Three Things to Consider Before Buying a Rocking Chair

A classic, comfortable rocking chair offers the perfect reprieve from a busy, hectic day.

Rocking chair near a window
Rocking chair designs are often simple, so take a close look at the construction to determine if a seat is going to hold up over time.Elena Koppenburn

When it comes to furniture, it’s hard to get more American than a rocking chair. With origins reaching back into the early 1700 Colonies, some people think children’s rocking horses inspired the original concept. However it happened, the idea took off, evolving into various styles from the severe Shaker to plushy-cushioned contemporary stylings. Modern rockers are unparalleled for their comfort and can help rock a baby to sleep or help you catch up on the latest bestselling book. They make a statement about the livability and comfort of your home, so here are three things to keep in mind when you’re evaluating rocking chair options for you.

Best Choice Products 3-Piece Patio Wicker Bistro Furniture Set w/ 2 Cushioned Swivel Rocking Chairs, Side Table - Beige
This outdoor collection rotates 180 degrees so you can stay out of the sun.Best Choice Products

Where you plan to use your rocker will determine a lot about the rocking chair you buy. For a living room, you might look for a cushioned rocker, with upholstery complementing your other furniture. For a nursery, you’ll want an easy, lightweight rocker that’s comfortable, with arms at the right height for holding the baby. Front porch rockers exposed to the weather should be constructed with weather-resistant materials like wicker, teak, or another weather-resistant wood.

Shine Company Vermont Rocking Chair, Black
This traditional style features wide vertical back slats.Shine Company

Rockers come in dozens of different styles and designs, which is one marker of their popularity. Rustic, casual, traditional, or all dressed up as a recliner, there’s a rocker style that fits every decor, use, and room in your home. But one thing some people don’t take into account when they’re shopping is the shape of the backrest and whether it’s completely flat, vertically declining, solid or backed with wood slats, and how each design and shape might best complement the room. Take a look at the other furniture you’ll have around a rocker and try to find something similar so you don’t disrupt your décor or design patterns.

The Gripper Non-Slip Omega Jumbo Rocking Chair Cushions, Chestnut
You can tie cushions to this model for extra comfort.The Gripper

Where’s the point of having an uncomfortable rocker that makes you work hard to make it rock back and forth? A good rocker should offer a balanced mix of back support, armrests fixed at the proper height, and runners curved just enough to let the chair rock easily without a lot of effort. Runner design is a science involving calculating a specific radius and arc size for a chair, that affects the rocking motion, which is itself a matter of preference and personal choice. Typically, people prefer a slow rocking motion, which is the result of a deeper arc and shorter radius.