Occasional chairs are the furniture equivalent to the little black dress. They can go anywhere, but more than that, they can be easily accessorized to set just the right tone. A stroll through some of my favorite house tours left me with a renewed appreciation for these little hosts and their ability to make a whole room interesting and inviting.

It was only after I had collected the images for this post that I realized that almost all the house tours had the word "retreat" in the title. But that's exactly the tone that the chair vignettes evoke: quiet, cozy, relaxation. Unlike tables, which are meant for display, a chair conveys a subtle concept of welcome. Since their main purpose is for sitting, they have that inviting draw even when being used as a backdrop.

Adir & Marcello's Worldly Retreat is full of vignettes, arranged with casual precision. This draped chair is like a little foretaste of what's to come.

Caitlin's Artist Retreat in The Hills is a stylist's dream. Every surface boasts an interesting array of natural and created objects.

Beth & Bill's Soulful Straw Bale Retreat. The casually draped handmade scarf and the bowl of yarn make the whole room say: this is a relaxing, un-rushed place.

• Layered abundance seems to be the unifying theme in JoAnn & Dan's Creatively Collected Home, and that's apparent just from glancing at this chair. One pillow may not have set the same tone, but 4 pillows and 2 throws definitely do.

• The simple throw and fedora in Trent's Relaxing, Beach-like Retreat create an instant carefree vacation vibe.

And the best part about the occasional chair, of course, is that it can serve a function too!

(Images: As linked above)