Each morning, while it's still dark outside, I pour a cup of strong coffee, snuggle into my favorite chair and mentally prepare for the day. No matter how haywire the day goes, it always starts out right, thanks to my comfy chair. Need a chair to help you face all that life dishes out? Here's how to find one that suits your seat perfectly. Mary Carol Garrity, Scripps Howard News Service
Go for quality: Don't settle for anything less than a high-quality piece. Poorly made furnishings may look great on the showroom floor, flashing their seductively low price tags, but after going 10 rounds with your family, pets and guests, their beauty will quickly fade and you'll be left with a "bargain" that creeks and sags and is split and warped.
When you invest in a high-quality piece, your chair will look brand-new for years to come. Before you buy, make sure the chair seat deck has eight-way, hand-tied steel coils that are supported by polypropylene and steel strapping. Double-check to see that the frames are made of kiln-dried hardwoods and that the joints are double-doweled, with every corner blocked, screwed and glued.
Pick the purpose: To pick the right chair, you have to determine what role it will play in your home and in your life. Where will the chair be located and how will it be used? For instance, will this chair be a statement piece in your formal living room — or will it be in your casual family room, hosting popcorn-eating TV watchers?
Who will be sitting in it on a regular basis? Rarely do I find a chair that fits a man as perfectly as it does a woman or a child, so my advice is to choose the person who gets dibs on the chair and select one that fits him or her just right.
Select the features: Finding the chair of your dreams is easier if you know exactly what features you want. Here are a few questions to consider to focus your search.
• What type of cushions do you want? Seat cushions are a lot like mattresses: Some people like them firm, and others want them sink-into soft. Do you want a chair with a tight back or cushion back?
• How high do you want the back of the chair to reach? High enough to rest your head against, or low enough to see over? Wingback chairs are all the rage again, and some people (mostly women) love how this cozy classic envelops them in a hug. Others (mostly men) find wingbacks constraining because they block their field of vision.
• How wide and deep should the seat be? Some people like wider chairs so they can tuck their legs up next to them. Most of us want chairs deep enough so we can comfortably touch the floor.
• How high do you want the arms to be? A lot of folks love English club chairs with arms perfectly positioned to allow you to read the newspaper.
• Skirt or exposed legs? Unless you're crazy about skirts, I recommend getting a chair without one because fabric skirts get dirty easily.
Test drive: Take the chair you're considering for a test drive. How do you sit in your chair at home? Assume the same position at the furniture store. Throw your legs over the arm, tuck them under you or snuggle into your favorite nap position. If you don't feel so comfortable that you hate to get up, the chair is probably not the one for you.