This Surprising Chair Trend Is Taking 2024 by Storm

published Apr 3, 2024
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Cozy scandinavian style living room with a rack, a comfortable seat and a table lamp in winter.
Credit: TG23/Getty Images/iStockphoto

When you think of all the different types of chairs out there, papasan chairs probably aren’t the first that come to mind. In fact, right now I bet there’s a good chance you’re even wondering, “What is a papasan chair?” You definitely know them, even if you’re not familiar with the name. Often seen in classrooms and college dorms, they’re the round, bowl-looking chairs with giant cushions that sit on a stand and frame.

According to a recent Google trend report, papasan chairs were one of the most searched-for side chairs (along with armchairs) from October 2023 to January 2024. It’s somewhat surprising, but they’re also fairly practical. As Small Cool NYC alumni and interior designer Michelle Fahmy of Haus of Meeshie explains, papasan chairs make the perfect “lounge-y” pieces because they’re ultimately “affordable, can really change the whole look of your room, [and] add a lot of comfort to your space.” 

In fact, they’re somewhat reminiscent of vintage mid-century wicker peacock chairs, aka a boho decor staple, which could also explain their current popularity. Below, I’m breaking down how to style them, as well as where to shop for papasan chairs if you don’t own one already. 

How to Style Papasan Chairs

Thanks to the relatively simple cushion construction, it’s easy to reupholster papasan chairs if you prefer something that looks more maximalist or personalized, Fahmy says. “Usually the [cushion] fabric is just solid colors, which is fine,” she explains. “[But] you can take an amazing Schumacher fabric, or deadstock if you can find some cool fabric on Etsy, and really make it like a showpiece in the room.” 

For extra pop, Fahmy also recommends painting the base of the chair, usually made from rattan or a comparable pigment-friendly material. Or for the most low-budget makeover, simply add a decorative throw pillow to the chair. “You can spend $100 on a papasan chair and maybe then splurge on a really cool designer-y pillow for that additional pattern play/color punch, and it elevates the chair as well,” Fahmy says.

Credit: New Africa / Shutterstock

Where to Buy Papasan Chairs

Because papasan chairs largely took off in the U.S. post World War II (the style originated in Asia), you’ll be able to find pretty vintage originals from Chairish, 1stDibs, and Etsy — but, full transparency, those will probably set you back over $1,000. Luckily, brands like Target, Wayfair, and Pottery Barn Teen make affordable versions for a fraction of the cost, which you can keep as is or make over.

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PB Teen

PB Teen nails the classic papasan look with this simple white-and-rattan seat, which can blend in well with any room or design style. For something darker and cozier, though, check out their black sherpa version.

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was $299.99

If you’re looking for a fun solid color, this Wayfair papasan chair comes in 17 different upholstery options — from neutral-hued camel to a soothing sage green.

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Turn a papasan chair into a living room or bedroom focal point via this elevated AllModern frame. Available in black, white, and gold finishes, it's inspired by a Hans Wegner 1950s style.

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Target’s 63-by-45-inch twill papasan chair packs in double the seating. Style this as-is with your choice of cushion colors — like pink, black, tangerine, and more — or pick out a fun patterned fabric separately to make an even bigger re-upholstery impact.

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Home Depot

Home Depot’s swivel papasan chair features a simple cream-colored frame that’s perfect for painting, should you want to try out a new shade. Or, for more contrast, there’s also a brown version with a cream cushion.

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Pottery Barn

Although technically an outdoor chair, this Pottery Barn piece can double as an unexpected seating addition inside, too. It’s definitely on the pricier side, with cushions sold separately, but you basically get to customize the whole seat from the start with a range of upholstery color and pattern options. The handwoven frame adds subtle texture to your space, too.