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Power Couples: Sofas & Accent Chairs + a few rules

Pairing up furniture can be hard. You have to consider colors, styles, fabrics, and scale, all of which can be confusing and overwhelming. Which is possibly why so many people throw their hands up in the air when it comes to finding that perfect sofa and chair combo and just end up purchasing one of the pre-made sets that so many big box stores offer. And while those are there for your convenience and definitely do the job, there are about as many sofas and chairs out there as there are people, which means there are A LOT of good, unique combos to be had. It just takes a little bit of work.

Cup Of Jo Emily Henderson Living Room 1

Unfortunately, there is no fancy algorithm for finding said perfect match (although whoever invents that will surely create the next big thing… bumble/tinder for furniture… could it ever happen!?). Which is why we’ve done a little bit of the work to bring you 16 combos that we can promise will work together. We’ve rounded up a handful of pairs in different styles and price points.

Emily Henderson Curbly Livingroom01

But before we get into these combos lets talk for a minute about a few guidelines and rules for pairing sofas and chairs together.

  1. Scale: This one is pretty obvious, but your chair shouldn’t be petite if you have a massive and grand sofa. They should both compliment each other in scale and be relatively the same size and proportion.
  2. Fabrics: Although this rule can sometimes be broken, typically you will want the pairing to have two complimentary fabrics. Steer clear of having a leather couch paired with a set of leather chairs, or a velvet couch paired with two velvet chairs. The same goes with patterns – if you have a patterned chair then get a solid sofa. As mentioned this rule can be broken, but is a bit harder to pull off so play it safe by sticking to the rule.
  3. Seat Height: This is a big one that a lot of people forget when they start purchasing. The seat height of your sofa and chairs should be within 4″ of each other, if not less. That means if the seat height of your chair is 17″ your seat height of your sofa should be as close as possible to that (ideally no shorter than 14″ and no taller than 20″). This will prevent you and your guests from being at awkward differing heights when you are all seated together.
  4. Legs: This rule applies to other furniture pairings as well, but if your sofa is quite heavy and boxy then consider having a chair that has a longer leg profile to help balance out the visual weight. Or visa versa, if your chair is really heavy then look for a sofa that has a little bit of a leg to it so that neither feels too heavy or too light.

Couches And Accent Chairs2

1. Sofa + Chair | 2. Sofa + Chair | 3. Sofa + Chair | 4. Sofa + Chair | 5. Sofa + Chair | 6. Sofa + Chair | 7. Sofa + Chair | 8. Sofa + Chair | 9. Sofa + Chair | 10. Sofa + Chair | 11. Sofa + Chair | 12. Sofa + Chair | 13. Sofa + Chair | 14. Sofa + Chair | 15. Sofa + Chair | 16. Sofa + Chair

Which ones are your favorites? We are pretty partial to #1 what with that tufted blue and rattan combo, or #4 is so pretty if you lean more California Casual. If your vibe is a bit more dramatic then #6 could work for you, or if you prefer something more traditional then #16 has you covered. Let us know if you have any questions on the rules above and if you have any “living room questions” that you can’t seem to figure out.

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6 years ago

Really helpful post! This is the kind of content I pin and come back to over and over when I’m making purchases. While I love seeing makeovers and watching the progress of Emily’s house, I also love these informative posts that take something potentially intimidating and make it approachable.

6 years ago

This is just on time! We just bought a velvet sofa and two accent chairs that match all the rules. Do you have rules to picking coffee table & side table to match the sofa and chairs? That would be really helpful. I am still looking for the tables. Thanks!

6 years ago
Reply to  Chrissy

Found the post on sofa and coffee tables. Thank you!

6 years ago
Reply to  Chrissy
6 years ago

I really love all of these chair options. However, I am having the hardest time finding a budget friendly accent chair that is also comfortable enough to curl up and read a book or watch TV. Maybe #12…

6 years ago
Reply to  Lindsay

I don’t know what your budget is but we have the Parlour chair from CB2 and it is the perfect size for curling up. I can sit in it cross-legged or sideways or normally and every which way is massively comfortable. And it doesn’t take up a ton of visual space, which is nice. It’s a bit pricey on its own, but CB2 is pretty good about running sales fairly often.

6 years ago
Reply to  Lindsay

I’m in the same boat, Lindsay! I have a couple of the tufted velvet club chairs from World Market that are very comfortable, but are feeling heavy in my space. I’ve hesitated switching them out because I want something comfortable for movie nights, when family is over, etc when there are more seats to fill, but haven’t found something that feels right–visually “lighter” but still at least somewhat lounge worthy or that has passed the sit test. 🙂 #12 is similar to what I keep coming back toward; could be worth a sit!

6 years ago
Reply to  Jen

Yes! I agree that it’s hard to find comfy chairs that are really stylish. I think it comes down to the arms whether it is really comfy- and the ones that are comfiest are not very good-looking! 🙁

Thanks for this roundup EHD, I think I may have to try out #12 as Jen suggested!

6 years ago

Emily, do you have any suggestions for chair pairings with a sectional? I have a decent sized charcoal grey mid century inspired sectional that really needs balancing out on the other side of the room. I love the sectional but I find that the leg really impedes the space available for two chairs, yet it looks empty without. Thanks SO much!

6 years ago
Reply to  Ashley

Yes please,sectional is non negotiable for my husband?

6 years ago
Reply to  Ariel

Yes yes yes! I’m a sectional owner and have had the hardest time finding chairs to pair with it!

6 years ago

I love these posts! Now I just wish I could splurge on one (or five) of these lovely pairings.

In terms of another living room dilemma…I would love some guidance on how to create a entry feel when your front door opens into the living room and there isn’t even a living room closet. Our new apartment is set up that way and I’m a little stumped!

6 years ago
Reply to  Ellie

Hi Ellie, our living room is the same way. 1950s ranch with no specific entryway that opens right into the living room. I created an “entryway” along the first wall in. You can see it here:

There are also links to the progress posts that kind of explain the situation. Hope that helps a little.

Bettye Rainwater
6 years ago

Yay! Rules! I love rules! I also love BREAKING rules…but I like to know the rules first 🙂


6 years ago

What – if anything – pairs with a La-Z-Boy that your husband adores despite its hideousness?
Also, if there’s only one said recliner, how do you select another chair without resorting to a twin monstrosity?

6 years ago

Complement, complement. (Not compliment) All designers take note. Great combos.

6 years ago

No. 4, 6 and 15 are my favs.

6 years ago

Great Pairings! Thank you for including some cushion-less sofas in the mix. They are frustratingly hard to find and I’m over-developing my upper body from the constant cushion fluffing required by my current sofa.

6 years ago

Love this post. What is the rule about having matching accent chairs? If you have room for two chairs with your sofa, do they need to be the same?

6 years ago

Cute green sofa #15 is terribly uncomfortable from personal experience 🙁

6 years ago
Reply to  Stacy

Thanks! We’ve been thinking about that sofa in leather, and I was wondering how it feels!

6 years ago

Love these. My issue is that I have space for one chair, but not two. Do the same rules apply? My living room is setup somewhat odd: kinda small, open concept to kitchen divided by a bar and lots of doorways, fireplace, etc. If the chair sits across the room, should it be on the same visual weight as the couch (Soho Collection from Z Gallerie…no longer sold, but still searchable online)? I currently have a matching chair and ottoman to the couch. It works, but feels a little boring. I’m just afraid one of the chairs above won’t be visually heavy enough being across the room.

Rebecca Houghton
6 years ago

I have a leather sofa similar to #12. What type/color rug would pair well with the sofa and chair combo of #12??
Thanks so much !

6 years ago

Eeek, I violated #2! I have a mid century brown leather couch and recently purchased the West Elm Spencer wood frame recliner in black. I’ve been struggling to find another chair that will complement these two pieces! Would introducing a fabric chair in another color be another violation??

6 years ago
Reply to  Karen

I’m no Emily (although I do have an interior design degree), but I wouldn’t think so! Brown leather and black are both so neutral that I think you’d be fine introducing another color or pattern. Then I would sprinkle around the new color in pillows/accessories to make it feel cohesive.

6 years ago
Reply to  Heidi

Thanks Heidi!

6 years ago

This is just one of the many reasons I come to your site, Emily! I love to learn about design and appreciate the great ideas and resources. Thanks!

6 years ago
Reply to  Lavinia

Totaly recommened

6 years ago

Have any recommendations for a husband who insists he be comfortable and have himself a recliner? He’s 6’4” so it needs to be nice and tall. The worn used Pottery barn ones I bought look great back have too low of a back. And he needs to work his core just to sit in them and hold his head up. If this caused a six pack, I’d tell him to suck it up. But it hasn’t, so I’m open to other options if you have any? Since he can sit in that chair from 5:00 pm on Friday to 11:00 pm on Sunday, it’s worth an investment. Suggestions?

6 years ago
Reply to  Kelly

The classic Eames recliner and ottoman? It’s a big investment, but very comfortable and the style is classic enough to go with pretty much any sofa.

6 years ago

Just bought the #12 chair for $100! Brand new on good ol’ Craigslist. 🙂

6 years ago
Reply to  Vanessa

Craigslist is the BEST. I’d say 90% of our furniture (no beds, cuz, ew) is from Craigslist, including a lot of really nice mid century mod finds.

6 years ago

So I have a question! Can you do a linen couch with matching linen swivel chairs?

6 years ago

So good, this is all so good!

6 years ago

Whats’s the source for the items in the photo with the plaid chairs and the gray/blue rug? love that combo!

6 years ago

Can you tell me the source of the couch in the top photo? It looks like it is one long cushion and has wooden legs. Thanks!

6 years ago

How many chairs is too many? I have a couch, a leather recliner and two small scale chairs and I think is too much for the space but can’t figure out how to style this room. PS Its long and skinny to make matters worse.

6 years ago

Thank you, Donna! ❤custom writings

erica palframan
6 years ago

Extremely supportive post! This is the sort of substance I stick and return to again and again when I’m making buys. While I adore seeing makeovers and watching the advance of Emily’s home, I likewise cherish these educational posts that take something conceivably scary and make it receptive.