Don’t mix fabrics on similarly styled recliners

Dear Gail: My husband has always wanted a big overstuffed recliner, which is not my style at all. He’s retiring next month and has worked so hard for our family, I feel he deserves it. We went shopping and compromised on a large wingback style. I never thought I’d like a recliner, but after trying them all out, we’re getting one for me, too. We’re rearranging our room so that we can sit side by side across from the television.

I’d like the room to have a feminine touch, as well as a masculine feel to accommodate my husband. I was thinking of doing my chair in a floral and his in a hunter green leather. Since they will sit side by side, will it look OK? — Agustina

Dear Agustina: Oh, for the love of the comfort of a recliner. I had a client years ago in the same situation. Her husband wanted one, and she was set against it. She was sold as soon as she had a seat. If the pups didn’t love to sit on the sectional with us, I’d have a set of my own.

Being that the recliners will sit side by side, I would keep the fabric the same on both of them. Using different fabrics will make them look like a mismatched pair or seem that you had one and at a later date purchased a second.

Now, I do place different fabrics on chairs in the same room, but they usually are two different styled chairs. In one traditional room, we purchased a large recliner that was upholstered in a masculine plaid. With it, we paired a smaller wood-framed armchair that was upholstered in a small floral print. The two chairs had different fabrics, but they were different styles and sizes and not next to each other.

Instead of the floral, are there any stripes or plaids that would work with your other fabrics in the room? Stripes are timeless and work well in just about any room. You can find them in many different styles that don’t read masculine or feminine. Another timeless option is a small geometric print.

If you want to give each chair its individuality, have two different accent pillows made. Keep the pillow designs simple — say, an 18-inch square.

His could be solid with a contrasting welt made from the recliner fabric. Yours could be a coordinating floral with the welt made from the solid fabric on your husband’s pillow. If you want your pillow a little fancier, use a brush or tassel fringe in place of the welt. This way your pillows are different but coordinated with the fabric usage.

I would also add a few more pillows to your sofa that bring in all the fabrics you are using on the recliners. My two favorite accent style pillows are mitered and envelope. Their design calls for multiple fabrics. If you like a lot of pillows, use a different fabric on the front and back on a few 20-inch squares. It gives you two pillows in one with the reversible option.

I love pillows but, personally, don’t have many on my sofa, as I find they get in the way when we’re sitting there. So by placing multiple fabrics on them, it gives me the versatility of changing the look. Don’t be afraid to mix and match the styles and fabrics, as it will bring the room together.

Enjoy your recliner.

Gail Mayhugh, owner of GMJ Interiors, is a professional interior designer and author of a book on the subject. Questions may be sent by email to Or mail to 7380 S. Eastern Ave., No. 124-272, Las Vegas, NV 89123. Her web address is

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