No one can deny the timeless style of a classic rocker that can instantly make a room look homelier. If you are considering investing in a rocking chair, knowing what to look for can be the difference between the item becoming a family favorite or finding its way onto the next garage sale. Any rocking chair can look good, but making it comfortable may be entirely different.
Rocking chairs can be extremely comfortable and soothing. How comfortable a rocking chair feels depends on five primary factors. These are the design, how controlled the motion is, your height compared to the seat height, where it is positioned, and your mood while using it.
For most people, a rocking chair is soothing and relaxing, while for others, the rhythmic back-and-forth motion can be uncomfortable and distracting. Let’s look into the issues that affect how comfortable a rocking chair feels so that you select one that will be a perfect match for your home.
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Is A Rocking Chair Comfortable?
Sitting is usually a stationary activity, but a rocking chair adds movement safely and gently. Unlike many other pieces of furniture, a rocking chair isn’t just a functional piece. It goes beyond offering practical seating and adds elements of relaxation and entertainment.
Not all rocking chairs have been created equal, and while some allow your thoughts to wander to whimsical far-off places, others can be downright uncomfortable. We all know the classic straight-back wooden rockers once popular on porches. They can be fun and look great, but you would never be able to take a nap seated in one – it is never long before your bottom and back start feeling the straight lines and solid wood.
Let’s look at five important things affecting how comfortable a rocking chair will feel. These are:
- The design of the chair
- The motion of the rocking mechanism
- Your height compared to the chair
- Placement of the rocking chair
- Your mood while in the rocking chair
Each of these factors brings very different dynamics to your rocking chair experience. If you have fond childhood memories of a special family member rocking gently to and fro, you may want to recreate the experience and focus more on the chair’s appearance than the comfort. The great news is that you need not trade classic looks for comfort.
1. How Rocking Chair Design Affects Comfort
If you think rocking chairs are only solid wood porch decorations, think again. Designs vary from basic wood classics to plush, highly decorative feature pieces.
There are plenty of choices, so whether you prefer a practical style that can wipe clean with a lick of furniture oil or favor a more luxurious padded style. When choosing a design, keep the following elements in mind:
- Offers comfortable armrests – You may want a rocking chair that hugs your body, and you can rest your elbows on the armrests, or you may prefer a broader design that envelopes your entire body. If you are a pillow person, select a wider design to accommodate your collection of decorative cushions.
- The surface material and color – If you have kids or pets, you may prefer a strong, easy-to-clean material or a sturdy wooden design. When selecting a color for your rocking chair, remember that light colors look beautiful when new, but rocking chairs are not stationary. They may be more prone to accidental spills than other furniture, so be prepared for the occasional cleanup.
- Padded back support – unlike a regular chair which holds your spine upright while rocking, your weight is shifting. This can strain your lower back if the chair is straight-backed without support. You can add a lumber support pillow to any rocking chair design later, but if comfort is the primary consideration, think about getting one that cushions your back.
- High back and with contoured sides – if you may doze off in your rocking chair while reading a great book or sitting by the fireside, select one high enough to support your neck. Many rocking chairs also feature contoured sides, so your sleepy head will have something to rest against.
2. Choose The Best Motion For Your Rocking Chair
Classic rocking chairs have distinctive rounded rocker rails, also called rockers, attached to the chair’s legs. These usually give the chair the ability to rock back and forth. However, a new generation of rocking chairs is available that glide back and forth on a track. This gives these chairs more of a backward-forward motion and removes the slight up-down sensation of the old-fashioned style of chairs.
3. Get The Rocking Chair Height Right
It is much easier for a tall person to sit in a full-sized classic rocking chair than for someone short. To feel secure, you want to be able to rest your feet on the ground when you want to without having to roll the whole chair forward.
Likewise, when you want to rock the chair, you must point your toes to press off the ground if the chair is too high. This may be entertaining for a few minutes, but it won’t feel relaxing or comforting after a few hours.
So when investing in a rocking chair, ensure the seat is not too high off the ground. Sit in the chair and try it. Remember that your weight will naturally push the chair backward, so your feet may lift off the ground, and you don’t want to throw your whole body forward each time you want to make the chair rock.
If you are lucky enough to have been given or inherited a classic rocking chair, you can get around this challenge by adding a footstool or small ottoman. That will add the extra height your legs need to control the rocker’s movement comfortably.
4. The Comfort Of A Rocking Chair Is Affected By Its Placement
Consider the placement of a rocking chair in your home. This is important in how frequently it will be used and if it will be considered comfortable and relaxing or hard and uncomfortable. A rocking chair covered in homely cushions beside a fireplace or a nursery is more likely to feel like a comfy nook to unwind than one cluttering up a tiny attic or used as a toddler’s time-out chair.
In the same way as a chair in the waiting room of a dentist’s office and the same chair in a library have a very different feel about them, think about where the rocking chair in your home is placed to extract the most comfortable happy memories from it.
5. Your Mood Affects How Comfortable A Rocking Chair Feels
Rocking is one of those motions that either calm and soothe you or wind you up. If you are relaxing and taking time, settling down in a rocking chair will probably feel soothing and comfortable.
However, the perpetual motion of the chair may cause irritability in someone agitated or anxiously waiting to hear important news. The user controls the speed of the rocking chair, so someone tense may be inclined to rock the chair more vigorously, which will further lead to the chair being perceived as uncomfortable and heightening their mood.
Try to place a rocking chair in a quiet area where activities on the chair are reserved for quiet reflection, reading, conversation, needle crafting, or gentle rocking with the baby. Rocking chairs do not make good television-watching, gaming, or study chairs as the movement can be distracting, and they are not still at the right angle, so they may feel uncomfortable if you need to sit upright a lot of the time.
A rocking chair is a timeless piece of furniture that is usually very comfortable and relaxing. Some factors do affect the comfort of a rocking chair. These include design, rocking mechanism, seat height, placement, and mood. However, a rocking chair is almost always a special item of furniture in any home that the entire family will treasure for many years.