What is an Occasional Chair?

Jessica Ellis
Jessica Ellis

An occasional chair is as functional in purpose as it is in name: it’s a chair that’s meant to be used on occasion. Typically a wood-framed chair with the frame exposed, these chairs are simple and complementary to a wide variety of design styles. Meant as accessories to your furniture sets, occasional chairs are a great way to solve seating issues when you have visitors or guests.

Woman with a flower
Woman with a flower

It is unclear when the term “occasional chair” originated, but it certainly fits the usefulness of the chair. If you have more than the usual amount of people in the house, this is a nice alternative to folding chairs or simply having someone sit on the floor. The beauty of occasional chairs is that they are easy to match with design styles, so while they may not be of the same original set as most of your furniture, they are neutral enough to prevent interfering with the overall style.

Most occasional chairs are quite simple, usually made from wood. They are often lightly upholstered or cushioned in a neutral color. They are often carved and shaped in a variety of simple styles, made to resemble more complicated design structures without being an accent piece in themselves. The goal of most occasional chairs is to blend in, so they are often available in dozens of keyed-down versions of popular styles.

Alternatively, a brightly patterned or visually arresting chair may be used as an accent piece in a room. Meant to add a splash of color or artistic flair, this type of occasional chair can draw the eye and call out a specific design element in the room. Stand-alone occasional chairs are often found in eclectic or funk-inspired designs.

Rather than being a specific type of chair, an occasional chair is more of a concept. The term can refer to anything that goes with a furniture set, but is not actually part of it. They can be used in dining rooms, gathering rooms, or even bedrooms. You will often find occasional chairs in hotel rooms for use as additional seating.

Most furniture stores carry occasional chairs, and budget versions are available at large warehouse stores such as Ikea. As the style and materials are so variable, the price range for this type of chair is quite wide. A simple wood and cushion version can be found for about $100 US Dollars (USD) and up. If you are bargain-hunting, occasional chairs are easily found at second hand stores and thrift stores, and you can often get one for less than half the price of new models.

Jessica Ellis
Jessica Ellis

With a B.A. in theater from UCLA and a graduate degree in screenwriting from the American Film Institute, Jessica is passionate about drama and film. She has many other interests, and enjoys learning and writing about a wide range of topics in her role as a wiseGEEK writer.

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