This blog post was a reader request after I shared coffee and side table pairings last month- and of course, I was happy to oblige! I’ll take any opportunity to shop for furniture and talk about design. In today’s post, I rounded up a BUNCH of beautiful sofa and accent chair pairings, but I’m also talking about the design “rules” that apply to combining these two staple seating pieces. Click through for my current favorites and to get my tips, if you’re working on your own seating layout…
My biggest piece of advice for pairing accent chairs with your sofa is to consider contrast. You want the pieces to feel like they compliment each other, but can stand alone. If you can achieve one of the following contrasting elements, you’ll have a beautiful outcome…
- COLOR // Be intentional with color- I’m a fan of contrasting colors for depth, but you can also take the monochromatic look… just make sure they don’t clash.
- SHAPE // The shape of your sofa in comparison with the shape of the chair is very important. I generally stay away from perfectly repeated shapes, but make sure the overall shape feels like it belongs to the same family (example: a modern sofa pairs well with a chair that has a geometric arm style).
- MATERIAL // Another really nice contrast is the material in which the seating is constructed. A velvet sofa would look very dramatic next to an organic looking woven chair.
- STYLE // Keep in mind the overall aesthetic of the room. If you’re going for a glam look, both pieces of furniture should embody that style.
- FORM // Lastly, be mindful of form. For example, a skirted sofa (or a sofa without legs- or hidden ones) would look very nice with a chair that has an intricate or obvious leg style. A contrasting leg style between the sofa and a chair is a good indication form has been considered, and provides a nice balance of negative space.
My second piece of advice is to make sure the scale aligns. You want to make sure your sofa and accent chair is of a similar proportion that fits the scale of the room. For example, it would look visually “off” to see a smaller, apartment-sized sofa paired with a massive, oversized chair. You want to make sure the scale is consistent for all of the seating pieces in a space. Ready for my visual examples and the roundup?
Click directly on the sofas and chairs to be redirected to the source- or use the numbered links below each collage to shop…
01: magnolia chair // 02: ashby sofa // 03: silas chair // 04: everleigh sofa // 05: cane accent chair // 06: dries sofa // 07: colby chair // 08: harmony sofa // 09: slope arm swivel // 10: hoxton sofa // 11: rhea accent chair // 12: velvet sofa // 13: delaney chair // 14: slate sofa
So- that’s the first batch! We actually have the Harmony Sofa (#8) in our guest bedroom window nook. It’s very comfortable and comes in a bunch of colors and configurations. Do you have favorite pairings from the first roundup? Onto the next… clearly I found a LOT I liked.
01: bungalo armchair // 02: baxter sofa // 03: swivel rocker chair // 04: caroline love seat // 05: burn auburn chair // 06: bryant sofa // 07: zella chair // 08: ashby sofa // 09: chair with casters // 10: saguaro sofa // 11: swivel chair // 12: leather sofa // 13: bella swivel chair // 14: square arm sofa // 15: woven armchair // 16: moss sofa
Annnd- your favorites from this one are…?! We have the Baxter Sofa in our formal living room, pictured below. I love the subtle curve and petite size. It also very comfy, with down wrapped cushions.
Was that helpful? I hope so! As always, drop your questions and thoughts in the comment section below. This little exercise has me wanting to shop for more seating! I’m tempted to move the swivel chairs in our formal living room to my office, and find new chairs for the above vignette. I found so many beautiful options, it’s tempting. I think they’ll stay for now. I still love the way they look and function- plus they’re really comfortable. Happy Tuesday, friends!
PeggiSeptember 15, 2020 at 4:57 am
So. Many. Choices. Sarah, I think you’ve outdone yourself today! I love the antelope chair pairing-like a feminine print blouse and a steely gray pencil skirt. The cognac velvet sofa and the black & cane chair are phenomenal; the detail on those chair legs?! The tone-on-tone and the shapes of #9 & 10 are really compelling. You definitely came to play with all the color in that second roundup! Red stripes! I’m grinning. That #7 & 8 combo-texture, color, shape, yes ma’am. I’m digging the soft blue and chunky wooden base of #10, but those floppy arm pillows are a “no” for me. Possibly my absolute favorite sofa is #6. It seems to hit streamlined and slouchy just right. Plus a washed-looking slipcover! I wonder how the single long pillow and seat cushion would wear, though? All these beautiful options could give a person the redecorating itch!
Happy halfway through September!? WHAT?
SarahSeptember 16, 2020 at 9:30 am
It was so much fun putting all of these together (who doesn’t love virtual shopping?)! I love your reference of a feminine blouse and pencil skirt- it’s true that many of the same design “rules” in fashion are consistent in interior design. You’d think I’d be better at dressing myself. Haha! Doesn’t the red striped sofa remind you of Mark D Sikes? I was very into that one! Let’s talk about the floppy arm pillows… I feel like they’re trendy right now, I like how comfortable and casual they make a sofa look- but I’m not sure they’re super timeless. I like the modern form though. It’s not for everyone! We have a long bench seat sofa in our formal living room and it’s wearing very well- it is down, so I fluff it when I clean to keep the shape. This post definitely gave me the redecorating itch. Ha! How are we halfway through September? Yikes.
StacySeptember 15, 2020 at 5:29 am
I was immediately drawn to 11/12 of the first set, but I’ve been super into rust lately so I may have a slight bias. From the second set, DEFINITELY the green velvet sofa with the woven chair, both of those pieces are so gorgeous! I’m loving these posts by the way – seeing how a trained eye like yours pairs things together in ways I wouldn’t typically consider is so fun!
SarahSeptember 16, 2020 at 9:23 am
Rust is really big right now… and for good reason- it’s a beautiful, classic color! That green velvet sofa in the second set is one of my favorites, too :) I’m so happy you enjoyed this post, Stacy!
LaurenSeptember 15, 2020 at 8:40 am
Number 13 from the first roundup!! The form and color of that sofa bears a close resemblance to mine, however mine is a modular sectional. I adore chairs with beautiful sleek leg design, more so than sofas with legs. I’m currently mulling over an idea in my head, and that has me brainstorming layouts and seating. Ok, ok, I know you want to know! Lol. Our formal living and dining area is at the front of the house: huge room, cathedral ceilings, lots of windows, plus sliding door access to the side patio. In contrast, our living room is pretty small, at the back of the house, and opens to the small eat in area of our kitchen. That way in area is cramped because of peninsula seating. I’ve been thinking how much more fabulous it would function if the dining room was in my living room, and I move the living room to that larger more open space. Definitely it would offer more options for the kitchen whenever we get around to renovating it! This idea struck me the other day and I can’t stop myself from heading down the rabbit hole multiple times a day. It’s a real problem😂🤣😂 That second roundup is 😱😱😱I love every single pairing minus 3&4; although I’d take #3 by itself. Lol. Here’s my question: when is it ok to switch up how the rooms in your house function? What I mean is, when a home is built with each room’s specific function in mind, does it hurt your ROI to switch that up when renovating? Is there a reason I should keep the formal living and dining as those dedicated spaces? And lastly, what are your tips for creating a bright and airy room when working with a large, darker piece of furniture? I would assume the answer to that is to contrast with lighter pairings for accent chairs, lighter wood tones, light walls…but I don’t know if I’m on the right track. Man oh man…I’m going to be thinking about these pairings all day!! They’re so good Sarah! Yes to the swivel chairs in your office btw, I think that would be stunning! I’m glad your office is still on the brain; I hope that’s next when you’ve finished the guest room! Have a fabulous Tuesday! My apologies for the ramble🤪
LaurenSeptember 15, 2020 at 9:02 am
Also… 9&10 from the second roundup 😍😍 So good!! Love the shape, love the earthy organic muted colors, adore the subtle contrast…you’re speaking my language with this one. All of them are incredible together…you make it hard to decide on a look. Lol.
SarahSeptember 16, 2020 at 9:03 am
9 & 10 might be my very favorite from that roundup!
SarahSeptember 16, 2020 at 9:22 am
That’s such a gorgeous chair! Of course I want to know what kind of design brainstorming you’re doing :) Ok, ok… I love your plan and feel like that is a much better use of space. The traffic flow would seem to be more functional based on the proximity to your kitchen. Hear me out on #4 (the striped sofa)- that gave me MAJOR Mark D Sikes vibes, at a deep discount. It’s actually one of my favorites. lol! I know it’s not for everyone though. My philosophy for designating rooms a function is this: do what feels best for your family and the home. I actually think it can increase ROI to determine a better floor plan. Eventually we’ll be moving our laundry room to a totally different space in our house, and the existing laundry room will become a mudroom (which is located right off of our garage entry). You are absolutely spot on for your bright room question… pull in lighter elements that balance the heavy (darker) piece of furniture… or just embrace the dark moody vibe altogether. PS. my office is always on my brain. Haha! Emmett and I agreed the dining room is probably next (since it’s a blank slate right now), immediately followed by my office! Hope you’re having a good week! xo
MichelleSeptember 15, 2020 at 8:55 am
Excellent pairing and I’m really really loving the combo of 7 & 8 in your first set. I wish I could afford that chair! I’m not into the sofas with those types of arm pillows, but I was really appreciative of how you made it work and look good with that particular combo.
MeganSeptember 15, 2020 at 3:05 pm
Anthropologie carries a very similar chair as #7, The Havana leather chair, which I recently bought and it’s amazing—it’s style + comfort combined and so good! At $1500 it’s still expensive & an investment but cheaper than #7!
SarahSeptember 16, 2020 at 8:58 am
Yes! It’s a beautiful chair… are you talking about this one, Megan? https://bit.ly/3kkRLw0 it definitely has a more modern look with the mid century frame.
SarahSeptember 16, 2020 at 9:08 am
Thanks Michelle! I also love that one… that chair is incredible! Just for fun- I tried to find a budget alternative: https://bit.ly/33yuKiu
CarolynSeptember 15, 2020 at 1:29 pm
Your post today is right up my alley! This was so helpful, Sarah. I do have one question for you, what if you are pairing an accent chair with a sofa & couch? Is it harmonious for the sofa & couch to contrast as well as the accent chair?
SarahSeptember 16, 2020 at 9:02 am
I love that, Carolyn! Question for you… in my mind, a sofa and a couch are the same thing. I had a design professor who would get SO angry when someone used the word couch because the design term is sofa. Hahah! For the record, I say both because they’re interchangeable. Anyway- I just want to make sure I’m answering your question correctly. I think you’re referring to a sofa and a loveseat? If that’s the case, I think they have to go in one precise direction or another- definite contrast (like the chair examples)… or matching / nearly matching (so they feel like they belong together). Does that help? I hope I understood that correctly :) xo
Cathy PinkSeptember 16, 2020 at 9:32 am
This was so informative Sarah! Thanks for putting so much effort into your posts. I’m actually currently shopping for for two accent chairs and a sofa to replace my sectional with in order to open up some space. I’m having a dilemma on stationary vs. swivel chairs. I love the look of your swivels but would you recommend them to place in a family room that gets a lot of use? We typically watch tv in our family room and I worry that they not be as comfortable as stationary chairs due to reduced size. I have my eye on the Tegan (inspired by the ones in your living room) or Caitlin style from Interior Define for swivels or the Maxwell for stationary. I’m obsessed with your ORC living room transformation and it’s giving me all the inspiration to go swivel but would love your feedback on practicality.
SarahSeptember 16, 2020 at 9:42 am
It’s my pleasure, Cathy! I’m happy my posts are helpful :) I highly recommend swivels, if you have the space for them. They’re versatile because you can swivel in one direction or another based on the floor plan or focal points… for example- I opted for swivels in our living room so you could turn and face the sofa (to have a conversation) or turn toward the fireplace (for warmth). I’ve found they’re great in living spaces that are used for TV watching, too. You can either turn inward to the seating conversation or away toward the TV. To make them more comfortable, you could always float some ottomans in the space that can be pulled up as a foot rest. Some swivel glider chairs even have hidden recliners, if you’re looking for a built-in foot rest (that doesn’t look ugly). All of that to say- swivels are even more practical than standard occasional chairs.
EmilySeptember 16, 2020 at 11:25 am
Do you think that mixing arm styles when you have a skirted couch and a skirted chair (so that it can swivel) looks okay? Do you think it is more important to select contrasting textures/colors when there are similar but not identical shapes? This post is thought provoking as always (especially since I just placed an order for a Lee industries sofa)…
SarahSeptember 18, 2020 at 9:16 pm
Emily- you are going to LOVE your Lee sofa. We have a few pieces from Lee Industries and they’re all very well made and beautiful. I used to spec their furniture and visit their showroom often when I worked at a design firm. Amazing choice! To answer your question about pairing… I think as long as you have enough contrast that it feels intentional, you should be good. Whether that comes in the form of arm style, color, or texture, is up to you. Personally, I like to mix the arm style, but that’s just a personal preference. Hope this helps :) xo
LaurenSeptember 16, 2020 at 9:01 pm
Can you do a dresser and nightstand combo too!!
SarahSeptember 18, 2020 at 8:55 pm
Absolutely! I love that idea, Lauren! :)
Clare GibbonsSeptember 19, 2020 at 4:27 pm
Hello! I think I’m the reader who requested this post. Thank you so much!
SarahSeptember 21, 2020 at 9:20 am
Ahhh, hi Clare! Always happy to share reader request posts :) I hope it was helpful! xo
Peggi ANovember 24, 2020 at 8:19 am
Hi Sarah! Great article. I love the Baxter sofa and good to see your comments on Lee sofas as well. They have a sectional I like. Stuck in my decision though!!! Sofas or sectional for our family room. It’s on open space next to the kitchen. Are two sofas too formal? Love how some designers do two different sofas. What are your thoughts on two different sofas? Is that look hard to pull off? And what about sectionals?
SarahNovember 25, 2020 at 10:37 am
I think it totally depends on the look and feel you’re going for. Two sofas is a bit more formal, but can also be comfortable and welcoming. Whereas a sectional is certainly more casual. You also have to determine which fits into your floor plan and best fits your space :) From an aesthetic point-of-view, both can be styled beautifully.
Sahil KohliJanuary 24, 2021 at 11:39 pm
Hi Sarah, your blog is really helpful with such great details to look out for. I am planning to buy a three-seater modern sofa with tapered legs for my new home and I am in such dilemma if accent chairs with similar (tapered) legs would be a little too much for the living room, or should I rather go for a a skirted accent chair/sofa chair to pair with my sofa? I want to be cautious that my sofa is not over powered by the accent chairs :). Any suggestions?
SarahJanuary 25, 2021 at 9:04 am
Hi Sahil! I’m so happy to hear that. It’s really personal preference, but I would go with something in a different leg or base style. Contrast is always a good thing :)
rekhaFebruary 13, 2021 at 5:10 pm
Hi Sarah – you have some many wonderful choices. Love them all. For an indecisive person like me it’s so hard to pick. Do you have any sofa color recommendations for navy blue accent chairs ?
SarahFebruary 15, 2021 at 9:20 am
Thank you so much! I love the idea of doing lighter chairs with a blue sofa… check out my recent living room update (I used white chairs with a blue sofa): https://roomfortuesday.com/formal-living-room-updates/
LindaApril 16, 2021 at 3:42 pm
I found this article (and so glad I found it!) because I just bought great accent chairs off FB marketplace. They perfectly contrast my sofa in terms of color and leg/base style but the height of the chairs are throwing me off. They are about 5 inches taller than my sofa. I know you mentioned scale in this post but still questioning this!
SarahApril 19, 2021 at 7:23 pm
I’m so glad to hear that, Linda! 5″ isn’t a huge amount, but definitely noticeable. I think it really depends how they look in person, how they function, and how close they are in proximity to one another. If you like them, I’d just embrace them!