No longer relegated to office furniture, the modern upholstered swivel chair is a fresh take on living room seating.
For those occasions that require a little extra movement, a swivel chair can be a godsend. Thomas Jefferson, the inventor of the rotating seat, sat in one while drafting the Declaration of Independence. But even if your ambitions aren't any loftier than kicking back on a lazy Sunday, there are plenty of reasons to introduce swivel chairs into a room.
"People mostly think of them as office furniture," says designer and television host Evette Ríos. "But they're ideal for making any kind of space multifunctional, or allowing two spaces to communicate with each other." We like to "rock and roll" in our seats, she adds. "They make you feel powerful. You feel like a badass in a swivel chair."
Designer Barry Dixon says he likes to put rotating chairs "wherever there's a television." He notes that many have a hidden mechanism, so they pass as conventional chairs. "Then you sit down and immediately realize you're in control," he says. "I love that little surprise."
The Brooklyn-born designer has developed a second career as a television personality. She is a correspondent for ABC's The Chewand host of CBS's Recipe Rehab.
Virginia-based Dixon brings Southern sophistication to homes in places from the Caribbean to Beijing. His new collections include accessories for Arteriors, fabrics for Vervain, and paint colors for C2.
Designers Evette Ríos and Barry Dixon with swivel chairs by, from left, Thayer Coggin and Moroso.
Evette Ríos admires the traditional, clean-line shape, which can be ordered in any Baker fabric or leather, or c.o.m.: "It's great for a living room," she says. "I'd do a pair in a bright print to add some fun." Barry Dixon raves about the chair, which he has used multiple times: "It's comfortable enough to relax in, yet supportive enough to work on a laptop." 31" w. x 40" d. x 34" h.; $3,549;
"This chair is small," says Ríos, "so it doesn't take up a lot of space. The velvet upholstery makes it tactile and sexy, and the color is phenomenal—yellow is one of my favorites." Dixon would place two alongside a cocktail table in lieu of a larger chair, or four around a gaming table. "If you're playing cards for a long time, you can adjust yourself easily." Also available in Beige and Green. 26" w. x 30" d. x 30" h.; $399;
Dixon praises this chair's femininity. "It even resembles a lovely lady, with its pleated skirt, drawn waist, and subtle curves," he says. "It's prim without being too traditional." Shown in linen and offered in other fabrics and finishes, it's the ideal vanity chair, says Ríos. "The hidden mechanism gives it softness and polish." 22" w. x 25" d. x 32" h.; $2,775;
For Ríos, this chair's leather upholstery outlined with visible stitching exudes sex appeal: "It's very Sharon Stone in Basic Instinct," she says. Dixon would use it in a family room as a TV-viewing chair. "It's contemporary—yet you could interject it into a colonial tableau, next to a traditional fireplace, to stir things up." Available in other colors. 32" w. x 35" d. x 43" h.; $4,180;
"This is big enough for two people to watch a movie," says Dixon. "It's like a swiveling love seat." A round chair like this can take the angle out of a bedroom corner, he adds. "It's the kind of chair you want to snuggle up in with your morning coffee," adds Ríos. Shown in Nava Red, it comes in other fabrics and c.o.m.; a matching ottoman is available. 46" w. x 43" d. x 30" h.; $3,456;
"This chair could be the modern element in a traditional room, or the traditional item in a modern room," Dixon says. "It's like the intriguing guest you want to sit next to at dinner." Ríos calls it "the Cadillac of swivel chairs—it's a beauty." Made to order with c.o.m., it's grand enough for a city home and casual enough for a vacation cottage, she says. 28" w. x 36" d. x 37" h.; $5,183;
"This is what you think of when you think of a swivel chair," says Ríos. "It's very 1960s, very Pop." She admires its self-returning swivel: "The room never looks disheveled." Dixon loves the shape—"it has more of that Sputnik, space-age feel to it." He envisions the chair in a sleek, urban glass tower, "so I could turn to the spectacular panorama." Available in other colors or c.o.m. 30" w. x 29" d. x 29" h.; $1,823;
"This one looks good from any angle," Dixon says. "With the cutout in back, it would be great in front of some groovy wallpaper." Ríos finds it provides comfort at a great price: "Perfect for a family room—what better spot to play video games?" Shown in Black, it comes in any of the firm's fabrics and leathers or c.o.m. 31" w. x 29" d. x 27" h.; $1,860;
"You're not going to watch TV in this one," says Dixon. "Instead, it would be fantastic around a farmhouse table in the country or at the beach—you can tuck them underneath when you're done." The natural material has texture and interest, says Ríos. "It looks like you've got a basket in the corner, and it turns out to be a comfortable chair." Shown in Dark Walnut, it comes in a range of colors. 26" dia. x 18" h.; $592;
"This is very comfortable," says Ríos. "You sink right into it. The arm height is nice—you have room to maneuver. And it's easy to incorporate into any space." She visualizes it in either a traditional living room or a casual family area, or even in a sunroom. "This chair relaxes anywhere," says Dixon. "It's kinetic and fun, the classic '50s tub chair updated and scaled for today." 32" w. x 36" d. x 31" h.; $4,200 c.o.m.;