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Best desk chair 2021: Style, affordability and comfort from £12

Gareth Thomas
1 Dec 2021
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The very best desk chairs you can buy, whatever your budget or style

Buying yourself the best desk chair is essential if you’re a student or you work from home (an all too likely scenario these days). Comfort and support are important: after all, many adults in the UK spend around 9 hours a day siting down, according to the NHS. We put a great deal of time and effort into buying furniture like sofas and armchairs, so it follows that we should put in a similar amount of effort when choosing a decent, comfortable desk chair.

We’ve already covered some of this territory in our list of the best office chairs, which we highly recommend checking out if you’re looking to invest in an ergonomic chair with all the adjustable bells and whistles for a more comfortable home-working experience.

However, we’ll be covering a broader selection of desk chairs here, including static chairs and stylish seats as well as budget-friendly options. Read on for our top picks, as well as some helpful buying advice on how to choose the best desk chair for you.

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Best desk chairs: At a glance


How to choose the best desk chair for you

What should I look for in a desk chair?

It goes without saying that a good desk chair should be comfortable to sit in for long periods and, ideally, have sufficient back support so you aren’t slouching or hunched over your desk.

Depending on the style of chair you choose, you might also look for adjustable height and depth. Almost all office swivel chairs will have an adjustable height, back position and tilt, and high-end models might also come equipped with adjustable arms and headrest.

Desk chairs without wheels or a swivel base, such as cantilever chairs, probably won’t have these adjustable features, but they’re a good choice aesthetics-wise if you’re after something that doesn’t look like it’s been lifted right out of an office.

How much should I spend on a desk chair?

For a decent but affordable desk chair, we’d recommend aiming for something priced between £60 and £80. Go below £50 and you’re at risk of seriously compromising on quality and comfort. Of course, if you’re planning to use your desk chair for shorter periods, you might be happy opting for a cheap folding chair, which will set you back much less.

On the other hand, if you’ve got the cash to spare, you’ll find plenty of stylish or highly ergonomic desk chairs costing hundreds of pounds. Ultimately, how much you spend should depend on your priorities and how much use you plan to get out of your desk chair.

Anything else I need to consider?

  • Desk size: The last thing you want to discover when you get your lovely new desk chair home is that it doesn’t fit with your desk. The standard desk height is around 30in (76cm). Naturally, height will be less of a problem if you’ve got an adjustable office chair, but you should always check the dimensions of your desk alongside those of the chair you’re thinking of buying, including width.
  • Floor type: This can be easy to overlook, but if you’ve got a thick carpeted floor you probably don’t want to put a chair with castor wheels on it. Not only will it be a nightmare to manoeuvre your chair around the room, but it’s more than likely that you’ll get bits of carpet stuck in the wheels, and potentially even ruin the carpet itself.
  • Can I try it out first? The drawback of buying chairs online rather than from a showroom is that you can’t sit it in them before you buy. Since the question of comfort is a largely subjective one, this can be an issue. However, most online retailers will have a returns policy if you’re not pleased with your purchase. It’s also worth checking the warranty of an item so you know how long you’re covered.

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The best desk chairs to buy

1. Best desk chair for vintage style: Corrigan Studio Gisselle Desk Chair

Price: £140 | Buy now from Wayfair

If you’ve always admired the smooth design of the Eames lounge chair, then you might also like this. The Gisselle desk chair from Wayfair is, fortunately, much more affordably priced than an Eames chair, but it still has a rather nice mid-century modernist aesthetic about it

It’s got a castor wheel base, 360° swivel and a pneumatic seat height adjustment, but be aware that you can’t adjust the tilt. The seat itself is upholstered in foam-filled faux leather, which many Wayfair customers have reported to be comfortable enough.

It’s perhaps worth pointing out that the wood shell, sporting a beautiful walnut grain finish, can be prone to scratching, so it’s worth making extra sure that your desk will be able to accommodate it.

Key features - Dimensions: 89 x 54 x 54cm (HWD); Seat height: 47-59cm; Weight: 12kg; Main materials: Wood shell, faux leather upholstery, iron frame; Warranty: 1 year

Buy now from Wayfair


2. Habitat Padded Faux Leather Folding Office Chair: Best budget folding desk chair

Price: £12 | Buy now from Argos

By far the cheapest entry in our roundup, this lightweight chair from Argos can be folded away and stored, or moved to another room, with great ease. At just £12, it’s a great budget option if you’re not planning on spending long periods sitting at a desk but need something for short stints on the computer. It can also be used as a kids’ chair or a spare seat for pretty much any occasion.

User weight tested for up to 110kg, the metal frame is padded with faux leather in a choice of three colours: black, grey, or white. For the ultimate budget, space-saving set up, why not pair it with the Habitat Compact Folding Desk?

Key features - Dimensions: 79.5 x 44.5 x 47.5cm (HWD); Seat height: 45cm; Weight: 3.6kg; Main materials: Metal, faux leather; Warranty: 1-year guarantee

Buy now from Argos


3. Symple Stuff High-Back Mesh Desk Chair: Best affordable office chair

Price: £75 | Buy now from Wayfair

This office chair from Wayfair is easy to assemble and comfortable,thanks to its high back rest. You get a fair amount of customisable features, including adjustable seat depth, back angle and centre tilt, at a reasonable price. Adjustable armrests would be a nice addition, but there’s really little else you could ask for from an office chair that costs less than £100.

Key features - Dimensions: 119 x 57 x 56cm (HWD); Seat height: 48-58cm; Weight: 12.5kg; Main materials: Metal, mesh, faux leather; Warranty: N/A

Buy now from Wayfair


4. John Lewis Classico Leather Office/Dining Chair: Best cantilever desk chair

Price: £399 | Buy now from John Lewis

If the prospect of castor wheels suggests havoc for your carpets, you might want to avoid the typical office-style chair altogether. This leather cantilever chair is a comfortable and stylish alternative, built on a sturdy steel frame.

It’s a versatile chair, designed both for dining and office use. If using it as an office chair, John Lewis recommends it for “light or occasional use at your work desk”, specifying a maximum of two hours a day. That said, several customers were more than satisfied in its ability to function as an office chair for home working, with one review in particular describing it as “the most comfortable chair in my house”.

Key features - Dimensions: 86 x 56 x 62cm (HWD); Seat height: Unspecified; Weight: 10kg; Main materials: Metal, leather; Warranty: N/A

Buy now from John Lewis


5. Oliote ergonomic kneeling chair: Best affordable kneeling chair

Price: £94 | Buy now from Amazon

The appeal of the kneeling chair is its highly ergonomic design: it can relieve back pain and be beneficial for your posture and spine alignment. Ordinary desk chairs, no matter how ergonomic they might be, can still leave you uncomfortably hunched over your desk. A kneeling chair, on the other hand, engages your core and evenly distributes the weight of your body. Some even suggest that they can help with your breathing and digestion.

This height-adjustable kneeling chair from Amazon is padded with a 3in moulded foam cushion for comfort, and comes with castor wheels that can be locked into place. While it can be great for improving posture and relieving back pain, the lack of back rest might put off some from using the kneeling chair as their regular, permanent seat. That said, at under £100, it’s not a massive investment as far as desk chairs are concerned.

Key features - Dimensions: 58 x 46 x 57cm (HWD, at tallest setting); Seat height: 51-58cm; Weight: 9.3kg; Main materials: Iron, foam padding, faux leather

6. Made Thelma: Most stylish desk chair under £100

Price: £99 | Buy now from Made

The Thelma combines the swivel design of an office chair with that of a four-legged dining chair. The curved seat with cushioned upholstery makes it a comfortable desk chair, with little assembly required beyond attaching the sturdy solid oak legs.

We particularly love the Thelma for its minimalist Scandinavian design. It comes in a range of colours, including white, grey and, our favourite, this two-tone orange and black design.

Key features - Dimensions: 84 x 49 x 54cm (HWD); Seat height: 47cm; Weight: 6kg; Main materials: Plastic, PU; Warranty: N/A

Buy now from Made

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