Finally Deciding on Living Room Chairs

I had been struggling for two years to find the right living room chairs. I put hours into testing seats, photoshopping mock-ups, and browsing styles online, and I even tried a few in the room before returning them. I was dealing with clashing elements in the space that kept dictating what kinds of chairs would be a good fit.

How to pick living room chairs

This post is in partnership with Article!

The blue velvet couch that now lives in the den was previously in the living room. The bright color, the velvet fabric, and the tufting steered me away from any other seating that had those elements. I just didn't want a room full of tufted upholstery or oodles of color. The living room's woodwork has orange tones that kept me from any of the camel colored hues or natural wood hues. Even though I wanted a chair like this, it simply would have been too much.

Living Room Before

We lived with that super clashy teal chair and the wooden dining chair for a couple of years while I hunted for the right ones. These two were leftovers from our old house and they were probably the worst chairs for the space - oy.

I was on the lookout for neutral colors, with simple lines, that were neither bold nor boring. It was a tricky thing to do! I was looking at traditional designs, modern wingbacks, casual cushionsswiveling bases, and so so so many more.

But then, the blue couch and the existing teal chair moved to the den when I transformed that space for the One Room Challenge earlier this year. And my world opened up! I moved the grey sofa into the living room and it instantly neutralized the space. I still plan to replace it with another piece without tufting and a lighter color, but I'm happy to have it for now as it lets the chairs be the center of attention rather than the big couch.

Through the swapping of furniture, I learned that I prefer a simple couch to ground the space, with accent chairs to add the personality. I also came to the realization that I wanted to find ways to make the living room feel more casual. The traditional woodwork, my affinity for velvet (more on that later), and the fact that the space is free of a TV, makes the room feel quite formal. An easy way to make a space feel less formal is to not go super matchy matchy. Some may disagree, but I decided I'd get two accent chairs that didn't match. 

So, I started my search over from scratch and this time I could source pieces that had color, texture, tufting, and leg designs that would complement a future couch. I could also pick two favorites instead of narrowing it down to one!

I'll quit my ramblings and just show you which beauties I picked out from one of my favorite online retailers, Article.

Blue velvet living room chair

Aren't they the bee's knees? 

Blue velvet Matrix chair from Article

Surprise surprise, I got another blue velvet piece! I just love the texture, and so does the cat! We've learned that velvet is the best material for avoiding cat scratches. Mabel does her fair share of scratching on rugs and furniture around the house (and I follow right behind her with a spray bottle attempting to dissuade the behavior). It's super frustrating and I've tried all the tricks to get her to stop, but velvet is by far the best material for holding up to the cat's natural tendencies.

That texture is simply irresistible to me and the cat. She spends HOURS lounging on this chair, it's her new favorite spot.

Blue velvet Matrix Article chair

I fell for the Matrix's color and fabric, but its scale fits the room just as nicely. In my heart of hearts I wanted a big wingback that I could curl up in while wearing a smoking jacket and plaid house shoes as I peruse my collection of leather bound books that are so aplenty that they are only accessible from a library ladder. But, literally none of that applies to my daily life, so I'll have to save that scenario for my dreams. This real life room needed something smaller scale to maintain sight lines to the adjoining dining room, and narrow enough that the walkway wasn't blocked. Matrix is a perfect fit with it's compact size.

Forma chair from Article

Now the Forma chair. What a beaut! The fabric texture adds just the right amount of detail without distracting from the pretty shape. With all of the chunky woodwork in the room, I wanted something that had soft curves and sleek legs that added visual lightness and this chair fit the bill.

Forma Article living room chair with gold detail

Check out the back detail! Since the chairs float between two rooms, the backsides are just as important.

How to pick chairs for living room

Ordering chairs online can be worrisome if you don't have the chance to try them out beforehand. Our home's chair critic (Ross) was wary, but he absolutely adores the comfort factor. He's the kind of seating judge that if he says "it's fine" then you're winning. It's a multi-layered evaluation that I don't fully understand myself. But after I found him quietly sitting in the Forma chair for ten minutes, I asked his opinion and without skipping a beat he said, "I love it." Victory! He had the same feelings about Matrix, but he had to wait until the cat got out of that seat before he could indulge.

Styling living room chairs

It's so great to walk into the house with these chairs on the welcoming committee. Now, I need to get a new side table and a new couch to really let these beauties shine.

Be sure to check out the other beautiful chairs from Article, including this perfect caramel wingback, and this one that looks great in blue velvet, too. They also carry lots of other modern furniture pieces, all for a flat shipping fee of $49. Plus, the Article team is just so darn nice!

I wasn't kidding when I said that Mabel loves the Matrix chair. I tried to remove her for the sake of these photos, but she kept jumping back into her spot.

blue velvet living room chair

Tell me, am I pushing it with the blue velvet furniture in my house? Would you do non-matching chairs? Which cat scratching remedies are effective for you? Who is the biggest chair critic in your family? Which Article chairs do you fancy? Share away!

Deciding on A Tank or Tankless Hot Water Heater

A couple of weeks ago, our hot water heater failed. We took a few cold showers, asked for recommendations, and debated tankless or tank options for days.

Hot Water Heater Debate

Our unit was a whopping 26 years old (!) which is triple the life expectancy of today's water heaters. It lived a good life, but just had enough, I suppose. I get it, 2017 has been a rough year. It acquired a leak (maybe tears?) that dripped onto the pilot light, extinguishing the flame. We could relight the light, but the leak had already rusted out pieces of the heater and it got worse day by day.

Tank or Tankless Hot Water Heater

Thus, we needed a new hot water heater. Before I get into shopping for a new one, a brief PSA. Is your heater easily accessible? Do you have experience relighting the pilot? Have you already identified which valve shuts off the gas and which shuts off the water? If not, I recommend you take a look at your unit and get comfortable with how to make adjustments in case of an emergency. Either a cold water emergency or worse - gas or water leak emergency.

And back to shopping for everyone's favorite product. The biggest, and really, the only decision we had to make was if we wanted to go with the tank or tankless option. In short, the tank is your old fashioned giant cylinder hiding in your garage, closet, or backyard. Using either gas or electricity, it keeps oodles of water constantly hot. A tankless option is a small rectangle that sits on the wall patiently waiting for you to ask for hot water. When you open the tap, it turns on and heats the water as it passes through the unit. To decide which we wanted, we broke down the differences and evaluated how they fit our needs.

Size

Tank: These big cylinders filled with 30-60 gallons of water don't do anything for aesthetics. They can eat up valuable real estate in a garage, closet, kitchen, bathroom, etc.
Tankless: They look like what someone in 1980 would imagine a 2020 backpack would look like. Or maybe more like a hand blow dryer in public bathrooms. They're little and mount on the wall instead of sitting on the ground. It's a perfect option for replacing a tank that sat in an ideal spot for anything other than a tank of water.
Our take: Our hot water heater sits outside of our house. It faces our neighbor's driveway and lives in its own hut attached to our exterior wall. It isn't bothering anyone at all, so we had no motivation to downsize.

Demand

Tank: Since the hot water is already heated, you get that hot water pretty much as soon as you turn on the tap. If you use up all of your hot water, you have to wait until the tank reheats itself which is not a fun thing to wait for while you're in the rinse and repeat stage of your shower.
Tankless: Since the water heats up when you ask for it, the unit needs a bit of time to heat up and get up to your preferred temperature. You'd have to keep the tap open and wait until the cold water becomes hot. But, you'll never run out of hot water once it's on so you can rinse and repeat all day long.
Our take: I lack patience and don't like wasting water waiting to get to the scolding hot temperature I need. Additionally, we've never run out of water, so the tank format is already working for our needs.

Efficiency

Tank: Imagine keeping a giant pot of water simmering on your stove at all times day and night. But imagine that pot is the size of a stout human. That's basically what the heater is doing. Not very efficient.
Tankless: It heats water only when you need it. Super efficient.
Our take: We love efficiency - this is the primary motivation to switch to tankless.

Power

Tank: Gas tanks need only gas. Electric need only electricity.
Tankless: Even if your water is heated with gas, you need to run electrical to it so it can power the brains of the system.
Our take: Even though the tankless unit would be more efficient in terms of its energy to heat the gas, it's just one more device drawing power off the grid. Plus, we didn't have power available to easily run to the unit.

Failures

Tank: If a tank fails, it could leave you with a disastrous flood.
Tankless: If it breaks, you'll be without water, but luckily water won't be all over your floors.
Our take: Our unit is outside. If it failed, the neighbor kids could make a slip-n-slide in their driveway, and my garden would be happy. We're super lucky - not everyone has this luxury. However, if our neighborhood's power goes out (which it does frequently in the hot summers) we would be without hot water - which I guess we wouldn't really even want in the hot summers anyway. But I've heard some folks report that turning the tankless unit back on is a real pain and not just a something that turns on when that surge of electricity comes back.

Price

Tank: We were quoted $1,200 for a 40 gallon tank replacement.
Tankless: We were quoted $3,500 for a new unit.
Our take: Depending on how much you value each of the above items, the extra price of tankless may be moot. Or, depending on your area and capacity needs, the prices may be more similar. However, since we didn't need the smaller size or more demand, the extra price was really just to get a more efficient unit. Getting a return on the savings is debatable.

Are you still with me? Is a post all about my logic for buying a house utility at all interesting?

Conclusion

We bought a tank. A boring run-of-the-mill 40-gallon tank. You probably could have guessed it, but the benefits of tankless just don't apply to us. Maybe if we go solar we can get an electric thankless unit in a few years when the tank ultimately fails. (fingers crossed for solar!)

I drew all of my information from my online research and hearing from your experiences! But, if I missed anything, please use the comments section to weigh in and share your thoughts. I'd like to see this blog serve as a resource based on your experiences as well as mine!

Isn't she pretty?

New Water Heater