Everything to know about cocktail chairs

Cocktail chair

A cocktail chair is an accent chair, which means that it’s mostly bought for its aesthetic appeal and not its functional duties.

Photo credit: Pool

Not that you need to be told this, but a chair is a type of home furniture that sits only one person.

There are many different types of chairs available. From the regular armchairs and wingback chairs in your living room, to the dining chairs in your dining room and nook, down to the outdoor chairs in your balcony, garden and backyard.

There are also tub chairs, office chairs and cocktail chairs, (among others, of course).

Let’s talk about cocktail chairs.

Contrary to its name, a cocktail chair is not a chair that you sit on when having cocktails in a bar. It’s not a high chair but a lounge chair – more stout than tall, more formal than casual.

Here’s everything else you need to know about them, plus how to style them for your home.

What it is

A cocktail chair is an accent chair. What differentiates it from other accent chairs is that it’s a small chair and has no arms.

Cocktail chairs first made their appearance in the 1950s. This is why, until this very day, they still have their distinct mid-century style of thick seating, a somewhat cupped back and those dainty pointed legs that jut out at an angle.

Every cocktail chair out there looks the same – they share the same original design. The standard dimensions are a height of 72 cm, width of 65 cm and depth of 64 cm. Its seating depth is 52 cm and seating height is 42 cm. (Give or take 5 cm.)

Some cocktail chairs are also bigger than others, but they can never get as big as, say, a wingback chair or a regular dining table chair.

A cocktail chair neither comes with a footrest nor a lumbar pillow, it comes on its own.

Why to buy one

A cocktail chair is an accent chair, which means that it’s mostly bought for its aesthetic appeal and not its functional duties.

Because it’s a small chair, it can fit in any nook of your home without ever looking out of place – you can literally carry it from one room to the next. Its mid-century styling also means that it readily complements the styling in your home, and blends right in.

You can buy a cocktail chair for your living or dining room, bedroom, corridor, personal nook or any empty corner of your home that needs pizzazz.

How to incorporate it in your home

A cocktail chair can be incorporated in just about any room in your home, as long as you have the space for it.

However, there are some rooms where your accent chair will be but a mere styling accessory (for its aesthetic appeal) and others where you can actually sit on the chair (functional duty).

Rooms where you can use the chair (functional duty)

You can use it in your living room, for extra seating and also to add some pizzazz to the space. My personal suggestion is to style a pair of cocktail chairs around an accent table.

You can actually move this entire ensemble away from the living room and set up a conversation zone in another part of your living room. Say, on the balcony or next to a large window, or in front of your fireplace. Even better if you define your conversation zone with a stylish area rug.

Another option would be to have one cocktail chair floating about your living room, for the extra seating.

You can also use it in your bedroom. Say, at the furthest wall from your bed or in an empty corner of your bedroom. Not only will style this bare space, you can also sit on the chair when putting on or taking off your shoes and socks. Or when you want to unwind while staring out the window.

Be wary that it doesn’t a hold-all clutter for clothes.

Rooms where you cannot use it

You cannot use your cocktail chair as a dining room chair. That’s because of its dimensions. Remember, a cocktail chair has a seating height of 42 cm. The seating height of a regular dining chair is about 50 cm. This makes the cocktail chair uncomfortably low to sit on.

These dimensions are also the reason why you cannot use the chair as your working chair in your home office. Your desk and laptop will be too far away for your comfort.

I also wouldn’t advise you to buy it for your reading or other nook for your personal private pursuits, either. It’s a shallow armless chair.

It will not support you when you want to sink in and get comfortable on it. Heck, you can’t even fold your legs on it and cosy up with a blanket.

If you must use your chair in any of these rooms, then place it there merely for its aesthetic appeal, to elevate the space.

An example of such a space is your entryway. If you happen to have one of those wide entryways that are in desperate need of some warmth and cosiness, then a cocktail chair will do the work.

Pair it with a runner and an oversized floor vase to complete the ensemble.

How to personalise it

The design and dimensions of cocktail chairs are mostly standard.

The only way to personalise yours is to select materials that reflect our personal style. Remember also that it’s an accent chair – its styling is to complement your home as much as it contrasts it.

That said, you can use upholstery such as Ankara, velvet, suede or faux leather in a variety of strong solid colours (imagine a sunshine yellow chair in velvet).

The legs can be wooden but with different finishes such as distressed, gold, matte black or glossy white.

You can also have the back with buttons or tufted, and round instead of angular edges.

Cocktail chairs start at around Sh18,000.