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on the hunt for the perfect office chair

It’s time to upgrade my office chair.

office-desk-full

The one I’ve been using is fine – it’s an extra dining room chair that we don’t regularly use, it’s simple and easy to get in and out of and has clean lines.

But – I feel like such an old lady saying this – it hurts my neck.

I keep getting these terrible headaches that stem from a spot on my shoulder/upper back that is super tight. I’ve narrowed it down to be an issue with my posture at my desk. I sit up nice and tall (thanks to my ballerina tendencies) but I raise my shoulders when I’m typing or designing or doing whatever I’m doing at my desk because my chair is just a bit too low. I’ve always read about needing to be a certain optimal height and distance from your keyboard/screen/tabletop and now I get it. So, I’m on the hunt for the perfect office chair. the-perfect-office-chair

There are a few qualities that are important to me as I’ve been searching:

1. Seat Height. It must be between 19-21 inches. I might be okay with 18.5, but I’d rather err on the side of taller than shorter. (my current chair seat height is 17″)

2. Clean Lines. I prefer a back to lean against and no arms.

3. Comfort. I do sit for hours at a time on my work days, so comfort is pretty important.

4. Style. Something classic and feminine and neutral.

Okay, so here are the options I’ve narrowed it down to:

tufted-office-chairs

1 / 2 / 3

A tufted back is always a favorite (just look at our living room sofa and chairs). I like the wood legs and simple shape of each of these.  The middle chair is a bit pricier as it is from potterybarn (as opposed to overstock on the left and target on the right) but because it is a chair that I sit in often, I’m okay spending more if the quality is decidedly better (I’m not totally convinced it would be in this case). The seat height of the potterybarn chair is perfect at 20.5″ while the others are in the 19″ range, so maybe that makes the price worth it. I do like the blue color and it could be a fun touch of color in my office.

  vintage-office-chairs

1 / 2 / 3 / 4

What these chairs lack for in comfort, they totally make up for in style. The casters! The wood/metal mix! That leather seat! If it were a chair I wasn’t going to sit in as frequently, I would choose one of these in a heartbeat, but I’m pretty sure I would regret not going with something more cushy. And because my office is carpeted, I’m not sure how the rolling casters would do.

classic-office-chairs

1 / 2 / 3

I really like all three of these options. The first linen chair has a cute metal ring pull on the back – a detail that gives it something special. The center wingback is not a typical office chair and I like how stately, yet relaxed it is with the slipcover. And the final chair has great lines and a subtle diamond pattern in the fabric that I love. It comes as a set of two, which I don’t need, so that’s the only slight drawback there.

I’d love your help in deciding on the perfect office chair. Thankfully, there are so many great options to choose from and I’d love to know which one you like best.

What office chair is your top pick?

61 thoughts on “on the hunt for the perfect office chair”

    1. I haven’t decided yet. I thought I should actually sit in it before purchasing so I went out this weekend on a mission and came home empty handed. Still stuck on what will be the most comfortable/stylish/practical choice.

  1. Just add casters!!! LOVE the cushiony, super stylish fabric chairs! Trust me on this one…As a designer I fought this one, but with so many hours in the office, comfort has to win. Your existing chair would be raised by casters! (Or get a new one… always a good excuse) Put a clear chair mat down so you can swing side-to-side and spin around to view your other work areas, look out the windows, at the cute kids in the doorway, etc. Nobody will ever know the mat is there… but do it for your body’s sake. Mobility is KEY when working on a wide work space. Being “stuck” in a chair without free range of motion limits your body. Ask your chiropractor :)

  2. Hi Emily,

    I upgraded my work chair in october and had more or less the same issues as you. All the options are great, but I will dare and give you a different one. What about this one?

    http://www.amazon.com/gp/product/B003Z4173C/ref=oh_details_o01_s00_i00?ie=UTF8&psc=1

    It is a flat out copy of an Eames chair Aluminum group. I used to work on a bent plywood Ikea chair and after hours working on it my behind would hurt so much; so all though there were a lot of more glamorous, original and expensive options I end up buying this one.

    I do not regreret it for a sencond. It swivels, goes up and down, has a back, y soft on your bottom and looks good.

    Have a good hunt!

  3. A new office chair is great and I sure wouldn’t want to talk you out of that, but have you also considered a keyboard tray mounted to the bottom of your desk? I got one at a big box office store and it slides in and out, height adjusts, tilt adjusts, etc and it makes ALL THE DIFFERENCE IN THE WORLD. SERIOUSLY. SERIOUSLY. SERIOUSLY. Now my elbows are at right angles to the keyboard, which is I think the goal. Also has a cushy little wrist rest. I can’t recommend it enough! :)

  4. I know it wasn’t an option, but I recently purchased Hayden, in linen from World Market for my office, and I LOVE LOVE LOVE it! Super comfy, even for a long sesh at the computer. And if you get it on sale it can be super cheap.

    Good luck! Christine

  5. Hi Emily, it looks like we have very similar design tastes because I love all these chairs!! Personally, the one that stands out to me the most is the blue one from target. The hubby and I were going to get these for our dining room but I decided against it. On Target’s website they say they’re not sold in stores, but we saw them in a Target location near us and the photos on the website aren’t true to color at all! They’re more like a dark teal in person which I felt wasn’t the right “bright and fresh” springy type color that the picture lead me to believe it was online. In the end we bought the same chair in white (which in real life turns out to be a very light sand color which luckily, still looks nice for our dining room). The cushion is comfortable yet firm so it shouldn’t be hard on your back and neck after sitting on it for long periods of time. I just thought you should know about the blue chair because I loved it too until I saw the real color in person! Wouldn’t want you to set your heart on it to be disappointed when it comes in the mail looking totally different than on the website!(:
    -Marlyssa

  6. Emily, I can so relate to your dilemma about office chairs! As someone who also spends a fair amount of time in front of a computer, finding a chair that is comfortable, ergonomic, stylish and affordable is a challenge! For me, having a chair with wheels and arm rests, adjustable seat height, and the ability to lean back are key components. My husband also shares the office so our chair had to accommodate him as well. After trying several chairs from Costco, we ended up with a chair from Staples. Style was compromised for comfort, ergonomics and price….sadly! Can I just say that one lesson I’ve learned when it comes to seating of any kind is that you must try it out in person…a painful lesson learned after ordering an expensive custom sofa and chair years ago that was simply not comfortable! Best wishes as you hunt!

  7. I’d say 1. Tufted, or my favorite classic 2. Although I like the vintage, not comfortable enough. I’d go with classic 2 big white chair. It looks nice and tall, good price, and comfortable. You could also dip the legs in paint if you want it to look a little more chic than traditional, maybe a color or a metallic gold or something. Good luck!

  8. I love the middle one of the classic options from ZGallerie! I think the white pops well against your chalk board wall and I love how luxurious and curvy this one looks at not a terrible price. It is a bit more masculine than feminine but I think the color and slip cover make up for it. I love the size statement it makes too! Good luck!

  9. Please don’t order an office/work chair without sitting in it and checking it out in person. Also, I agree with the others that have talked about the armrests. I have had shoulder and neck issues for years directly related to computer time without a proper chair. We all love the pretty factor but you need to go with the best choice for your body and not the beauty. Take care and blessings to you!

  10. Emily,

    You have such stellar taste! I love the options you’ve found. There are a few comments I see that address what I wanted to share. I am a physical therapist and worked for years at that enormous airplane manufacturer to the north of you. I’ve done loads of ergonomic assessments and there is something missing from all your choices: armrests. Sorry to say that the hunching of your shoulders and subsequent neck/upper back pain won’t really go away till your arms are supported while you type. Another culprit of those symptoms can be screen height, which should be at eye level. A few cool vintage books stacked underneath your monitor can quickly bring the screen higher and keep your neck in proper alignment. Other rules of thumb: hips and knees should both be at 90 degrees with feet resting on the floor. If you are on the shorter side then use a small stool under your feet. Gosh, I sound so preachy! :). I’m actually now a stay at home mom with my 4th baby less than a week old. It feels good to use my brain for something other than taking care of my crazy houseful of kiddos! :)

    1. Thanks sooo much for your helpful info on choosing a desk chair. I, too, am in need of one. Even though I’d love to pick one based on PRETTINESS, I’d rather be comfy than have a pretty one that is not comfortable. So, I’d really think about how my body feels first, and how the chair looks second…of course, the price matters a lot, too, so I’ll buy what I can afford that I hope will last for years!! :)

  11. After working and sitting in various office chairs for over 30 years, I would strongly recommend a high end office chair such as Herman Miller chairs, if you can afford it. Sometimes you can get them at Costco. They have a wide variety. You might also want to rethink the ‘no arms’ rule. They make the chairs with shorter arms so they’re easy to slide in and out of…but so comfy to really relax in while you do your work. I would think of it like buying a car without an arm rest…sure you can live without it but why? ha ha anyway hope this helps…just my two cents worth! Happy office chair hunting!

  12. Good for you that you are listening to your body. I ignored mine for longer than I should have and have been seeing a chiropractor to help realign my body from all of the damage inflicted by my poor posture over the years. My workstation is stool-height to facilitate standing when I want, but this leads to additional ergonomic challenges. Ergonomics goes so far beyond just seat height. As you lift your seat, you also lift your feet/legs as well as your head. It is important to find the right alignment for every area, which is why the more built-in adjustment you can provide, the easier it is to find the right fit. It is truly NOT a one-size-fits-all scenario when it comes to ergonomics. Some areas to consider include: feet to floor position; seat to worksurface position; arm/armrest/elbow/wrist to keyboard/mouse/worksurface position; and eyeline to monitor position. I have to agree with the proponents of an “official” office chair. You can’t beat the amount of adjustability they afford and they do make casters for carpet, you just need to make sure the chair is specified that way. A favorite chair of mine to specify is the Herman Miller, Aeron. I have this chair in my office at home and it has served me well for the past 17 (!) years (yes, it – and I – have been around that long ;) ). We specify this chair a lot and it’s versatility is increased by being available in 3 sizes – A, B and C. It is not “pretty”, but it is a modern classic that doesn’t look bad pulled up to my very vintage roll-top desk.

    http://www.hermanmiller.com/products/seating/performance-work-chairs/aeron-chairs.html

    I personally sit in the Herman Miller Equa stool at work. It has very little adjustment and no arms. The built-in lumbar does a surprisingly decent job when I force myself to sit up straight.

    The last chair that we were given a demo on is the Herman Miller Mirra 2. This chair has loads of adjustability, including the depth of the seat pan (which is a plus for those of us with short legs). Different than the typical seat pan adjustment of sliding front-to-back, the front of this seat pan actually rolls down to decrease the depth. There is also a lot of arm adjustability in this chair. Again, not “pretty”, but there are some very fun color options available. (The white/blue is one of my favorites).

    http://www.hermanmiller.com/products/seating/performance-work-chairs/mirra-2-chairs.html

    I just had a monitor arm installed at my desk and it is a-ma-zing! It is so easy to position the monitor where I need it and lift it up to eye level and eliminate looking down. It also frees up more desktop space. An ergonomist also recommended that I pull the monitor much further forward that I was used to having it (about 15″ +/-) from the front edge of the worksurface. I am also making more of a conscious effort to sit up straight and to alternate sitting and standing (the ergonomist recommended switching every 20 minutes…I’m not quite there yet). With all of these changes combined with the chiropractor, I am noticing slow, but sure improvements.

    Good Luck to you!

  13. Oh I know that headache! Same tight shoulder neck thing too. My dr told me to not sleep with that side of my head on the pillow but to roll over in order to release the nerve form compression. Of course that is my go-to sleep position! Also to drive uncomfortably close to the steering wheel and place the hand on that near the bottom of the steering wheel as opposed to near the top. Hope you get some relief. When I can do these it helps.

  14. love the blue tufted chair from target but i would check with an office store that could guide you to a chair that is better for your posture. good luck!!

  15. I sold office furniture for years and you really need something that is ergonomic if you spend a lot of hours in it. Unfortunately, none of the options you’ve featured fit into that category. 1st step are arms on a chair and you need an adjustable seat pan and it’s also good if you’re able to lean back in it. Good luck!

  16. Having worked at a chiropractor for many years, trust me, you don’t sound like an old lady! It’s called ergonomics and most people don’t consider that their health is affected by what they sit in for many hours every day, when they really should. You should definitley get something with comfortable padding (I need something that fits in the small of my back) and that is adjustable so you can tailor it to your exact needs. And don’t forget to rest your eyes and stretch or walk every 20 minutes! Good luck, I know you’ll find something stylish and fabulous!

  17. I looked at those target chairs for my dining room but after seeing them in person I didn’t think the quality of the fabric looked very good. the PB chair is really nice, I’ve seen that one in person in the store too. the vintage chairs all look too hard for sitting all day, except maybe the white leather.

  18. I like the two tufted options with curved sides. The wall behind your desk is very dark and masculine and so is your desk with the nail stud trim. I think the tufted chairs would soften that nicely. Also, the pattern on your other walls is diamond like and the tufts repeat that.

  19. My vote is the blue chair! Hope you enjoy your day and that your headaches subside and your work becomes effortless with a new office chair :)

  20. I just ordered a new office chair from World Market. It is the Konrad office chair. I love the style – it is vintage looking – and even though it is wood, it is surprisingly comfortable. I have a small vintage style seat pad (from Susan Branch) which helps also and keeps it from looking bland. The seat height adjusts, which I love!

  21. Tufted blue or the classic with subtle diamond pattern. Chairs are SO critical to back/shoulder health when sitting at a desk all day!

  22. Have you looked at Pier 1? they have a lot of great chair choices in different sizes and you can try them out to see how they feel. As for the ones above I like the slipcovered wingback. You have said before that your kids sit at your desk somethimes and I think that slipcovers make that a less cringe worthy prospect with a new chair!

  23. Hi. I will suggest you an office chair with ajustable high, because those are the best for your kind of work.

    The Vintage #4 is prety and could be also healthier. But to chose a chair go in the shop, and sit down and move around, and sit again and so on, and one chair will be the perfect one, maybe not so chic, but perfect for your neck.

    Have fun.

  24. I say the Pottery Barn tufted chair. I know it’s pricier but coming from someone with a very tight budget, I’ve decided that when the budget allows I will get what fits the bill. Now if that was the Target brand then yay for me! Clearly in this case Pottery Barn has nailed it with your needs and wants.

  25. The white c&b one under “Vintage”. It definitely has clean lines; and if getting the height right is your #1 priority, adjustable is the way to go. Plus it looks like it’s on sale now ;)

  26. This is kind of off the topic, but I just have a more personal question for you. How did you develop your strong, sincere faith in Jesus? What keeps you motivated spiritually? You seem to be such a believer — what inspired that? I, too, have a firm faith Jesus Christ. Everything is possible because of him! I just really admire your sincere belief and your being so uninhibited about declaring it. :) Kudos to you!!
    -Jenny

  27. Having worked from home for the past 13 years, I have spent a LOT of time sitting at my desk. I have found that though their are a lot of cute styles, something that is adjustable both in height of seat and in allowing you to “lean back” really makes a huge difference in comfort when seated for long periods. It appears a couple of the vintage styles are adjustable and it is easy to put cozy cushions on them.

  28. I like #1 of the tufted styles, but working in facilities management and sitting in the office all day I think you should consider if you are going to be sitting for long periods of time, something you can adjust to your size and height. Once the chair is adjusted you shouldn’t have problems, like lower back problems or even sitting at the edge of the sit can lead to lower back pain and varicose veins. I could go on…blah blah blah…Thanks to a great boss at work I sit in a Celle by Herman Miller. Good luck I know you will choose something that looks fantastic!

    http://www.hermanmiller.com/products/seating/performance-work-chairs/celle-chairs.html

  29. The vintage options seem very uncomfortable particulaly If you are spending hours in front of computer.
    I like the the classics chair #2 but white does not seem practical.

    My kids like to sit on my lap whenever I’m in front of computer and that’s how we catch on some TV over the internet. So I’d probably choose classics for that reason.

    So many good choices, good luck.

  30. I’m so glad you’re addressing this issue. I see so many cute office set-ups on line that include just regular chairs and I don’t know why everyone using same doesn’t have back, neck and shoulder pain. You really need to get a chair that not only comfortably fits the space, but fits your body. I highly recommend a chair that can be adjusted in height and one with casters so you can move about easily and push away from your desk or table easily. You will need to get a floor protector…and I recommend a hard protector, not one of those flimsy vinyl types. Arms are an issue. If you’re short-waisted they keep your arms too high, but if you don’t have arms you may start doing what I’ve been having a problem with and that is resting your non-mouse arm on your thigh while you’re not keyboarding. Resting can become pushing and that causes trapezius muscle strain. I’ve gone through this several times in several jobs and at home and finally have decided that a regular secretarial chair is the best bet. You can always recover the back and seat in a pretty fabric.

  31. I know this is not among your choices, but I use a vintage courthouse chair that I found at Barnhouse Boys vintage fair several years ago for my office chair……Love it!!! So comfortable and good support…..not your typical choice but works for me…hope you find just the right one for YOU

  32. you didn’t ask this question specifically, but i have #1 in the tufted category (safavieh chair) for my desk chair. it’s really cute, but the foam on the seat edge is not firm and squishes down easily, therefore, putting a lot of pressure on the back of your legs. something important to consider in a daily use desk chair. i find myself opting for the sofa many times instead. look forward to seeing what you choose – your home is always so cute!

  33. I like the PB Vintage (#2) wood seat/back! In fact, since I need a new desk chair myself, I’m going to order it for me! thanks for doing the research for me!

  34. I work from home and sit here at my computer from 8:30 until 5 every Monday through Friday. I can empathize with the neck/shoulderblade/back pain – I am a sufferer also. However, I found the perfect office chair, and I emphasize “office” because it is not lovely, it has wheels, it has arms BUT I find the arms helpful when keyboarding a lot – I rest my elbows on them and it helps – A BUNCH. I bought mine at Staple’s (HYKEN #990119) and it has saved my neck (literally). I bought it on sale at 129.00, regular 200. It is the best office chair I’ve had in over 25 years!

  35. Emily – I know it is tempting to search for a chair based on looks, but I wouldn’t be doing my (wifely) duty if I didn’t suggest you consult with an office furniture consultant who knows a little something about ergonomics. My husband is in the biz, and I am sure he would be happy to show you a few options that are both attractive, but also would ensure you don’t give yourself a pain in the neck. :) Nik Pflugrath – Keeneys Office – nikp@keeneys.com. Cheers.

    1. I was going to suggest the same thing. I used to work in occupational health & safety many moons ago and it is so important to get the ergonomic considerations right. There are some really stylish office chairs and I would consult with someone who could advise you as there are lots of things to consider such as the height of your screen, the angle your arms end up and so on. In fact, I didn’t follow my own knowledge and am now recuperating from a severe inflammation in my neck. Don’t get to that point!

  36. Hello Emily
    I prefer the blue (a set of 2 at $ 170), she is beautiful, comfortable and not too bulky. This is the one I would choose! for me! But it’s your choice, anyway, I think it will be very nice as usual! Sincerely.
    PS: A surprise will soon get home to you … I hope you enjoy it …

  37. This is totallly one of those areas in life where I would sacrifice style over substance & get a real desk chair; one that raises & lowers, has a comfortable seat, wheels & has an adjustable back.

  38. I am loving choice #3 from Target – Classic. Love the style and I typically like somewhat of an arm on my chair just for a resting place for my arm :) Set of 2 is a drawback when you don’t want two, but you could always add a chair in the corner of your office or any room in the house for extra seating. It’s a nice classic look that I think would look good in any room. Happy chair shopping! Can’t wait to see what you decide on.

  39. I like the pop of color in the tufted one from Target, and I also like the second two in the Classic section. As part of the decor, I would go with functional and pretty :) None of the vintage ones give me that vibe—your neck may no longer hurt, but your backside might!

  40. Oh boy, this is such a big choice. Your comfort and health is so important. I sit in an extra dining room chair at my desk as well. No wonder I have hunched shoulders so often. I love all of your choices but I have to go with the last one in the vintage category from crate and barrel. It’s leather and comes in so many different colors. It isn’t as pretty but it looks better for your back and posture. Can’t wait to see what you choose.

  41. I had the same shoulder/neck issue this past year and made the jump to a new chair about 6 months ago and so far so good. I chose a vintagey chair on wheels like your middle selections. I wanted to roll and swivel along with an adjustable seat height. I would encourage you to make sure you are well enough above the keyboard so that your shoulders gently reach down to the keyboard. Any strain and you are back to square one. Adjusting the chair was totally necessary for me to get the right feel and took a bit of adjusting . I just put a cool seat cushion from H & M on the chair and it is comfy and supportive. Good luck in your search. It is totally worth it.

  42. Our office chair is a fabric dinning room chair that I found at Restoration Hardware outlet. I love it… the only issue is my husband and I wear dark denim jeans and the edge of the seat has a hit of blue. The three coats scotch guard really didn’t help :( Happy Chair Shopping!

  43. Well, I’m anxious to see what you choose and how it works for you. Mine bit the dust and I gave it to Goodwill. I sit here typing this hunched over in an uncomfortable dining chair now. . . We’re all going to have blogger back problems! :)

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