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10 best armchairs to relax in with a good book and a cuppa

Ali Howard
·7-min read
If you're investing look for a wooden frame, a sprung seat and foam cushions that can hold their shape over frequent use (Loaf)
If you're investing look for a wooden frame, a sprung seat and foam cushions that can hold their shape over frequent use (Loaf)

With sprawling corner sofas and family-friendly modular seating so popular, it would be easy to overlook the trusty armchair.

But this is a furniture piece that offers a singular experience to cherish. Indeed, there’s nothing like curling up in an inviting chair for one – preferably with a good book and a glass of red in hand.

Gone are the days of matching three-piece suites. In buying a separate armchair we’re given permission to go for a standout statement piece that complements, but also contrasts with, our existing decor.

There’s a wealth of designs to choose from with price tags as diverse as the styles themselves. Whether you plump for a big contemporary boxy number, a plush, velvet-clad wingback or a sleek and chic mid-century inspired armchair, it is of course, a matter of taste.

But you’ll also need to consider things like back support, depth of seat cushion, and whether you prefer an elevated seating position, which protects your posture, or a chair with a luxurious low sit that’s made for lounging. We put our top 10 armchairs to the test looking for great design and optimum comfort.

You can trust our independent reviews. We may earn commission from some of the retailers, but we never allow this to influence selections, which are formed from real-world testing and expert advice. This revenue helps to fund journalism across The Independent.

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Mack + Milo Afelia armchair

With its elegant shaping and angled wooden legs, this is a substantial armchair but one that boasts a slender silhouette, making it ideal for smaller living spaces. That said, the affordable Afelia offers big impact, especially in vibrant turquoise (it’s also available in a soft light grey).

Mixing mid-century styling with a decidedly Scandi feel, the armchair is upholstered in a durable woven polyester blend, while its tapered legs are crafted from a pale blond rubberwood. With its firm seat, supportive winged back, and relaxed recessed arms, this one’s perfect for curling up in.

Buy now £255.99, Wayfair

Habitat Celine armchair

The stylish Celine is all about understated glamour. In a rich velvet and with slimline brass legs, the armchair boasts a luxurious mix of materials whilst staying true to its clean, contemporary form. This is a compact furniture piece, making it a great space saver – and one that’s ideal as an occasional chair in the bedroom, too. We found it to be comfy and enveloping with good lower back support, thanks to its ergonomic shaping, including pleasingly curved armrests. Choose from five Vienna velvet shades: grey, pink, teal, navy blue and green.

Buy now £131.25, Habitat

Sofa.com Remy armchair

As with all of Sofa.com’s seating, this one comes in a huge range of fabrics, from the laid-back brushed linen cotton to the classic house herringbone weave – and the fashion-forward Biba-branded navy palm. The Remy brags an imposing, boxy shape (save for its curvy armrests), with a deep and comfy seat that’s impossible not to relax in. Despite its heft, it’s elevated with elegant turned wooden legs, choose English oak or mahogany. We loved its simple double button detailing, too.

Buy now £510.00, Sofa.com

Sofas & Stuff Rye armchair

This is a wholly inviting armchair that cocoons the sitter with its wonderfully deep seat and solid frame. If you’re petite you’ll have no choice but to curl your legs in. We loved its chic, contemporary form – a design-led statement piece that means business. The Rye’s sloped armrests and upright back cushion make for a pleasing combination of comfort and support, while its substantial seat cushion offers a firm but relaxing spot you won’t want to move out of in a hurry. Whether you go for the essential or signature range of fabrics – and the choice is comprehensive – this one’s all about the stylish shaping.

Buy now £1105.00, Sofas & Stuff

Cox & Cox buttoned leather armchair, tan

Our priciest pick is, rightfully, one with serious wow-factor. Crafted from eucalyptus wood and upholstered in a soft, buttery tan leather, this is a statement armchair that demands pride of place in the living room. We loved its interplay of masculine and feminine elements: its sharp-angled, boxy frame is met with elegant, tapered brass legs – and the look is gravity-defying. Of course, this mid-century inspired piece offers optimum support with its high back, generous seat cushion and sturdy armrests. A super stylish investment piece you’ll be fighting family members over.

Buy now £1250.00, Cox & Cox

Williston Forge Arica club chair

If you prefer a faux leather furniture piece – and one that’s easier on the wallet – this vintage-inspired club chair is an impressive imposter. Belying its aged and battered leather look, it’s upholstered in a polyester microfibre that’s tough and durable. And just like the skin it imitates, it has a mottled texture that further adds to the chair’s cosy appeal. With its deep seat and huge curved armrests, this one’s made for movie night.

Buy now £343.99, Wayfair

366 Concept 366 armchair, Loft collection

Designed by Jozef Chierowski in 1962, this is an icon of Polish mid-century modern, and it forms part of the brand’s covetable Loft collection – 366 Concept has the exclusive license to reproduce these stylish furniture pieces, so you know you’re getting the real deal here. With its deep angled seat and its chic, scissor-shaped legs, this is a compact armchair but it’s pleasingly ergonomic. There’s no slumping to be done in this one, just good posture, even when fully relaxed. Choose from a range of textured woven fabrics and a natural or dark wood finish.

Buy now £715.00, Lime Lace

Atkin and Thyme Calvin armchair

Marrying mid-century angular elements with those of a glamorous cocktail chair is this inviting number from Atkin and Thyme. We loved its joyous mix of materials and styles. Plush velvet is met with natural linen, while mid-toned wooden legs and armrests offer a rustic charm. This is another armchair that boasts a substantial and cosy seat but has a compact frame, making it a great buy for smaller spaces and a perfect occasional chair in the bedroom. The Calvin comes in a range of colourful velvets from the pale and muted to the vibrant and jewel-hued.

Buy now £399.00, Atkin and Thyme

Dwell Monaco armchair

Dwell’s chunky, square shaped Monaco is one cosy affair with its generous deep seat and its pleasingly low sit. The armchair is elevated slightly with black wooden block legs but it still feels grounded. We loved its simple, striking, contemporary form.

Inside the chair’s boxy frame are super comfy back and seat cushions, thanks to their foam and feather make-up. Adding texture and interest to the sharp angles, the armchair is upholstered in a woven cotton-polyester fabric that’s soft on the eye but reassuringly hard-wearing. Choose from charcoal, sand, ivory or grey.

Buy now £599.00, Dwell

Swoon Petherwin armchair, green velvet

Offering a contemporary twist on the classic wingback is Swoon’s new Petherwin chair – and it proves to be one imposing statement piece. Lines have been straightened and angles tightened to take it away from the granny look and instead, give it a modern, masculine silhouette.

The armchair is upholstered in a rich polyester velvet, which brings a softness to the hard-edged shaping while tapered walnut legs strike a decidedly mid-century chord. With its impressive height and its stately presence, this one feels like a plush velvety throne.

Buy now £499.00, Swoon

The verdict: Armchairs

Mack + Milo’s Afelia armchair got our top spot for its mid-century design, its high quality build and materials, and its impressive affordability. It’s a compact armchair with big impact and it looks just as stylish at every angle. We also loved Swoon’s Petherwin armchair. It’s a sassy update on a traditional wingback – and one that looks much more expensive than it is.