Antique armchairs offer a great way to mix and match styles, says interior designer Eoin Lyons of interior architecture practice Lyons Kelly. "They've already weathered many fashions, offer comfort and can be upholstered to suit your decor."
Eoin Ryan of Straffan Antiques says 19th century springs and horsehair are far more comfortable to sit on than any modern foam seat. He reupholsters, rewebs, reties springs and even washes and dries horsehair in the chairs that he sells.
“What makes these chairs special is their proportions, the quality leather, the overhaul of inner springs done onsite in our workshop, and the historical connection to Williams & Gibton, one of Dublin’s finest early 19th-century furniture makers,” he explains. The pair costs €7,500.
For good lumbar support, Johnston Antiques has a fine Irish Georgian wingback for sale. Made in 1740, the fine carved mahogany seat has carved head arms, claw and ball feet and a horsehair seat, and costs €9,500.
Seat surgeon Fergal Grogan, of Daly Antique Services, gets to see inside every single seat he restores. One way to tell a good chair is to look at its legs, he says. "Legs that are shaped in two or three directions show quality."
For sheer comfort and design he says Howard of London is the best there is.
“Centuries before Scandinavian chairs made headlines these were made using the cutting edge technology of their day. They offer shape, comfort and the right amount of packing, all made of natural materials. The result is the original pure luxury,” says Grogan.
Favoured by the world’s top decorators, a pair can sell for €16,000 and upwards.
The Georgian Gillows Lyre is the original easy chair, says Chantal O’Sullivan of O’Sullivan Antiques. A mahogany-framed pair that Grogan reupholstered in green leather are priced at €17,500. Made in 1813 they were for use in a library, she explains.
“They are phenomenal to sit into,” Grogan says, explaining that being Georgian their design tends towards the plain and so works really well with modernity.
The best-selling armchairs at Acquired, in Portlaoise’s The Store Yard, are Italian mid-century, says owner Domhnall O’Gairbhai.
He says men and women shop differently for seats. “Women go for softer colours while men focus on dark timbers like rosewood and leathers in tan, black and burgundy,” he said.
Interior designer Róisín Lafferty of Kingston Lafferty likes a masculine chair. She bought the orange swivel George Mulhauser Mr chair for a client at Killian McNulty's The Vintage Hub.
Niall Mullen’s pair of 1930s Belgian art deco chrome frame leather seats, €4,500 per pair, with on-trend cream piping could be considered gender neutral. It’s about era and decor mash-ups, says Mullen.