Do you have fond memories of your father or grandfather spending quality time with his family from his favorite chair? Maybe it was even his favorite TV-watching, reading, coffee drinking, and napping spot in the entire house. For many of us, we picture recliners as a large, overstuffed thing that is heavy on comfort, but not exactly the most stylish item in the house.
Well, not anymore. Today's recliners combine all the comfort you expect from Dad's Favorite Chair with the chic design elements that make Mom happy, too. Stylistically speaking, they're just as likely to take on the appearance of delicate wing chairs as they are sumptuous, overstuffed loungers. And, with all their amenities, recliners are perfect for watching Monday night football or settling in for a little "R&R." Many of today's recliners come with lots of options to complement your lifestyle, from hidden cup holders, massage functions, and storage spaces for remotes.
Modern-day recliners all have one thing in common. Thanks to their unmatched comfort, they're some of the best seats in the house. Manufacturers make recliners with lumbar support that can be adjusted to various positions. Just like a good diet and plenty of exercise, furniture that supports your body will pay dividends tomorrow as well as today.
So what should you look for when shopping for a new recliner? Here are a few suggestions to help you find the one that fits all of your expectations:
Size up your space.
Before ever setting foot onto a showroom floor, you need to measure the space where the chair will be located and make sure you have plenty of space to recline the chair fully. Some models are engineered so they can be placed within an inch or so of the wall and still recline, but you'll need to know how much space you have to work with.
Also, you should measure the doorways and/or hallways that your recliner will have to fit through to get into your home. If space is a problem, check with the retailer to see if the back comes off of the recliner and can be reassembled in your home.
Look for a quality frame.
The quality of the piece of furniture starts with a quality frame, and you want one that is strong and supportive. Look for a frame made of a hardwood such as oak, beech, ash, maple or cherry. Ask if the wood was kiln dried; this ensures the frame won't crack as it adjusts to various climates. Also, check if the recliner comes with a warranty for the frame. Many manufacturers will offer lifetime warranty on the frame, and most will offer at least 10 years.
See how it fits!
Consider who will be using the chair most frequently. Recliners are offered in a wide range of sizes, from petite to grand. For both your enjoyment and safety, it's important to find a chair that fits just right, regardless of your height or weight. In addition to being scaled for larger people, big man's chairs are engineered to withstand extra weight. Petite chairs are scaled so that shorter legs can rest on the floor with ease. Medium-sized chairs will be comfortable for most average-sized people.
Choose its features.
Determine what features are important to you and your family. Recliners are offered with an astonishing array of options, including swivels, gliders, rockers, massage, heat, lifters, built-in phones, and even refrigerator units. Ask your retail sales associate to demonstrate the various features for you, and make sure you try them out.
Test the reclining mechanism.
The reclining mechanism is one of the most important elements, of course, since it is the part of the furniture that is going to move and get the most wear. Test it out in the store. Recline it and close it several times. Recliners are activated in a variety of ways, with handles, buttons, knobs, simple push-backs, and levers. What feels best to you? Is it easy for you to use and get the chair into the fully reclined position? If not, you might even consider some recliners that feature a power mechanism to recline the chair or extend the footrest at the touch of a button.
How does it sound? Is it quiet and smooth, or ratchety and creaky? Floor models can give you a good idea of how the mechanism will stand up to frequent use.
Also ask about the warranty for this mechanism - most reputable manufacturers offer some kind of warranty for this part of the recliner.
Choose a material.
Recliners come covered in a variety of materials, so consider which one fits your lifestyle best. Leather will offer that richer look and offer years of durability with proper maintenance. However, fabric allows you to be more creative with patterns and colors, and recent advances in textiles have given some furniture fabrics a big boost on the durability scale.
- Fabrics: Choose a fabric that not only looks nice but will be able to withstand a lot of use. Cotton looks nice because it takes dye really well, but it also stains easily. Nylon and rayon both resist stains better than most fabrics. In the end, it is a good idea to look for fabrics that are a mixture. When purchasing fabric recliners, be sure to invest in the stain-resistant finish to protect it from spills and stains.
- Leather: Leather is classic and quite durable, but you should understand what you are getting in a leather recliner. Many leather recliners use a "leather match," which features leather on the seat, arms, and footrest, and the sides and back will usually be vinyl dyed in a matching color to the leather. Building the recliner this way instead of using leather all around generally helps to keep the price lower; also, because leather stretches, if you put it around the parts that move, you may end up with sagging wrinkles. Some manufacturers use a leather match for the entire chair, though, so know what you're buying before you bring it home. Pure leather is a natural product, as opposed to a man-made material. This material is conditioned to ward off stains and is wonderful for day-to-day use by families.
- Microfiber: When it comes to bang for your buck, microfiber may be your best bet. With a nice suede feel to it, it feels soft and comfy. Microfiber is made with tiny filaments that are tightly packed together. This creates a fabric that is moisture-resistant, breathable, and easy to maintain. It is more durable than anything other than leather, and generally costs more than traditional fabrics but less than leather.