Why Are Armchairs So Expensive? (Explained)


Armchairs are typically part of a functional living space. They come in many styles, shapes, sizes, and prices. What determines the cost of an armchair is based on several factors.

But if two factors can be singled out as the reason for the high cost, it would be the quality of build and the upholstery fabric used. More expensive chairs are built to last. Durability is a huge factor in the manufacture of chairs for better furniture companies. Quality of build and materials are paramount in the manufacture of an expensive chair.

Chairs have been through numerous style changes over the centuries, decades, and years. We can be thankful for that. There were chairs made hundreds of years ago that not only looked uncomfortable but looked awful as well. Not so with the armchair of today.

What describes an armchair? Simply put, it is a comfortable chair, usually upholstered, that allows a person’s arms to rest with side supports.

Chairs are constructed from metal, wood, or other strong materials, like stone or acrylic. In many cases, several materials are incorporated into a chair; for example, the legs and frame may be made from wood, and the seat and back may be made from woven material or even plastic. In addition, the entire chair or the seat alone may be padded or upholstered in various fabrics and colors.

Other construction details that affect the cost of the chair are:

  • Assembled or unassembled
  • Down Fill Cushions
  • Nailhead Trim
  • Removable Cushions
  • Soft and plush sink-in seats
  • Solid Wood Frame
  • Swivel
  • Tufted Cushions

Armchairs are the perfect accent for any room or space in a home. For example, a high back chair can complete a library or reading nook, or two low lounge chairs can add comfort and function to any living room.

Price Range

Armchairs are versatile and beautiful, all the while giving people more places to spend time together. While they can vary in price, it’s not always easy to see why one piece is more or less expensive than another. So what exactly is a typical price range for an armchair?

Generally, you can expect to pay around $200 to $800 on average. However, some manufacturing and design processes can dramatically affect the price of armchairs. In addition to the craftsmanship and upholstery material mentioned above, other factors that can affect the cost are the frame material, designer, and age.

Because the range of armchair prices can vary so much, it can be hard to determine a reasonable price to pay. Use the following facts to help you understand the cost of armchairs.

Frame Materials Used on an Armchair

The two most commonly used chair materials are metal and wood. Wooden chairs are more rustic or natural, or they can be minimalist, depending on the overall design style of your room. Metal framed chairs are typically more modern-looking and industrial.

Basic wooden-legged chairs do not cost as much as those that require intricate woodworking during the manufacturing process. Metal chairs are typically cheaper than wooden ones because the metal is easier to work with.

Whether the armchair is handmade or assembled in a manufacturing plant has a considerable impact on the overall cost of the chair. Both metal and wooden chairs have their pros and cons, and both can be lovely if the room they are in is decorated with style and taste.

Chair Upholstery

Most armchairs have a frame or structural part, then an upholstered part that you sit on. The chair backs and seats are generally filled with foam seating pads covered with canvas, some type of cotton, or leather material. Most armchairs are made for function and to enhance a room’s style, so they can be found in a wide range of patterns, colors, and fabrics.

Chairs intended to be sat on less and mainly observed, such as an accent chair, can use a basic cotton fabric upholstery. It is less expensive and can be printed in beautiful colors. But an armchair is made to be used and must have a more comfortable seat and luxurious appearance.

Though less common, leather can be used on armchairs. A thick grain leather can make an armchair look very elegant, and the material lends itself to more professional spaces. Leather also is cool to the touch and is very comfortable. However, this choice is more expensive, so the price will go up because more work is necessary to upholster with leather, and the material itself is more costly.

Can Designers Influence the Price?

As with jewelry, art, clothing, and other unique items, designers can charge essentially any price they want. This is because the cost of a designer piece is controlled by supply and demand. However, if you really enjoy the work of a specific designer and know they create pieces that cater to your sense of taste and style, then it may be worth the extra cost.

Maybe you own several pieces from the same designer sharing common themes, colors, or patterns and complement one another beautifully. If this is the case, stick with what you love, and don’t try to incorporate a less expensive piece into your beautifully decorated space.

If you just want to find an armchair to complete a room set or provide extra seating when guests come, a less expensive, non-designer piece may suffice. On the other hand, if you find an armchair you love but think the price may be too high, you may have found a designer piece and need a more generic armchair to fill your needs and space.

How Does Age Effect the Price of An Armchair?

There are some ways the age of an armchair can affect its price. Especially with mid-century modern armchairs, the costs can be prohibitive. These are essentially retro pieces and are extremely rare. As they are no longer made, they become collectors’ items. A chair such as this, while costly, can be so lovely it may justify the price. They can also be a conversation piece as you can discuss with guests the origins of the furniture.

On the other hand, you can probably find armchairs for a smaller budget at garage sales or antique stores, as no one has noticed their value. You can find rare pieces this way, and it can be worth the time invested in searching.

Balance Price and Usage

There is a balance you need to find when purchasing most furniture pieces. This balance depends on how you intend on using the piece. For example, is it to serve as an art piece that you frame with other room elements? Or do you want to increase the seating in your living room or family area?

If the purpose of buying the armchair or pair of chairs is more for looks than service, you should spend closer to the low end of the average price. There are many attractive chairs in the $200 area that are comfortable and will serve the purpose. You should not overspend on seating that you later realize was barely used, such as in a more formal living room space.

When discussing designer furniture, armchairs, and other furniture pieces, they can be quite costly.  This, of course, will afford you better upholstery, design, materials, and craftsmanship. As a result, you can expect to keep this piece of furniture for years and years to come. Generally, you get what you pay for — sometimes.

Don’t Sacrifice Design to Save Money

But it’s not always the case that when you pay more, you get better. Sometimes you can find a truly exceptional piece of furniture for less money and at the same time find a piece that cuts corners with a higher price tag. There are so many armchair designs you should never feel like you must settle for something you don’t love and that will not add function and beauty to your space. Keep searching until you find an armchair that you love and fits within your budget parameters.

Some chair designs are so classic, timeless, or sought after they’ve been reproduced time and time again. That could make it more challenging to ascertain if an antique or vintage chair is a contemporary knockoff or an original. In addition, some chairs feature an upholstery fabric that signifies a particular era or decade, such as olive-green velvet with a large, printed design in vogue during the 1960s through 1970s.

A closer perusal of the fabric or bottom of a chair typically reveals clues about its origin and age. Antique chairs are those made more than 100 years ago, and vintage chairs span the time up to the 1970s.

But regardless of style, color, or design, an armchair is a vital piece in any living room, family room, or other space where people gather. Because there are armchairs available in any price range — for a little over $100 to almost $10,000 for a designer piece — it all depends on the above factors, making it possible for anyone to purchase an armchair to enrich their space regardless of their budget.