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How’s everyone doing this freezing cold week? Wearing oversized sweater ponchos and leggings like me? (Yeah, yeah, leggingsarenotpants, but you don’t see beerisnotdinner stopping me from making that happen occasionally, either.)

Anyway… I’m still on the hunt for an office chair. For my new office design plan, the idea has been to get something on the small side that provides decent back support (I’m finding that tension in my back almost always results in stiff shoulders). But as I’ve begun doing my research on the elusive comfortable and stylish office chair, I have run into a number of dilemmas that are slowing me down in making my selection:

Style. Why do comfortable chairs have to always be so damn ugly? Ideally, I’d like it to swivel (without wheels) since my handmade desk is L-shaped and provides plenty of room to move, but that seems to be a significant limitation for design aesthetics. Even super expensive chairs that are way out of my budget aren’t really overwhelming me in terms of style. I’m sure for the price, it probably feels like sitting on Adam Levine’s lap*, but really… can’t I have something that’s both attractive and doesn’t feel like a reject from the Game of Thrones set?

Availability. I love the internet, but some things just can’t be conveyed all that well in an online review. Comfort is one of those things, since lumbar support on the same chair can vary pretty greatly between two differently-sized and differently-weighted people. And my 5’2″ frame seems to be something many office chair designers never regularly anticipated. I’d prefer to sit on one of these chairs to give them the ol’ sit test**, but that compromises the amount of selection I have available.

Price. As always, the ever-present budget is something I always have to keep in mind. It’s not so much that I’m not willing to invest in a piece that I’ll be parking my butt in for a majority of my work day, it’s that I don’t want to have to spend it two or three times to find the right piece. Add up costs of shipping when things don’t quite work out (or rather, just the hassle of shipping things back), and my motivation to make this a one-and-done sort of deal has been somewhat important.

*as in, amazing… duh

**”the ol’ sit test”… hmm. Now doesn’t that seem like something you should go around your office repeating? Also be sure to mention the Adam Levine thing when you do. People will love it.

My Picks (So Far)

office chairs 1

1. I tried out my favorite place and couldn’t find the right comfort-to-style ratio, but the budget was just right for this dining chair.

2. I’ve been eyeballing this chair from Wayfair, and it suits both style and price (and I hear they are comfy, but it’s not traditionally used as an office chair). But since it’s not something I can try out in person, and it is molded plastic, I’m hesitant to pull the trigger.

3 & 4 are both from West Elm, but I haven’t looked at them in person yet. The Saddle chair is definitely a top contender, especially since it has a sneaky swivel built in (and looks like a normal chair otherwise). Surprisingly, the Bentwood chair is on wheels but not as ugly as the other 3,000+ wheeled options I’ve seen.

office chairs 2

5 & 6 are both from Target, but it’s the ugly chrome wheels I’m having issues with. The shape of this cushion is nice though, and this one simply looks really comfortable to sit in (though I’d be hesitant to get something in white).

7. I also like the “austin” chair from cb2. I’d have to probably recover it at some point, but the chair is low-profile and won’t  take up much space.

8. Finally, I like the shape and well-worn look of this Airgo chair from PBteen (the armless version, even more than the Target one), but it too has the chrome issue that I’m less than thrilled with.

How about you? Any suggestions on where to look for the right chair? Have you tried out any of the above with good results? Would love to know what to check out next!

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  1. I have the molded plastic chair in white as our dining chairs (from Amazon, but super similar to the Wayfair ones) and they are SHOCKINGLY comfortable and have a lot of give in them. I would totally use it as a desk chair. :)

    1. Sweet. I just saw the chairs I’ve been eyeballing on sale too, so maybe it’s worth trying out! Thanks!

  2. Maybe a full service medical supply store. They have ergonomically correct seating available.
    Or a large exercise ball which helps with posture and core strength.

  3. This might be a crazy idea, but have you considered spray painting or refinishing the chrome parts on the Target chairs? If that’s the main part holding you back, you could maybe do that before the chair is assembled and tape or bag off any non-chrome areas.

    1. Yeah… I’m thinking about it, but it’s still not my #1 option. I’d rather find non-wheel legs. Good thinking though!

  4. Hi! I’ve never commented before but I always love reading your posts because as a single 20-something with a super cute pup and a on-its-way-to-super-cute house I can almost always relate.

    I have been working on my “office” for the past few months and just got the West Elm Saddle Chair after being obsessed with it for months (lucked out and got it 20% off). I love it! I wanted to avoid wheels that might damage my wood floors and the swivel seat makes it super easy to get in and out of the chair without sliding the chair in and out. The padding isn’t super plush but it is way more comfortable than other office chairs and I feel like the chair makes me have good posture. The only other thing is that the wood of the legs has a little more red undertones than in the photo.

    Hope that helps! Can’t wait to see your finished results.

  5. The Saddle Chair has my vote! It’s definitely the best looking, and I’m not sure you’ll find another chair that looks as good and swivels.

    1. Yeah, I like it a lot. The only concern with that chair is if it’s going to be physically large (I can’t quite tell from the pictures online). I want something that’s low profile and really petite so that it doesn’t overtake the corner.

      1. Dana at http://www.housetweaking.com/ is sitting in the the West Elm Saddle Chair in her profile pic, and the chair doesn’t look big at all. She might be a little taller than you, but I’m not sure. Aesthetically, the Saddle chair is my favorite from your list. Also, I don’t know if I could sit all day at a desk in a chair that doesn’t have any padding. Good luck! Can’t wait to see what you settle on.

        1. Good eye! And you’re right, looks pretty petite. I’ll see if they have an in-store display near me and try it out if I can!

  6. I really like the grey swivel chair from Target. Since it’s likely to arrive disassembled, perhaps you could spray paint the chrome bits in a brushed nickel or oil-rubbed bronze finish? (I feel silly saying you should spray paint something brand new, but I couldn’t find a desk chair that I really liked for months, so I feel your pain!)

    1. Agreed. Toning down the chrome would make it much more attractive. Maybe I’ll take a trip to Target soon to see if it’s comfy enough.

  7. I was just going through the same search, I wanted a stylish desk chair that didn’t look like an office chair. In my case I needed wheels as my desk is in a carpeted area and the current stylish dining chair I was using was hard to move on the carpet. I love the striped west elm one you showed, if it only had wheels… Anyways I settled on this one in white: http://www.wayfair.com/Boss-Office-Products-BossTask-Chair-B330-BOP1596.html It arrives tomorrow, I can’t wait to try it out.

    Good luck in your search.

  8. I needed two chairs for my sewing room. One for the machine is a stationary parsons chair from PB. I just need to be straight. The other is the ugly rolling chair from Amazon. It has the vented back and black legs. I am all about looks for a room, however, I knew I couldn’t do that with my “office” chair. I use this one for computer and some hand cutting, bills, etc. When all else fails go with a top seller and read the reviews. :) (You being small would dwarf in this–I am 5’9″. Not that you were lovin’ this one anyway I’m sure!) Gotta’ love Prime!


    Now….if you have wood floors do not think rolling is the way to go. I chewed up my wood floors and rolled the poly and color right down. It is faded in these areas and pieces of the poly are gone. (And yes, this is a good wood floor and professional application, so don’t let others tell you it will be fine!) I ended up having to get two sisal rugs for under the chair and can only roll a tiny bit and even then it gets caught up. So I would stick with stationary.

    1. Yeah, I had similar thoughts about a rolling chair. I have a rug underneath the spot the chair would sit on (currently using an ugly, OLD folding chair, which is awful), but I don’t think I’d get any use out of the rolling feature. Which just makes an already ugly feature completely useless too. The swivel part is what I’d love to have, but it just doesn’t seem to be something that a lot of chairs have without the wheels. The only downside to the West Elm one is that it looks kind of large.

      1. However, with West Elm you can go to a store to try it! I didn’t know you could get swivel and not roll–cool! Good luck!

  9. I really love the saddle chair! I could see that fitting in really well with the other existing furniture and color scheme. I like the grey target chair too, but I worry about quality sometimes with target furniture, maybe that’s just me!
    I have a molded plastic chair, although mine has arms. I love it.. it’s pretty comfortable, and at least mine you can fit a pillow behind you to provide extra support if needed. I’m not sure if it would still be comfortable after a long stretch of working, since mine is in our living room so it’s just for short stretches of sitting.

  10. If you’re looking to try out the molded plastic chairs, try World Market. They have options in black and white that you can try out in store to test for comfort–though they are lacking in any available Adam Levine. Sigh.

    1. IMO, Adam Levine should simply come standard with any office chair. That, or Zach Braff (my fave!).

  11. OK, I may be the odd man out, but I like an adjustable chair. On wheels. I spend all day at a computer and need to have my chair at exactly the right height with back support and the wheels help me move it to right where I need it. It’s important enough for me to be comfortable that I spent $100 on an ergonomic mouse. Now, in the interest of full disclosure, my chair at work is not high end but it is comfortable.

    If they would let me buy what I wanted, I’d probably go with a Herman Miller Aeron chair. Check out Craigslist. You might be surprised what you find.

  12. You can always spray paint the metal on the chair to get the color you like. That it is what I did. Office chairs are ugly, yet I needed comfort and function.
    I have painted a lot of metal. If you go that route wipe it down with rubbing alcohol first you’ll get better adhesion. Hope this helped.

  13. I’m in this exact same dilemma right now… I’ve been working from home a few days a week for the past year and am just coming to terms with the fact that the reason my neck and shoulders hurt at night on days I am home is due to my chair. I’m using the chair that came with the desk – part of a bedroom set I got in high school. My current chair has no arms and no upper back support, and I think that’s my issue (we have ergonomic chairs at my office). I’ve checked out all your options and I’m waiting for the WE saddle chair to go on sale. That seems to be the only that will hopefully not be a pain in the neck :)

  14. I think all your options would do well as long as they fit you!

    Don’t get put off white leather / plastic / pleather; it’s shockingly easy to keep clean. My living room suite is white leather; it gets a wipe with a damp cloth and saddle soap when it start to look tired or I’ve spilt something. My dining room chairs are white pleather, they get wiped with a damp rag and dishwasher soap. Easy peasy.

    In my eyes the white is a bonus… I hate to clean and in earlier times I would wait until something got so dirty it took ages to clean. On white it shows quickly but one swipe of the rag and you’re done! No more deep cleaning the black leather couch because it got so dirty it was sticky… Yes, I gross myself out sometimes too LOL

    I’m also on the hunt for a good office chair, and I’m mightily tempted by the Skruvsta, but at 5’10” I have the opposite problem you do. And, although I <3 Ikea, there are times I feel I just have too much of it in my home….

    1. I feel ya. I love Ikea and will sometimes avoid them just because I already have plenty of them in my home. But they are such smart pieces sometimes! Good point too on the white pleather. I’ll reconsider!

  15. A local thrift store occasionally gives away office chairs – with luck, I find a particularly nice one. These are some great ones, though, especially that “austin” chair. Love it!

  16. I love my bungee-cord office chair from CB2 – I’ve had it for about 7 years. I finally put a pillow across the bungees on the seat – it gets a little old sitting on them after a while, but the ones on the back are super supportive. And you can bounce up and down as you work, which breaks up the day a bit…

    1. The idea of bouncing up and down in my office chair just because is such an amusing idea to me. Thanks for the tip!

  17. Hi Sarah! I’m personally thinking of #2 from wayfair but unsure about it being plastic and not comfortable for long hours. Which chair did you go for?

    1. Still haven’t decided! Since I can’t test out most of these in store, it’s kind of a pain, since returning them would be extra expense. I’ll update with a post when I finally pick one!

  18. Just came accross this post so, sorry if it’s too late! Thought you should know – the westelm saddle chair has a major flaw. After about 5-6 hours of use (I bought as a desk chair)I could feel four bolts under the fabric sticking into my backside! My husband thought I was crazy then a few days later he sat in it for about 10 minutes and couldn’t believe what a poorly designed chair it was to have this issue. I liked look of the chair so much that we decided to keep and repair the issue somehow but for now, I layer a blanket on the chair before I sit at my desk! We are currently redoing our home, the quality of the chair has made me rethink westelm as an option for other furniture.

    1. Wow, that’s REALLY good to know! I didn’t actually wind up purchasing that chair, but I do have an update about the one I found that I’ll be posting about this month!