Style VS Comfort

Ahhhh the age old battle.  In one corner of the boxing ring we have Design Diva; she wants everything to be stylish, gorgeous, and pleasing to her keen, aesthetic eye.  In the other corner, Practical  Princess; she wants her butt cushioned, back supported and her furniture smart and sturdy.  Here they are duking it out for the opportunity to furnish MY new home.  Problem is, I don’t know who to root for.

Now before you get your panties in a bunch- Yes, I realize there is furniture out there that is BOTH stylish and comfortable.  It seems, though, that the pieces that I LOVE are a little bit more beautiful to my eye, and slightly less comfortable for my bum/back and other parts.

Dilema 1: Beds… well headboards actually.

(Left is Wisteria’s French Country Wood Headboard, 
Right is West Elm’s Grid-Tufted Grasscloth Upholstered Headboard)
Lately I’ve been hot-to-trot for wood carved headboards.  Everytime I see one I fall a little harder.  I love the detail, the richness, and character they bring to a bedroom.  I want my headboard  ornate, and the rest of my bedroom furniture simple and clean.  Of course we would fill in with pretty accessories, lighting, knicknacks and a vase of flowers.
 I adore the intricate carving of the bed mixed with this colorful quilt.
Simple, pretty, PERFECT.  All I need now is a concrete wall!
(Both images from Indian Summer)
(via country living mag)
I could even recreate the second headboard, if I wanted.  Vivaterra offers a 60×60 teak lotus carved panel that could stand in for a beautiful backdrop for my bed.  On sale now for $498. 
But would I regret my choice to forgo the cushy comforts of an upholstered headboard?  I don’t know; I’ve never had a headboard.  Right now Mr. Drywall (and a bunch of pillows) support me while I sit in bed.
Does anyone have a wood headboard and really regret it?  Does anyone have an upholsted headboard and have an undying love for it?   Tell me peeps!
Dilema 2: Dining Chairs
(Left is Design Within Reach’s Marais A Chair
Right is Restoration Hardware’s Vintage French round side chair)
I haven’t been a bit shy about announcing to the world my complete love and devotion to the Tolix Chair. I love the industrial chic look, I love the lines, I love how it complements any decor.  I have even sat in in and loved how it felt…. for 5 minutes.  And then I had to get up because the DWR employees were starting to give me weird looks.  But will I still love them after a three hour dinner party?  Will my friends hate me for forcing them to sit in drop-dead-gorgeous metal chairs? 
(nina gotlieb via design sponge)

I guess the big question is- Is it crazy to spend over $1,000 on 6 chairs that don’t even have a cushion?
After all- I do enjoy Louis XVI chairs a whole lot.  And they can rock the industrial vibe with the right table…
(Restoration hardware flatiron table)

BUT, I don’t love them as much, and they are even More money than the Tolix chairs.

So what do you think…. how important is a cushy seat when you eat?

And what other style vs comfort items plague you?

Anyone want to take bets on who wins the fight?
I’ll tell ya, Practical Princess takes a beating everytime I scour design blogs….
  1. jordan

    right?? so hard to balance the two. i haven’t figured it out, that’s for sure.
    when it comes to beds, i’m completely drawn to the kind of cold, hard, masculine headboards, and really big fluffy comfy pillows and blankets. but i have no idea how to execute that glamorously :)

  2. Hmmm, I’m down with upholstered headboards, but they just don’t seem as sturdy (plus, our house = 3 crazy cats). So, I’d go with wood and just pile on the pillows. They’re all lovely, though, what a choice to have to make!

  3. I recently had this dilemma with a sofa purchase for my living room. I found one (new) that was exactly the look I wanted but the construction was a little iffy.

    I found a similar, but not the same, down-filled sofa in a consignment store at a comparable price.

    I ended up going with the down-filled sofa.

  4. I know exactly what you’re talking about! I always struggle with this–beauty and style vs. practicality and comfort. Ugh.

    I LOVE those carved wood headboards. My headboard is wood (although nowhere as itricate as these!) and its fine. Granted I don’t spend too much time sitting up in bed.

  5. I’m not a designer, so take it or leave it, but here it is:

    Go for the ornate headboard and the comfy chairs. Maybe you can use your favorite chair in the kitchen?

  6. I am going with Beauty!! Love your blog!!
    Best, Connie

  7. What the shiny pebble said. You can add comfort to a wooden headboard, but you won’t enjoy sitting in uncomfortable chairs for long.

    That said, I don’t even know if the tolix chairs are uncomfortable. Also, seems like you could get them cheaper elsewhere…? Maybe?

  8. Love all your picks…but at the end of the day, comfort always wins out..at least for me.

  9. sherri

    I have never sat in a cushy chair when I’ve eaten. Maybe that’s why I’m so damn grumpy all the time.

  10. Asaf

    Your post definitely helped me get perspective on the dining room chair. I have a better appreciation for the tough decision you have to make. Normally, when comfort is a factor it’s usually not a question for me, comfort is king (or queen if you prefer) but upon personal reflection I’ve realized that’s not always true. I actually think there’s a big distinction between a bed and a dining room chair, in terms of style vs. comfort but more on that later.

    Essentially, based on your thoughts, if you ignore price, I would choose the metal chairs because you think they are nicer and reasonably comfortable. I came to this decision (for you) because my feeling is that a dining room chair only needs to be comfortable enough so the person sitting in it doesn’t feel uncomfortable. Specifically, what I mean by that is as long as they don’t continually shift positions in their chair or think, “I’m uncomfortable,” then I would say that chair is an acceptable choice. So, since you like the metal ones better I would go with those.

    This opinion, is drastically different from one that I have for a sofa or a living room chair. I would never consider purchasing something that wasn’t very comfortable, very comfortable, regardless the style. This same philosophy extends to beds, but I don’t think the wood headboard will compromise that. As your other readers suggested, if you plan on sitting up in bed, get big comfy pillows. Even with an upholstered headboard you’ll probably want some if you plan on sitting up in bed.

    I want to finish by saying, I enjoyed this post. Although, your focus is on style/design I think the essence of the topic is the experience, in this case the dining experience. The decision you are going through made me think about it at a deeper level and so for that I thank you and impart my thoughts. Now, I hope you have conquered the dining chair dilemma but please don’t forget the other important aspects of the dining experience…Good food, good drinks and the most important of all, good people.

  11. You know it dude. Dining is all about the experience and the food. Hoping to cook many a delicious meal with you and Bec as my guests!!

    PS- we are still wisting after the metal chairs, but have yet to drop the dough.

  12. By the way, the absolutely BEST place to buy these large headboards would be the huge market in Bangkok. There’s so much beautiful woodcarving for dirt cheap that it would pay for your trip…

  13. Thanks for the tip, Jennifer! Would love to do some shopping in Bangkok…. that sounds amazing.

  14. Naomi,

    Hello! Thank you for referencing a pic from the blog. I have to tell you that I LOVE the tolix chair (maybe even a bit too much). They are, in my opinion, the best chair ever! I use them at my kitchen nook table and I have some at my dining table also. I worried about the comfort factor too but after setting in them for 3 hours at a restaurant in Paris, I was sold on the idea and had to have some no matter what the cost!

    I hope that helps with your decision… besides I am all for form over function!

    Christina

  15. Thanks, Christina!! That really does make me feel better. Think I am going to go for it.

  16. Greg

    You gotta love Tolix chairs though. I thought about trying to make them to save some $$.

  17. This is so funny; Ive been contemplating on the EXACT two chairs for my dining room for a while now!! I am now leaning towards the marais, and agree with one of the previous comments that said that dining chairs need not be THE most comfortable furniture (living room, yes). With that said, i do want to get cushions for them so I can make them a bit more “butt-friendly” for longer dinners (Christmas, Thanksgiving, etc). Great post!

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