Browse Category: Living Rooms

The Chair of the Beautiful Thing About Dad

On a recent weekend day, I awoke out of a much-needed nap to find a curious new addition to our living space: a large, bulky, well-worn, dark blue leather sweater. I rubbed my eyes in disbelief like it was Christmas morning. Funny how you can never understand just how much you actually needed something until it is right there before you.

My wife’s father had simply dropped off the chair. It was a gift from his mom, my wife’s grandmother. I am told that my wife’s grandfather had sat in this chair for many years until he died. I stared in awe at exactly the same thing. I eventually had my first Dad Chair. And then a strange thing occurred.

Neither my wife, son nor I had laid claim to the chair, but in my mind it was immediately obvious that it had been mine. This was for Dad. Me.

I felt territorial and possessive. My mind raced with thoughts of me sitting at the chair drinking scotch and saying sensible things, of reading thick leather-bound literary tomes and, needless to say, watching soccer matches every Sunday. But we do not have a TV. And that I hate scotch. And that I read trashy detective novels and rarely say wise things! What’s?

You can see here that the chair is nothing outstanding. (But man, it is comfy.) Why am I feeling so animalistically “manly” about a very simple piece of furniture?

Turns out, there are a great deal of variables involved with my brutish behavior. “Generally, the Dad Chair is a protected base for the dominant male in a home,” says environmental psychologist Sally Augustin. From “normally,” Augustin is referring to the obvious fact that there are many distinct households, some with no men at all. My psychological behavior relating to this chair is actually a culmination of biological in addition to cultural influences.

Shannon Malone

Let’s look at the latter. “There’s a great deal of nonverbal communication happening with these chairs,” Augustin says. “From the first ’50s sitcoms, dads have had control of the living room recliner, which recliner today screams Dad to us raised in the West.” That might help explain my urge to drink face-contorting malt whisky and see a sport I really care very little about.

And that I really do have lots of memories of my father’s claimed territory throughout multiple houses we lived in when I was growing up. He never actually had a Dad Chair, but he definitely had his spot, marked by an indention at the couch, where he’d sit every night, his knees bent and his feet tucked up under himself, with a small lean from the left armrest so he would reach his glass of wine on the side table. My mom moved to a new location in San Diego about a year before, and sure enough, the couch arrangement is identical, and his spot was recovered.

Holly Marder

Amsterdam art dealer Hyland Mather knows that too well. Nothing was said, but the brown leather chair shown here became the Dad Chair in his household.

“I am unsure how mine turned into mine, besides I am the person who discovered it and hauled it inside,” he says. “I do not care when somebody else sits in my chair, but frankly and for no spoken motive, nobody else does. My father has a chair in his house that nobody else sits, and as far as I know he had made no verbal objections to others sitting inside it, but nobody does”

There are no formal criteria for a Dad Chair, although we have previously provided some helpful suggestions for locating the perfect guy chair. For Mather there’s just something intrinsically different about the older broken-in chair when compared with the midcentury pieces found elsewhere in his property.

“It fits me,” he says. “It smells great. It’s brown. Brown is great. In our house it is the cigar of chairs.” (Of note, he says, is the fact that his wife has her own chair, too. However, for some reason, everyone sits inside)

Sarah Greenman

Many Dad Chairs, but do have a couple things in common. You’ll notice that many have springs that are substantial. From a profound, historical biological standpoint, this is so whoever’s sitting at the chair doesn’t feel threatened about somebody’s sneaking up behind them, says Augustin, who is written about primordial behavior concerning biophilic design.

Sarah Greenman

Another interesting thing you’ll find with many Dad Chairs is that their place. “They are probably positioned so that it has a view of the major door into a space, that’s the ‘power position’ in any area,” Augustin says. (Without considering it, I put my chair directly in view of front door)

There has been research on how we have a tendency to sit over and over again at precisely the exact same chair in classrooms and at precisely the exact same place, which has its own benefits. “It seems we get emotional support from being at precisely the exact same place on multiple occasions,” Augustin says. This runs in combination with needing an individual’s own space and territory in order to modulate emotions.

“Territories are very important to us emotionally. We all need a place that we control and may return to and personalize — it will help keep our anxiety levels down,” Augustin says.

Right. So stay out of Dad’s chair.

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