The chair began to appear in human dwellings about 5,000 years ago.
The architect Witold Rybczynski suggests that the chair began to appear in human dwellings about 5,000 years ago.

What are you sitting on right now?

Chairs are a necessity. They are also often the easiest pieces of furniture to change when you want a fresh look to your space. 

They’ve been around for a while now. So much so that it’s easy to forget that we didn’t always have them. 

Early humans sat on the bare ground or on rocks or logs. Of course, those early forms of seating meant a fair amount of discomfort and sore behinds.  

The architect Witold Rybczynski suggests that the chair began to appear in human dwellings about 5,000 years ago. 

Today, we have a vast variety of chair types. Here are 13 chair varieties you may wish to consider next time you want to change things up a bit in your home. 

1The Armchair

Armchairs can be casual or formal chairs for lounging in the living room.  You can also use them as desk chairs and dining chairs.

This is the CEO of chairs. The armchair is among the most common types of chairs in the home. The armrests make them comfortable. They are also quite versatile.  

2The Chaise Longue

You can use the chaise longue in the living area as well as your bedroom. (Photo Courtesy of the Metropolitan Museum of Art)

The term chaise longue is French for “long chair.” Many mistakenly call this type of chair a chaise lounge. The gaffe is understandable since we use this type of chair for lounging, anyway.

Day beds and fainting couches are usually of a similar design. You can use the chaise longue in the living area as well as your bedroom.

3The Wing Chair

Designed for the front of the fireplace, the “wings” on a wing chair protect your head from drafts and help hold the heat from the fire.

The wing chair is a classic design originally conceived for the front of a fireplace. The “wings” on the sides protect your head from drafts and help hold the heat from the fire. 

4The Dining Chair

Dining chairs and tables used to come in matching sets, but current decor styles have made mixing colors, upholstery, and shapes trendy.  

Dining chairs are a category, but there are now so many different shapes and styles that it is almost impossible to describe the grouping.

Anything goes with this chair type. The only thing required is a seat high enough for people to eat comfortably. Beyond that, the options are virtually limitless.

5The Club Chair

The arms and back of the club chair are often the same height, but today’s designers have conjured a multitude of variations on this style. (Photo: Airman 1st Class Gustavo Castillo/US Air Force)

Club chairs are called such because this was typically the shape used in the gentleman’s clubs of London in the 1850s. These types of chairs usually have a low back and heavy sides that form armrests.  

6The Chesterfield

While you can find some upholstered in fabric, most Chesterfield chairs come with leather upholstery.

Historians suggest the 4th Earl of Chesterfield commissioned the first ever Chesterfield chair. This distinguished-looking chair has distinctive deep buttoned, quilted leather upholstery.

Chairs of this type look more like club chairs, but they can also have more of an armchair or wing chair design style.  

7The Fighting Chair

Originally meant for anglers battling to haul in big fish, fighting chairs have now become a bit more like recliners.

If you’ve read Ernest Hemingway’s marlin stories, then you know where these chairs got their name.

Originally meant for anglers battling to haul in big fish, fighting chairs have now become a bit more like recliners or comfortable office chairs.  

8The Easy Chair

Mention “easy chair” and most people will invariably picture something large, upholstered, and well padded. (Photo:Linnaea Mallette/Public Domain Pictures)

Chairs in this category include a huge number of styles and looks. Most agree, however, that easy chairs are for sitting or half reclining in a comfortable posture. 

Increasingly, designers say motion recliners are included in this category, says Vera Dordick for Home Edit.

9The Director’s Chair

Director’s chair on the stage illuminated by floodlights. The seat and back of the chair is often leather or fabric. 

This chair type comes straight out of Hollywood. The director’s chair folds up, making it easy to move around the set.

Some say the design has roots in the 1400s, when coffer-makers sat on this type of chair. Others link the director’s chair to the ancient Roman curule.

Today, the chair’s classic style has helped maintain its popularity.

10The Panton Chair

The Danish interior designer Verner Panton created the Panton chair after an idea to make stack-able plastic chairs.  What followed was the birth of a classic. (Photo: Sailko/Wikimedia Commons)

The one-piece plastic Panton chair was a revolutionary design from 1960. The Danish interior artist Verner Panton created the design after an idea to make stack-able plastic chairs. 

What followed was the birth of a classic. 

11The Windsor Chair

Many families choose to add chair pads to their Windsor chairs.  This is the classic dining chair in many homes. (Photo:Linnaea Mallette/Public Domain Pictures)

Many consider the Windsor chair a kitchen and dining room classic. This type of chair is perfect for formal space.

Vertical wood poles form the seat back, sometimes rounded or squared off. A shaped crested rail tops the poles.

The Ladder-Back Chair

The ladder back chair has returned to the living rooms and dining areas of countless homes.
After people relegated them to kitchens in the Victorian era, the ladder back chair has returned to the living rooms and dining areas of countless homes. (Photo: Chalon Handmade/Flickr)

The versatile wooden ladder-back chair is believed to have originated in the Middle Ages, in Europe. 

Later on, the chair’s plain style appealed to Protestants who brought it to the United States. 

The rise of upholstered furniture during the Victorian age edged the ladder back into kitchens and other less prominent spaces. 

Today, the ladder back chair is back in the living rooms and dining areas of countless homes. 

12The Rocking Chair

The rocking chair first emerged in the 18th century, probably in Europe. Today, there are modern metal versions and upholstered easy chairs that rock.

This is the grand daddy of chairs. Rocking chairs are a front-porch fixture and an American ideal. 

Some suggest that Benjamin Franklin invented this type of chair, but most experts disagree with the popular notion. The rocking chair first emerged in the 18th century, probably in Europe. 

Rockers are usually a wooden chair mounted on curved rockers.  Today’s rocking chairs nonetheless come in a variety of looks and construction. 

Come and Sit a While …

There is an obvious and enduring functionality in the basic design of the chair.

This is why, despite the variety of shapes available today, chairs haven’t changed much over the centuries.  

Unlike vehicles, weapons, and communications technology, today’s iconic chairs have remained the same as when they first became popular.

If you are sitting on a Chesterfield, then you are sitting on the same chair that the 4th Earl of Chesterfield sat on. There haven’t been any big changes in the design.

Even so, chairs combine fashion and utility in a way that is unique and always interesting. 

There is, after all, nothing like settling into a good chair to rest your weary feet at the end of a long, long day.