lemon tree looks as effortless as the cover of a design magazine.
A big fat reclining chair may sound dowdy these days, but you can bring one back in style if you pair it with hipper accents and knowing touches such as a wall covered in wood paneling and a fat, peach and gold 1980s lamp. This kitschy look is not for everyone, and in fact it may still be the look half of your parents' generation is employing without irony. And that is great too. Accent chairs should get used, and be loved by their owners--making them an integral part of your own design aesthetic is exactly the point.