Modern Replacements for Old-Fashioned Recliners

He wants a recliner, but you think they’re ugly. So what’s a modern alternative to the classic recliner?

By Ande Waggener


The day arrives in nearly every relationship; it’s the day you start frantically asking, “What is a modern alternative to recliners?”


Let’s set the scene. You love your modern home decor. Your rooms are sleek and contemporary. Your colors are current; your furniture is eye-catching and up-to-date.


Suddenly, he says, “Let’s get a recliner.”


“No!” you scream (either aloud or in your head.)


“Just a small leather recliner,” he wheedles.


You love your partner. You want him to be happy. But your beautiful home decor! You can’t ruin it with an ugly recliner. Traditional recliners are puffy and cumbersome. They’re the antithesis of style. You hate them.


If this is you, and you’re asking the recliner question, relax. I’ve got you covered. Move over old-fashioned recliner. These five alternatives are smart, stylish, and will blend with even the most modern decor.


1. The Traditional Chair Look

Not every chair that reclines deserves the ignominy of being called a recliner. Some reclining chairs have a reclining function while wearing the uniform of a perfectly acceptable comfy reading chair.




Modern decor doesn’t have to consist solely of modern elements. Mixing vintage and contemporary pieces can create a stunning now look. Even if your taste doesn’t run toward the eclectic, as long as your more traditional pieces have clean lines and a low profile, they can hang out in a “younger” crowd. So, before you dismiss a reclining chair out of hand, poke around the furniture stores to find a recliner with a traditional chair look.


2. The Modern Styling

Some recliner manufacturers have attempted to keep up with modern furniture trends. Orren Ellis, Latitude Run, Zipcode Design, and Brayden Studio all have recliners with more of a 21st century tone and character.




Even though these modern recliners still tend toward the puffy (hence the comfort level), and they often have high backs, they do have enough flair to blend into modern rooms. Choosing a more modern material, like white leather, can also update a recliner’s appearance.


3. The Sectional with a Chaise

Does he really have to have a recliner? Perhaps he’d be happy with a chaise lounge couch.




The purpose of a recliner is the ahh sensation of being fully stretched out in a feet up, head back position. Recliners are designed for the full-on embracing of your inner couch potato.


A sectional with a chaise can embrace that potato too. Just be sure you choose a sectional with plenty of cushioning and a back high enough to allow slouching into a semi-prone position optimal for TV watching or video game playing. Also be sure that you choose a fabric that can stand up to shoe-clad feet. If you have a light fabric, get it treated with a stain-repellant.


4. The Modern Lounger

Seriously, if your guy wants to be lazy, what could be better than the modern chaise lounge? These form-fitting masterpieces of reclining are so ready for the full body flop that you don’t even need to push a button or pull a handle. They’re like hug-inviting furniture. You can almost hear them inviting seductively, “Come, let me hold you.” Because of their luscious curves and their often cutting-edge metal framing, they’re not only modern, they can even slip right into an avant-garde interior design style.




5. The Sling-back Chair With Ottoman

However convenient it would be to have a piece of furniture in a perpetually reclining position like the modern chaise lounger above, one of the advantages of a traditional recliner is that it can also be an upright chair. When you have guests, you might not want to be sprawling on your back like an overturned turtle.




If your living room space is so limited that you don’t want to devote a whole piece of furniture to “recliner only” status, a sling-back chair paired with an ottoman is a good solution. Somewhat reminiscent of the Mid-century modern style “womb chair,” this type of chair has work-of-art styling; but it offers a similar configuration to old-fashioned recliners.


So have you stopped hyperventilating yet?


You have no need to panic. Your sweetie’s desire to lean back and put his feet up doesn’t have to destroy your well-thought-out room design. The above five options give you a wide variety of reclining choices that will marry a need for noodle-like comfort with a desire for upscale design personality.


And all of that without a relationship counselor in sight. What a deal!


Images used with permission, courtesy of

Next: How to Work Around Ugly Furniture in Your Home Decor