How to choose a stunning statement chair

The use of a carefully chosen accent or statement chair can add bit of ‘wow’ to your home.  But how do you choose the right one for you?  And once you have it, how do you stop it looking well…like a chair in the corner?

In order to answer those all-important questions, I’m thrilled to introduce you to Gillian Keeling and Victoria Hughes of Gillian Victoria Interiors. These lovely ladies met when they began studying interior design. Based in Sevenoaks, they initially ‘bonded over a love for colour, pattern and processo’ and have recently launched Gillian Victoria Interiors.

Gillian loves contemporary design and cushions while Victoria loves to mix the old with the new. Together they know a thing or two about statement chairs and have kindly let me share their expertise.


Kelly Swallow is famous for giving old chairs a new lease of life with colour and character. This design is known as the Royal Hackney and you can see many more of her designs on Facebook. Image copyright belongs to Michael Swallow.

Firstly, lets clear up a little bit of mystery. What is a statement chair?

A statement chair is a chair that simply stands out. A head turner, a design piece, a chair that is different from the surrounding furniture. Be it by comfort, style or a simple colour pop! The chair should get noticed. 

Why do you think statement chairs are so popular?

Victoria –

For me, man’s greatest invention wasn’t the wheel but the chair. Over centuries, numerous designers have put pen to paper in a bid to design a chair. From Egyptian jewel encrusted examples to 1930’s modernistic chrome. 

And as a statement piece, a chair is a great way of bringing high impact colour into a room.  It creates a level of depth and offers character to a room that otherwise may appear bland or uninteresting. 

The use of certain fabrics such as velvets, particularly in darker shades add a sense of opulence to a room. Allowing the owner, a level of elegance at the fraction of the cost of a big item of furniture. 

We are seeing more opulent colours from the 30’s being used in statement pieces, including teal, burnt orange, mustard and dark berry. 

How to choose a chair that works with your setting

Victoria –

When working with a client, I get a feel for the house and building as this will help me choose the perfect statement chair for its environment. A loft apartment for instance would be a perfect setting for the iconic Barcelona chair while a classic hooded chair wouldn’t look out of place in a regency hotel lobby or a gentleman’s club.

Pick a chair for your personality

I also consider the personality of the client. A statement is just that, a statement. What do you want your chair to say about you? There aren’t many people who can pull off a Vivien Westwood hat and not many people will embrace the bold design of the 1950’s egg chair. Getting to know, and working closely with, my client is of the upmost importance for me as a designer.

This fantastic chair is also made to order by Kelly Swallow and you can find all the details here. Image copyright belongs to Michael Swallow.

Select a chair that fits your current decorating scheme yet stand out for the right reasons

Like any choice in life it needs to fit in with your lifestyle and often needs to be practical. For example, if we walk into a family playroom the statement chair would be bold and fun in colour but also practical and hardwearing in nature. Conversely, a study is often seen as being the ‘serious’ and quieter room and a statement chair would be more of a decorative piece where we would introduce a more luxurious textured fabric blending in with the surroundings.

Consider an upcycled statement chair

Gillian –

Upcycling is very current. Clients are considering how much impact a renovation will have on the environment. A tired statement chair covered in a luxury fabric is what I would recommend. A designer statement chair given a new lease of life at a fraction of the price.

This time Kelly Swallow has used an Orla Kiely fabric to give a vintage German chair a glam new look.  Lots of other gorgeous designs can be found on her Instagram and twitter feeds.

Tips for choosing that all important design, texture or colour

Perhaps the most important starting point is the chairs purpose. Is it a chair that is purely a decorative piece or one that will be used in a family room? This will influence the type of fabric that you choose for the chair. For example, leather is more hard wearing that a velvet or suede fabric. Look at the room where the chair will stand. Are there period characteristics that you will want the chair to complement? Architectural shapes or styles the chair can echo?

The choice of colour can be very personal, so choose a colour that you love but perhaps wouldn’t normally use in a room, one that will complement the room colour. Bold colours and patterns work very well in neutral coloured rooms.

Where to position a statement chair so it doesn’t just hide in a corner

Firstly, we would look at the corner where the chair is going to live. Does the wall area need coverage? Does the chair itself need to be covered in fabric? Once we know what is required, then we start the “layering” process.

It’s all about contrast. The chair needs to ‘pop out’, and the means of doing this is contrast. A statement chair set against a coloured wall simply wouldn’t work. Once you have the contrast, you can add the details. A cushion with colours, picking up the colour of the wall behind, or a throw draped over the arm of the chair. A footstool is also a good way of bringing the whole scheme together, tying in the wall and the chair colouring.

Can you give an example of how you have used a statement chair in a real home?

Gillian Victoria Interiors have recently furnished a modern cubed riverside home. The client had her own personal style and several wonderful pieces collected on family travels. The client also had an extensive book collection and an area dedicated especially for reading.

We suggested the classic Eames chair because while the house was modern in design the mid-century designers focused on strong square lines while curves has softer edges which this modern house resembled.

The Eames also sits on a wonderful wood veneer base which would mirror the client’s wooden floor.  While we were on-site the landscaping was being carried out in the garden. Taking the view into consideration, we changed the internal furnishing plan to position the chair in the open plan living area, directly in front of the floor to ceiling windows. 

Using this new layout, the Eames was in full view, as nobody puts Eames in the corner! And what better way to spend a lazy Sunday afternoon than reading and looking out to the garden.


What type of statement chair do you think will be in fashion next?

Mid- century – or 1950’s – furniture has been holding popularity.  In the 90’s there was a real boom and pieces hit their peak in the auction house. But the buzz has never really subsided, and we think that’s because it was a time when designers were famed for their quality pieces.  Just like art the more recognisable the designer, the higher the demand and price.

For me, the revival of the 1950’s is the slow reflection of the century’s timeline which has been in focus. From art deco it’s gradually made its way to mid-century and now the attention is also turning to the 80’s and one particular movement called the Memphis Design (David Bowie was a fan) Furniture is predominantly brightly coloured in a curved design and we will be seeing sofa’s with softer edges and rounder, tub-like chairs.

So that’s it!  Everything you needed to know about statement chairs.  But if you’re looking for more inspiration look at my Awesome Armchairs board on Pinterest

Gillian and Victoria would also be very happy to hear from you and you can email them at Find them at and on Instagram at gillianvictoriainteriors