To Swivel, or Not to Swivel?

By Christine Brun

February 21, 2018 4 min read

If you have a confined furniture layout, there are times when only a swivel chair will do the trick. When you have two focal points in a room, such as a fireplace and a TV screen on separate walls, a swivel will allow you to shift your line of sight easily. It also spares you from needing two different pieces of furniture and keeps a small space open.

Perhaps you have a view to a backyard that sometimes includes children or dogs playing on a patio or deck, or in a pool. You may need to watch the activity carefully. Or you may simply wish to enjoy a rooftop garden, balcony or porch once in a while. The nifty characteristic of the classic swivel is that you can swing around to change your view.

First, know that the metal mechanisms that enable the swivel action are incorporated on a variety of chair styles, from bar stools, to desk chairs, to armchairs. When considering a lounge chair with upholstered arms, you should know that there are models in styles from contemporary to traditional that offer the convenience of a rocking chair that can swivel 360 degrees. These are known as swivel/tilt chairs. Such designs are very useful in situations where you want to direct attention toward the center of a room while reserving the option of turning around to see the other end or outside.

While lush and colorful, our example is notably oversized. This is a swivel love seat for one or two that is about 53 inches wide by 51 inches deep. Consider a gorgeous swivel love seat piece as a substitute for a traditionally sized mini sofa. It's perfect for zoning off a single room from a kitchen or entryway because of its size, or for providing needed seating for watching TV. When not in use for those purposes, the entire unit can swing around and face another wall or an outside view. Clearly, a large swivel love seat needs ample room to articulate and move freely.

If your particular situation lacks sufficient room for something like this to work, maybe another approach is better. For instance, in a continuous living and dining room in a small home where the furniture is very close together, you could hunt for dining chairs that swivel and tilt. When the chairs are comfortable enough, you and a guest or two can stay seated to take in an after-dinner sporting event on TV or a movie without having to move to a love seat or small sofa.

When there is only enough space for two barstools in your apartment, peruse the offerings to find a style of stool with arms, a built-in footrest bar for comfort and an adjustable height achieved with a pneumatic gas lift system like the ones used on desk chairs. That combined with the 360-degree swivel ability turns a barstool into an easily used seat. Some models also have what is known as a "memory return" so the seat swivels back into place after a person stands. When compared with a wooden stool, an upholstered barstool is generally superior in terms of comfort.

Finally, talk to a local upholsterer if you cannot find the perfect chair for your purposes. She could add a mechanism to an existing chair provided that the design can hide the metal device. Be certain to pay careful attention to how much of the mechanism, if any, will be visible so you will not be disappointed with the final product.

Photo Credit: Seriously Sofas

Christine Brun, ASID, is a San Diego based interior designer and author of "Small Space Living." Send questions and comments to her by email at [email protected] To find out more about Christine Brun and read features by other Creators Syndicate writers and cartoonists, visit the Creators Syndicate website at

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