Picking out a great accent chair is easy. Picking out a great accent chair that you will love for a respectable amount of time that’s under $500? Uh, turns out that’s actually pretty easy, too. I was skeptical at first, but the more I searched “Accent Chairs → Filter → Price: Low to High” (which is the greatest of all the filters), I was suddenly like “where does it end?” and “how do I choose just one?” and then I was like “oh wait, I’m picking out 40ish” and then I was like “THAT’S STILL NOT ENOUGH, THERE ARE SO MANY.” Granted, I was searching with basically zero restrictions besides that $500 price limit, while the general population will have a few boundaries to adhere to.
A note on the $500 budget here. Yes, you can absolutely find a TON of accent armchairs in the $150-$300 range—17 of the 39 chairs we’re going to show you in just a bit are under $300—which is awesome, but we wanted to amp this up a little to give some more stylistic and material options. In those lower price tags, you tend to get a lot of repeat silhouettes and a serious case of “didn’t I see this chair 124 times already” déjà vu.
Also of note, the idea was to find larger club-like or wingchair-esque sized chairs, not dinky little dining chairs that could maybe pass for an armchair in a small room. FYI, there’s nothing wrong with using a smaller chair as an accent, but at this budget, the goal was to find something more substantial.
Okay, so as someone who scrolled through literally thousands of armchairs on the internet to put this guide together, I had some time to think about the “rules” of buying an armchair.
First and foremost is form and function, a.k.a., do you like how it looks and do you like how it sits (or at the very least, can you GUESS that it’ll sit nice based on reviews and material specifications you found online)? If your selection passes this test, you will move onto, arguably, the most important step here: Scale.
Scale is like seeing an outfit that looks great on your tall friend, but when you put it on your average-height body, is a complete disaster. The same is true for interiors. Example: if you find a gorgeous, totally cozy, overstuffed armchair, and then squeeze it into your 250-square-foot apartment that already has a sofa in it (by the way, how did you get it in the door? Please DM me with instructions) it won’t matter how cute or how cozy that thing started out as, because now it’s just full-time devouring your home and intimidating your existing loveseat-sized couch.
Looking to avoid an overstuffed disaster? Below are a few hard and fast rules on getting the right scale:
1. Pick a chair with similar arm height to the surrounding chairs and/or sofa in the room. Seat heights are allowed to vary a bit, and back heights will definitely vary, but keeping the arm height in line will do magic for the eye.
2. The size of the room will determine the size of the chair. Consider the room you are shopping for and ask yourself how would you describe its size: Sort of small? Pretty big? Comfortable, but not too roomy? Whatever your description, you want similar words to come to mind when you’re selecting the chair(s) for it. Granted, this isn’t a scientific approach, but it works (, all science ever got me was a C+). Another thing to keep in mind: are you using just one chair or a pair? If you’re going the pair route, you’ll want to be sure two of the chairs won’t totally consume your floor plan. When in doubt, look online for the dimensions and tape it out with painter’s tape (which is super easy to remove) before you buy.
3. If all else fails, just try before you buy! Either shop small and locally where you can literally take the product home and test it before you buy it (most local shops will be a-ok with you taking home a chair for 24-48 hours at no charge…though they’ll likely ask for some kind of deposit). Or, just shop online at places with stellar return policies. This way, you may test it out with the assurance that you can return it if you totally hate it. There are also a ton of bigger box retailers that have come out with augmented reality functionality. This means you can see a piece of furniture in your home via your mobile phone. The tough part about this is understanding an item’s dimensions in comparison to what you’re superimposing it against in your “virtual” home. Emily recently did a story on Target’s new See It In Your Space feature, which looks pretty snazzy and helpful. Check it out!
Now, let’s talk about some of the specific chairs we are recommending from some of our go-to retailers to get you pumped about them.
While researching this post, I ran into SO MANY rattan chairs, and you know what? I liked it. In fact, I liked it so much that at a certain point it became difficult to not re-title this post “A Bunch of Rattan Chairs That You Should Probably Buy.” Eventually, though, I did pare things down and selected just a few favorites. The Bella Rattan Armchair by Opalhouse () quickly became number one, not only because it showcases a high back (hello, comfort!) but at about $150, it leaves plenty of room in my pocketbook to purchase a throw and accent pillow to dress it up with. If you have a little more of a budget and looking for something a bit more sculptural, the World Market option one for $270 () is super fun, as is from Serena & Lily. Oh, and of course, is basically an IKEA classic at this point but still so, so good.
Caning also made a strong appearance in this roundup. You can’t see it in the photo here, but the back of the Target chair at #1 is caned, which elevates the entire design of this piece if you ask me. Chair from Urban Outfitters is an awesome mix of rattan and caning, so…win win in our book. For a more subtle “natural touch,” the low-slung lounge chair from Candelabra at is cool and edgy in that black finish. CB2 also has a fresh, modern option in a bleach blonde wood ().
For those into their buffalo check, check out (which is a bit smaller and could frankly probably double as a dining chair) and , a smooshy, cozy wingback perfect for a quiet reading nook or kids room to read to your little ones in.
from Structube was used in the staging of the Portland project and in person, looks far more luscious than it’s $199 price tag would suggest. Same goes with Target’s chair at . Emily uses this chair as often as she can and has them in her own home. Everyone is always stunned that it’s a budget option under $250 when they see it in person, she says.
For the traditional lover, the roll arm chair on casters from World Market is an awesome price for such a substantial chair. The super structured chair from Article at is definitely more traditional, but with that tight body and streamlined frame and legs, it’s super fresh. If you’re more into shaking up your look or something more modern, the leather option at, the rounded pick at , the super cool art-piece that is and the looks-like-a-cool-military-jacket chair at are worth looking at.
And finally, this wouldn’t be an accent chair roundup without some velvet right? Who doesn’t need a hit of glam in their life/room every now and then? is super sexy and channel tufting is SUPER hot right now (we’re still all super jealous of Brady’s DIY bed). Though I wish the frame wasn’t polished brass (an antique or brushed brass would have been more subtle), it’s still quite the looker. Black velvet is more than just a killer Alannah Myles song…it also makes for a gorgeous statement piece. If you agree, check out . For anyone who’s like “wait, where’s all my beloved millennial pink?!?”. Don’t worry, we gotcha…scroll down to . The clamshell vibe of the Anthro chair at is so fun and would add a really nice feminine touch to a room that has more streamlined, angular furniture, for sure.
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And there you have it. Call out some of your favorites in the comments so we know what you guys are loving, or if you have any links to share of chairs we didn’t include that you love/have at home.
***A big thanks to one of our new market researchers and contributors a Portland-based decorator and writer, for helping us pull this roundup and post together.
More Furniture Roundups:
- 77 Affordable Accent Chairs
- Power Couples: Sofas & Accent Chairs + A Few Rules
- Achieving the “Effortless Expensive” Style: Furniture Picks
- Achieving the “Modern Victorian” Style: Furniture
- Achieving the “Modern Traditional” Style: Furniture