Good to Know The Next Big Thing Timeless Traditions

Accent Chairs Through the Ages

The times may have changed, but our love for a good accent chair remains the same.


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Featured in the May 1929 issue of Better Homes and Gardens, this living room arrangement highlighted timeless styles in modern company and was "suggestive of the new mode in furnishings." If it stood alone, this style of armchair could fit in with countless furniture periods. Add in the material (complete with gold Art Deco accents for that roaring '20s glitz and glam) and the modern side table and you have an accent chair perfect for the period.

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Channeling what's old and making it new again is a timeless tradition in and of itself. Case and point: This accent chair from 1931 is the perfect example of how to mix a traditional shape with a bold, new pattern. In this furniture revival, the "excellence lies in its simplicity of line and design" (Better Homes and Gardens, "Illustrating an Interesting Furniture Revival," February 1931).

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You can't have a review of accent chairs through the ages without a tufted chair. This classic style works for chairs, sofas, headboards, and ottomans alike. The editors of the 1946 piece that featured this chair noted that "the new upholstered chairs are much simpler than prewar models to offer you additional comfort. They have subdued curved edges instead of sharp angles" (Better Homes and Gardens, "News! In Upholstered Chairs," April 1946).

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Midcentury modern design was in full swing by the late '50s, and accent chairs of the era were one of the greatest reflections of this style change. With new streamlined and simplistic decorating preferences, wire chairs became a hot commodity. Add in a classic midcentury mod detail like wood accents or "vivid colors with dramatic use of neutrals," and you have the quintessential elements of a 1950s living room (Better Homes & Gardens, "Idea Home of the Year," September 1957).

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The streamlined midcentury modern look continued through the '60s. Here "the living room becomes a modern version of the parlor -- it's reserved for quiet relaxation and occasional formal entertaining" (Better Homes & Gardens, "Neat, Trim, Wonderfully Practical," September 1960). Danish-inspired accent chairs that embraced the look of natural teak wood were necessities for such rooms and seating areas throughout the home. Place this accent chair alongside a sleek sofa, geometric artwork, and a textured area rug for a living room worthy of Don Draper himself.

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Mixing and matching a variety of design styles was common in the '70s, making these sleek accent chairs a natural fit in this renovated farmhouse living room. "The chrome and canvas chairs and Plexiglas occasional tables are visually light, but sturdily functional," creating a stunning element of architectural simplicity. And when paired with warm colors and a comfy couch, they elevate the look (Better Homes & Gardens, "Rebirth of West Coast Farmhouse," October 1979).

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Let's go boho! The '80s saw a resurgence of bohemian-inspired decor, and this accent chair fits right in. Woven texture provides contrast while the stylish shape adds a punch of character, creating an ideal statement piece. This decade encouraged readers to "try combining unlike pieces. A melange of furniture styles can create a warm, inviting atmosphere" (Better Homes & Gardens, "Signature Decorating," September 1982).

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"To put your rooms at ease, remember the three W's: windows, wovens, and white" (Better Homes & Gardens, "Light & Airy," March 1991). Woven, wicker furniture was definitely having a moment in the '90s. This furniture trend may have started in the '80s, but by 1990 it was full steam ahead, becoming an essential indoor decorating feature. Not only was wicker popular for accent chairs, but it was also used for sofas, coffee tables, and dining tables throughout the decade.

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Easygoing, oversized, and comfortable furniture defined the aesthetic of the early 2000s. The slim, midcentury mod-style chairs of the '60s were revamped with thicker cushions and padded armrests for this decade, balancing style with coziness. When it came to color, elegant palettes were key. "Pale blue paired with ivory details set a colorful yet calming, sophisticated yet homey mood for [this] living room" (Better Homes & Gardens, "Color comes of age," March 2004).

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"Style isn't just about buying things, it's about blending things" (Better Homes & Gardens, "Old School New Ideas," September 2015). Whether your style favors the clean lines of midcentury modern simplicity, the woven texture of bohemian design, or the metal accents of the '70s, you can't go wrong with a modern-day furniture revival combining styles from throughout the decades. Here, accent chairs with midcentury modern lines are paired with shiplap walls and a tufted sofa.

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