Sit Down: Stylish Accent Seating

Interior designer Nadia Watts, principal of Denver-based Nadia Watts Interior Design, shares ideas on how to select accent seating for added function and style.

People often ask me how to get that “finished” look in a house. I think they’re referring to the pulled-together style of a home that has beautiful finishing details—the last elements that transform a space from a functional room into a place that draws you in and invites you to stay for a while and relax. Those last details are often the smallest: art, pillows, accessories, and—drum roll, please—accent seating.

Photo via Houzz

Benches, poufs, ottomans and stools are the perfect additions to rooms because you can have a little fun with them without making your room too quirky. Plus, they’re essential for anyone who loves to entertain. (Unless, of course, you like schlepping up the basement stairs carrying extra chairs every time you have a party.)

Here’s how you can make accent seating the perfect addition to your home:

Decide what you need: Walk around your home and find the “empty” spaces that might hold an accent seat. Do you have a bare wall in the hallway or entry against which you can put a bench? Or maybe you have a console with ample room underneath, where you could store a pair of footstools or poufs. Often there’s room in front of a fireplace or at the end of a bed to store a small bench or a pair of small footstools.

Image courtesy Nadia Watts

Choose an unexpected fabric or texture: Once you have an idea of what your home needs, look for options that show off material you don’t already have at home. Leather, faux leather or fur on a bench is fabulous. If you have a room with a muted palette, a pair of stools in a bolder color could be a great, playful addition. (You can even add a few throw pillows in the same color to tie the space together.) Maybe you have a room with a lot of texture, but not much print: A pouf in a large-scale pattern could be the design icing on the cake. And one more tip: If you’re looking at a bench with a leg, don’t try to match the leg style to the other furniture in the room. Choose something different to add interest.

Image via Houzz

When choosing a fabric for your bedroom, think of how you want the space to feel: calm and relaxing or spicy and sultry? A good strategy is to keep all the fabrics subdued with just a few pillows and a small bench in bold colors or patterns—or both!

Image via Houzz

Where should you look? I love to find benches at antique or vintage shops. If you’re in a hurry, you can find a wide range of beautiful options at Horchow and Ballard Designs.

Poufs are everywhere. You can find Moroccan leather poufs at Serena & Lily; a range of choices in funky, contemporary styles at West Elm; and wonderful homemade poufs from No matter where you shop, choose a durable fabric. (This is not the place for silk!) Leather, canvas, thick linen, and indoor/outdoor blends—especially if you have kids—are all good options.

Image via Houzz

Great sources of stools include Noir and West Elm. And remember, when you’re considering stools, you likely want a pair. They just look better that way.

Image via Houzz

Move them around: When you entertain, pull out accent seats so that they’re accessible to your guests. (Don’t wait for Aunt Millie to drag that bench from the entry to the spot in front of the fireplace.) And if you’re prone to rearranging the furniture even when you don’t have guests, accent seats are the perfect tools for giving your house a little design update. Move a bench to the end of your bed. Replace an ottoman with a pouf in front of a wingback or club chair. Add two stools under the console in the entry. Then sit back and enjoy your beautiful, polished space.

Image via Houzz

Categories: Interior Designers