Do you have fond memories of your father or grandfather spending quality time with the family from his favorite oversized leather recliner? It was a coveted spot in the house, forbidden, except perhaps when you curled up in his lap to watch an evening television program or afternoon ball game after a Sunday dinner. It was probably his favorite spot in the 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. For years media portrayed dad’s recliner as a hideous beast that only he loved and occupied.

Well, not anymore. If you want to bring extreme comfort, convenience, and style back into your home media room, den, or living room, modern recliners have come a long way. People with all kinds of tastes, family sizes, and age-ranges are beginning to incorporate single-chair recliners into their home furnishings.

Recliners of Today

Today’s recliners combine all the comfort you expect from Dad’s favorite chair, with the chic design elements and modern features to please the most sophisticated furniture connoisseur. Reclining is just the beginning. They are available with numerous add-on features, power options, tray tables, storage, and lighting, in a huge variety of styles, colors, upholsteries, and sizes. Many of today’s recliners are designed to specifically complement your lifestyle, for example, with specially designed extra lumbar support, power lift to assist with mobility, space-saving recline mechanisms, and the option to group multiple chairs together in a home theater configuration.

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So what should you look for when shopping for a new recliner online? Here are a few suggestions to help you find the one that meets all of your expectations and will give you lasting value for years to come.

Factors to Consider

Look for a quality frame: The quality of a piece of furniture starts with a quality frame, and you want one that is strong and supportive, especially when it comes to rockers and recliners. Look for a frame made of a hardwood such as oak, beech, ash, maple or cherry. Check if the wood was kiln dried; this ensures the frame won’t crack as it adjusts to various climates. Recliners with lift mechanisms often require a steel frame or seat box. Also, check if the recliner comes with a warranty for the frame. Many manufacturers will offer a lifetime warranty on the frame, and most will offer at least 10 years.

Check out the reclining mechanism: The reclining mechanism is one of the most important elements of your new chair since it is the part of the furniture that receives the most wear. Test it out in a store or a friend’s house if convenient. You want a chair with a reclining mechanism that is easy to reach and easy to recline. If the standard recline positions and mechanism of a manual recliner chair are not to your liking, consider recliners with power recline. Power recline is effortless and allows you to recline in an infinite array of positions for relaxing or viewing. You also want something that is as smooth and quiet as possible…inquire about these features when you talk to your Comfort Specialist. Also when considering recline, you will need to decide if you prefer a chaise style footrest—one that has no space between the footrest and the chair body when reclined.

octane seating quality

Size up your space: Before purchasing a recliner, measure the space where the chair will ideally 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. If the recliner you have your eye on requires power for such features as power recline and/or lighting, be sure you can conveniently locate your chairs near a wall outlet without causing a tripping hazard with the power cord. Also, be sure to measure the doorways and/or hallways that your recliner will have to fit through to get into your home. If space is a problem, find out if the back comes off of the recliner to be re-assembled in your home. This is often the case. Take note of the angles and be sure to measure everything twice!

How does it fit: Recliners don’t have to be a one-size-fits-all purchase. There are recliners built specially for large or tall body frames, more petite women’s frames, oversized frames, and even recliners especially for children — most medium-sized recliners, however, will work for the average-sized person. You want the chair to fit in the headrest, arms, leg rest, and lumbar. The frame design and padding tend to create the fit of the recliner and varies from model to model, and manufacturer to manufacturer.

seating layout for home theater

Is there a warranty: Also ask about the warranty included on the reclining mechanism — most reputable manufacturers offer some kind of warranty for this part of the chair.

Available options: Consider how you will use your new modern recliner. How important are things like cup holders, console storage, or tray tables? If this is for a den or home theater, how about some rail lighting for the ultimate in modern design and convenience. You may want to consider heat, massage, or even a motorized headrest lift for someone with mobility challenges.

Material Options

Recliners come covered in a variety of materials, so consider which of the many available upholstery options best fits your lifestyle. Leather will offer that richer, more mature look, and provide years of durability and softness with proper maintenance. Fabric typically allows you to be more creative with patterns and colors. And then there is a range of bonded leathers and microfiber blends to meet any need. Recent advances in textiles have given furniture coverings a big boost in their durability and ability to be cleaned and maintained.

Fabrics: If a fabric covering suits your fancy and matches the décor of your home or home theater, choose a fabric that not only looks nice but will be able to withstand years of use. Cotton looks lovely because it takes and holds dye very well, but cotton also stains quite easily. Nylon and rayon both resist stains better than most other fabric types. It is a good idea to consider fabrics that are a blend. When purchasing fabric recliners, be sure to invest in a stain-resistant finish option to protect your chair from spills, dirt, paw prints, and stains.

Microfiber: When it comes to bang for your buck, microfiber may be your best bet. With a nice soft suede feel, microfiber is smooth, plush, and comfy and has excellent stain-resistant properties. It is more durable than anything other than leather and is the easiest to care for. It generally costs more than traditional fabrics but less than leather.

red fabric theater seat

Leather: Leather is classic and durable, but it’s important to understand what you are getting in a leather recliner. They must be maintained to the manufacturer’s specifications for years of stain-free softness. Carefully follow the recommendations for protecting and cleaning your leather. Bonded leather is a durable and stain-resistant option—oftentimes specific to each manufacturer—that features a blend of leather and other materials such as polyester to create an extremely durable leather-like upholstery. Additionally, many manufacturers offer a “leather match” option, which features leather on the seat, arms, and footrest (wherever the body comes into contact with the chair), with a matching vinyl on the sides and back perfectly matched to the look and feel of the leather. Building the recliner in this way, instead of using leather all around, helps to keep the price lower. Also, because leather stretches, if it is used around the parts that move, you may end up with sagging upholstery.

Now you know that your home can be graced with the presence of a modern recliner. Single-chair recliners can now give you the comfort, style, and convenience you have been seeking, without the stigma or bulkiness of your grandpa’s recliner. Enjoy watching movies, television, working from your laptop, or playing video games with the kids, all from the roost of your new modern recliner.

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