Design Lesson
Jul 14, 2011

Tommy Smythe introduces the versatile occasional chair

Tommy Smythe introduces the versatile occasional chair Author: Style At Home

Design Lesson
Jul 14, 2011

Tommy Smythe introduces the versatile occasional chair

An occasional chair can be one of the most versatile pieces of furniture in your home. Tommy Smythe thinks so, and we sat down with him to hear all the reasons why this charming chair tops the list.


Style At Home: Tell us about the occasional chair.
Tommy Smythe:
The whole idea behind this type of chair is that sometimes it’s tucked next to your entrance hall table, sometimes it’s up against the wall of the dining room, and sometimes it’s in a corner of the living room. The occasional chair is always waiting to be used when the occasion calls for it. It’s the piece of furniture you can rely on to be there when you need it – it’s the best friend of furniture!

OCCASIONAL-1CHAIR.jpgS@H: What makes a great occasional chair?
TS: It needs to be versatile, beautiful from all angles, and light and easy to move around. It also has to be comfortable, because you don’t want to offer a chair to a guest at your party and have them be uncomfortable. OCCASIONAL-FAvourites.jpg Tommy Smythe picks his all-time favourite occasional chairs, at different price points:

LOW (top left) Louis-style frame with linen upholstery, $400, Camilla House Imports.

MEDIUM (top right) CS-542 with upholstery as shown, $732, ChairSource.

HIGH (bottom) Antique Louis XVI-style frame with nailhead detailing and leather upholstery, $3,200 per pair, Five O Seven AntiquesOCCASIONAL-page2.jpg S@H: Tell us about your own chair.
TS: Mine is vintage. It’s a 20th-century reproduction of a 16th-century Louis style. I like my occasional chair to look masculine, because that’s my design aesthetic, but this style is available in more feminine forms if you prefer. When I purchased it, it was upholstered in white canvas. I had the piece reupholstered in a distressed leather to make it look a little more masculine and worn. The great thing about my chair is that it has a very comfortable seat, a nicely angled back, and pads on the arms.

OCCASIONAL-3Chair.jpg S@H: In terms of colour, what decorating tips would you give our readers?
TS: You want to stay as neutral as possible. Choose something that’s going to move easily from room to room and still do the job it’s there to do. My occasional chairs have always been black, white or grey. Beige works, too, if you prefer warmer tones.

S@H: Are there any styles that wouldn’t work?
TS: The good news is that a lot of different styles work. Basically, it shouldn’t look like it belongs in one specific room. A shield-back dining chair, for example, doesn’t work because it really reads as dining. If you’re questioning whether it’s a dining chair, a living room chair or an office chair, you’ve got yourself an occasional chair!

S@H: So before we buy an occasional chair, we should imagine it in every room of the house?
TS: Exactly. It’s the chair that doesn’t belong anywhere – because it belongs everywhere!

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Design Lesson

Tommy Smythe introduces the versatile occasional chair