After More Than a Year of WFH, These Are Hands Down the Best Desk Chairs
Experts share their favorite finds to save your spine.
Published Jun 16, 2021 1:00 AM
Working from home comes with many pros and cons—something that hasn’t changed over the course of the pandemic. Pro: You can get from your bed to your desk in under five minutes (and steal a few extra minutes of shut-eye). Con: Your posture is suffering. So if 2020 was the year of making do with makeshift workspaces, 2021 is all about curating a home office that you love (and will last).
Whether you’re ready to move off the couch or are committed to converting your dining table from cocktail control center to laptop landing pad, make it official with the best desk chairs. Rattan seats are cute, but they aren’t exactly comfortable for sitting days on end. And barstools are great for happy hour—but not for eight hours of back-to-back calls. To help settle into the new normal, we found eight task chairs beloved by both interior designers and Domino editors to reset your remote workstation.
A Few Things to Keep in Mind
Seat Height and Depth: We like to think a well-designed WFH space is not complete without a chair that looks good from every angle. But before exploring color options or innovative mechanisms, first pay close attention to the size of your desk, which will typically run 30 inches tall. The ideal seat height, width, and depth should provide ample support, leave enough room underneath your workstation (no bruised knees), and enable your elbows to rest evenly with your keyboard. Test it out by popping a squat—while your back is pressed up against the backrest, your feet should be flush with the floor.
Armrest and Adjustability: If you’re always typing away, you’ll likely prefer an office chair with armrests to give your wrists a much-deserved break. But if space is tight and your desk is small, a slim, armless silhouette will likely be a better fit. “I think armrests are a personal choice,” says Allison Petty, design director at Hyphen Co. “I don’t require them, and they do make sliding the chair under a desk a little easier.”
According to Petty, the secret to a sweet seat is adjustability. Most furniture designed for sitting takes a one-size-fits-all approach, but task chairs are unique in that they often feature built-in ergonomics. Petty suggests selecting a chair that can be easily altered to best fit the proportions of your body. Bonus points if it swivels and leans back—keep an eye out for multiple levers.
Material: Ultimately the best desk chairs prioritize functionality, but by no means do they have to look as drab as that sounds. Avoid the round-the-clock corporate day job look by picking a bright hue—our finds, below, offer a wide range of colorways!—or playful pattern. No matter your preference, Petty says it has to be upholstered. The most popular options include fabric, vinyl, plastic, mesh and—Petty’s favorite—leather for a luxe look. “Don’t even consider a non-upholstered option,” she stresses. “The extra cushion is going to make the biggest difference when you have to sit all day long.”
Our Top Picks
If You Have a Small Space: Modern Slope Office Chair, West Elm
This chair is a favorite of mine for smaller apartment workspaces. The silhouette is stylish and comfortable yet space saving thanks to its slim, no-fuss design. The last thing you want in a tighter environment is a seat too large that ends up getting in your way. —Megan Hopp, interior designer
If You’re a Sci-Fi Fan: Bowery Management Chair, Laura Davidson
This chair has a wide range of ergonomic adjustments that make working from home as comfortable as possible. You can control the height, recline position, arms, and backrest, which is great for all shapes and sizes. I’m really short, so being able to adjust my seat and armrest height is paramount to having my core supported and reducing back pain. Aesthetically, I love the Star Trek vibe. —Becky Shea, interior designer
If You Want the Best of Both Worlds: Eames Group Chair, Herman Miller
For many people we work with, we have found that the WFH life is going to continue (even post-COVID), so investing in the right chair is key. You spend half your life in bed, but your office chair likely comes in second. The Eames Group Chair is a classic—comfortable, attractive, and built to last. We love the brown leather as a classic option, but the color offerings are great, so you can get something that matches your current setup. —Allison Petty, design director, Hyphen & Co.
If You Need Your Seat to Do Double Duty: Jaguar Chair, Armen Living
I’m a firm believer that dining chairs make the best WFH chairs, especially if you’re in a tiny studio or one-bedroom apartment. No arms means it soaks up less physical and visual space and can easily pull double duty elsewhere—at a kitchen table or even in a corner as a catchall for clothes and books. —Lydia Geisel, associate editor, home, Domino
If You Have a Flair for the Dramatic: Channel Green Velvet Chair, CB2
I’m really into the color green right now. Add a channel back and I am in love. Having a chair that swivels is helpful in that it lets you turn around easily rather than pushing back. —Sara Gilbane Sullivan, interior designer
If You’re Not Into the Corporate Look: Parsons Armchair, Ballard Designs
One thing I’ve learned is that upholstered dining chairs with arms are often more comfortable than ones sold for the office and more appealing—especially if your desk is in your living room or bedroom. This option offers a relaxed but sophisticated look and comes in hundreds of different fabrics. I would add a soft lumbar pillow for ultimate comfort. —Sean Leffers, interior designer
If You Want a No-Waste Option: Cesca Chair, Marcel Breuer
All the seats in our Wing spaces are both beautiful and comfortable when you’re sitting for extended periods of time. We love the Marcel Breuer Cesca chairs because they are functional and stylish. Chairish has a ton of options, and the beauty is that it’s local, so if you have wipes and a mode of transportation, you can easily pick them up. —Laetitia Gorra, head of interior design, the Wing
If You Can’t Sit Still: Mid-Century Modern Swivel Chair, Art Leon
I have a tendency to fidget during video calls, and this chair’s stationary mid-century modern base can keep me on-camera while still allowing me to swivel a full 360 degrees on breaks. There’s also a wide range of upholstered choices, from colorful velvet to faux leather. —Morgan Bulman, associate editor, commerce, Domino
Pro Tips for Styling Desk Chairs
- If the adjustability factor isn’t worth the splurge, MacGyver a pouf into a footrest or a pillow into a booster seat; Gorra’s trick is to reach for a sheepskin, which she says will “lend a little more cushion for all those Zoom calls.”
- Avoid clashing colors (saturated hues work well with natural woods or neutral whites) and try mixing styles (pair a sculptural mid-century modern thrift with a traditional or industrial table).
- Don’t forget to surround yourself with items that spark a smile, whether it’s adding extra light from a task lamp or pasting together a mood board to keep the creative juices flowing and the WFH blues at bay.
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