The 10 Best Adirondack Chairs
This wiki has been updated 23 times since it was first published in October of 2016. Struggling to settle on a suitable style for your outdoor seating area? You can't go wrong with the classic lines of these Adirondack chairs, which come in a range of colors and designs. There are even options with built-in footrests. Choose from natural woods that age to a lovely patina or low maintenance synthetic materials — either way, you'll be sitting pretty in no time. When users buy our independently chosen editorial picks, we may earn commissions to help fund the Wiki.
May 24, 2019:
The shape of the iconic Adirondack chair may seem pretty streamlined by now, but the items selected for this list boast a surprising variety of features. You can choose between faux and genuine wood (there are several types available), models with footrests that nest in the seat, foldable options, and more. No matter what climate you live in, there's an Adirondack chair here that will meet your needs.
The Outdoor Interiors Eucalyptus and Lifetime Faux have been promoted to the first and second spots, respectively. The Shine Company Catalina was moved to the last spot because, despite its popularity, shoppers have raised concerns about its quality and difficult assembly process.
PB Classic Pottery Barn's take on the Adirondack chair is just as elegant and simple as you might imagine. The Classic is made from sustainably sourced eucalyptus and mahogany woods, and it's even been approved by the Forest Stewardship Council. Plus, it's incredibly comfortable. potterybarn.com
Loll Designs Lounge The coolest thing about this model is definitely its built-in bottle opener, which is located underneath one of the armrests. If you enjoy sipping beer in the summertime, you'd be hard pressed to find an option more appealing than this stylish and functional piece of furniture. dwr.com
Choosing An Adirondack Chair
On the aesthetic side, you’ll find type of wood, color, and style alternatives.
The Adirondack chair is instantly identifiable thanks to its wide armrests and a slanted back made from slats. Although at first glance Adirondack chairs appear uniform, you’ll actually find quite a few variations among models. These differences generally separate into two categories: those that impact aesthetics and those that impact functionality. Many combinations of these features are possible, so there’s an Adirondack chair for just about everyone.
On the aesthetic side, you’ll find type of wood, color, and style alternatives. Natural wood variations are perennially popular, since they’re neutral and fit in nearly any home. Teak, eucalyptus, cedar, and pine are common woods craftsmen choose for these chairs, as are durable plastics designed to resemble hardwood. Wood or plastic can be stained or painted all the colors of the rainbow, from deep red to light violet. Style variations offer somewhat more narrow choices, since this chair has a recognizable shape and design. You’ll find important, subtle differences, though, such as narrower or wider arms and varying numbers of slats.
When it comes to functionality, probably the biggest concern after comfort is durability. After all, these chairs are most commonly used as outdoor furniture, so it’s important that they can stand up to the elements. Ways that manufacturers make these chairs long-lasting include adding UV-resistant coating, using stainless steel hardware, and choosing paints or stains that are proven to withstand rain and moisture. A quality paint or stain can also make cleanup much easier, perhaps in the event that a guest becomes a little too gestural with a glass of wine or springtime pollen coats your furniture.
One last thing to think about is whether you’ll take your chair with you when you go to the beach, outdoor concerts, or the park. If so, look for foldable models that provide portability. These usually collapse to a relative flatness so that you can pop them in and out of your car’s trunk.
A Few Decorating Tips and Ideas
Many people think of an outdoorsy, rustic style when they consider decorating with Adirondack chairs, but these versatile pieces deserve much more credit. Thanks to classic, simple styling, an Adirondack chair will fit into nearly any type of décor, including shabby or vintage chic, contemporary, glam, industrial, coastal, and more. They provide a blank canvas and can function as a focal point, contrasting element, or simple fade-into-the-background utility piece. Weatherproofing options render them appropriate for both indoor and outdoor use; try them as comfortable and attractive seating for gazebos, patios, verandahs, living rooms, gardens, and more. And don’t worry — you won’t need a degree in interior design to effectively decorate with these chairs.
For uniformity of design, keep these pieces all in the same style, or try a mix for a modern, eclectic flair.
For instance, one simple way you might use your Adirondack chairs is to create a cozy reading or conversation nook. To encourage lingering, add soft goods for comfort. You might throw a sheepskin rug over the seat and back rest to provide a soft, luxurious touch. Pillows will provide neck and head support, while a throw blanket gives warmth on a chilly evening. Try soft goods in bold colors that contrast the chair for an eye-catching visual statement.
If you’d rather not cover up your chairs, but you still seek to draw the eye and make a statement, you might try painting your pieces. Since the Adirondack chair offers a reasonably large canvas, creative owners have gone far beyond simple one-color paint jobs in order to make a personal statement. World maps, animals, team names, beach scenes, and even portraits are just a sampling of the many unique ideas for giving your new chair a distinctive look.
You might think about the pieces you’ll pair with your Adirondack chairs, as well. A wood-slat table offers a stable space for extra beverages or books, and a footrest lets you prop up your tired legs. If you live in a sunny area, a beach umbrella might be necessary for some shade. For uniformity of design, keep these pieces all in the same style, or try a mix for a modern, eclectic flair.
A Brief History Of The Adirondack Chair
The Adirondack chair has a fairly straightforward origin. In 1903, Thomas Lee was visiting his summer home in Westport, New York, with his family. They had scenery and tranquility but, unfortunately, no comfortable place to sit and enjoy them. To fix this problem, he designed what he called the Westport plank chair. With his family, he tested prototypes until the chair was comfortable — an excellent perch for enjoying a cold beverage. It so happened that Lee had a friend named Harry Bunnell, a carpenter, who needed extra income during the winters. Lee lent the plans for the chair to Bunnell, who recognized its potential. He filed for a patent, which was published on July 18, 1905.
Lee lent the plans for the chair to Bunnell, who recognized its potential.
Although Bunnell continued to sell the Westport chair for the following 20 years, the chair didn’t receive its exact contemporary shape until the 1930s, when Irving Wolpin received his own patent for a version of the design with a more rounded back. Many claim that it was Wolpin who gave the chairs the name of Adirondack, although others argue that the name came about due to its popularity in the region of the same name. Nowadays, carpenters and manufacturers put their own design touches on these chairs, which have come to be called Muskoka chairs, as well, especially in Canada. These chairs remain popular thanks to the comfortable seating they provide in a range of styles and price points.
As for Thomas Lee, many surmise that he couldn’t have been too upset with Bunnell for patenting his design because he never took any official legal steps to reclaim what was, by all rights, his. Perhaps he was happy for his friend, despite the fact that he wasn’t even aware of the patent until after it was granted. On a more positive note for Lee, he is remembered as the creator of this classic and beloved piece of furniture even today, so at least he ended up with fame, if (perhaps) not wealth.