Please shop for me: desk chair edition
January 18, 2022 5:24 PM   Subscribe

My turn! Can you help me find a new home office desk chair?

Under $325
Has a back
With or without arms
KEY: big enough seat (and if with arms, those arms don't get in the way) so I can sit cross legged/criss cross apple sauce most of the time.
I'm 5'5'' so I don't think this chair has to be huge, but I'd like to be comfortable.
I don't feel strongly about material, color, etc. (I am not interested in those weird yoga chairs for sitting crosslegged because a) I don't need to sit above my legs like that, b) most don't have backs, and c) they have surprisingly low max weight limits and I'm not worrying about embarrassing friends and family who are simply trying to sit in my desk chair. )
posted by atomicstone to Home & Garden (16 answers total) 9 users marked this as a favorite
I have this chair. I am a big person with a glorious booty and I think even *I* could sit cross-legged in it if my legs did that and I was sure they would un-cross if I tried it.

It is sturdy as hell. I have had to invent squishier armrests because they don't have much give and I'm a leaner, but I think my only other complaint is that because it is a tall chair the tallest height is damn near barstool-high, but it's very adjustable.
posted by Lyn Never at 5:44 PM on January 18, 2022 [1 favorite]

I would very strongly recommend going to an office supply liquidator near you and trying to find some used Steelcase or Herman Miller products. They are ergonomically fantastic, are fully adjustable (lumbar, seat depth, height, armrest position vertical+ horizontal, etc), will never hurt your back, often times come with accessories or have them available, and if you search they can be had under $200. I have used the Steelcase Leap (v1) and my wife uses the Steelcase Think (which is more of a "task chair" but is still an extremely robust chair relative to "normal" chairs). I got my father the Herman Miller Aeron, which has helped him tremendously with his back. I am 6 foot and easily sit criss-cross in my Steelcase Leap. If you're concerned about them being used the Leap that I have is almost 20 years old and is still a total champ. Both companies offer excellent warranties on their products (10-15+ years) replacement parts are available, and they are the types of things that you would actually want to keep in good working order for many years (I have done 0 maintenance/repair on mine in 5 years of ownership with no averse effect). Owing to the fact that they cost more than 1k USD new, they really are impressive and make jobs where you have to sit much easier on your body.

There are of course other deals and products to be had but those 2 are regularly available (especially if you live in a place that is near commercial developments). A search of Craigslist for the above terms or Google Maps for an office liquidator near you will likely turn up some different options for you.
posted by boredoms at 8:04 PM on January 18, 2022 [9 favorites]

Seconding Aerons. Also check Craigslist and Facebook. I got one Aeron for $400 on Craigslist, and two more (for my wife, and then for a shared “hotdesk” when we were sharing a 1br and someone had to go into the bedroom to make private work calls) on FB for around $500 each. They’re really good. Steelcase Leap is similar, if that’s what you can find.
posted by Alterscape at 8:17 PM on January 18, 2022 [1 favorite]

When work is paying, I get Aerons, so I will third those. However, when I'm footing the bill I've been pleasantly surprised by my IKEA Markus chair. I can sit cross legged in it (and do regularly), and am 5'6" or so. My only complaint is that the arm rests seem to get wiggly more than they should so I keep an allen key in my desk to tighten them when the mood strikes.
posted by cgg at 8:30 PM on January 18, 2022 [1 favorite]

I use this Serta recliner on wheels. It's very comfortable and I can cross my legs in it at 5'6". The arms might get in the way depending how you sit though. I like to be hugged/contained so the arms pressing on me a bit feels nice personally.
posted by crunchy potato at 8:59 PM on January 18, 2022 [1 favorite]

I second boredoms, I got my Steelcase Amia chair from an office liquidator, and it's comfortable and extremely solid. The armrests slide back somewhat so you can sit cross legged.
posted by Lycaste at 9:02 PM on January 18, 2022

I have the Willy from Structube, which I bought specifically so I could sit cross-legged in! It looks pretty basic but it's well padded, no arms, and has a large seat. I love it.

I think Structube is only in Canada, but perhaps the style will help your search (I am also approx your height).
posted by Paper rabies at 9:26 PM on January 18, 2022 [1 favorite]

I have a refurbed Steelcase Leap v2 at work, and I highly recommend sitting on one before you buy, i.e. don’t just jump on a good online deal. It feels flimsy to me, at 5’6” and womens medium sized. The lumbar support doesn’t feel right no matter how much I fiddle with it. It’s a well-built, highly adjustable chair, and it also just doesn’t work great for me.
posted by momus_window at 10:35 PM on January 18, 2022

I would very strongly recommend going to an office supply liquidator near you and trying to find some used Steelcase or Herman Miller products

This is always good advice - but bear in mind that there has been a pandemic driven rush of new homeworkers looking to do similar - many will have bought the good chairs, leaving the duds behind. My own liquidator did have a number of chairs from these brands - but it also had some much cheaper knock off/ no name brands that were of also built to high quality and which turned out to be more comfortable. Don't discount these.
posted by rongorongo at 4:20 AM on January 19, 2022

N-thing boredom's advice above, a few weeks ago I picked up a used Steelcase Leap office chair for $25 from my local Cort outlet. Somebody in a subreddit for my city mentioned the store had a bunch, and they went quickly.
posted by emelenjr at 6:53 AM on January 19, 2022

I would very strongly recommend going to an office supply liquidator near you and trying to find some used Steelcase or Herman Miller products

So - I did that in July 2020 - but it wasn't cheap - $850 CAD + HST (13%) - the single-most expensive peice of office furniture I have ever purchased. It was already 15+ years old, refurbished - came with a warranty.

Worth. Every. Penny.

I keep a seperate rented office - and my back looks forward to my "chair" every Monday morning...
posted by rozcakj at 7:13 AM on January 19, 2022

My partner and I both bought the Komene ErgoPro Ergonomic Office Chair, which is cheaper than what used Steelcase chairs are going for in our area. I've been very happy with it.
posted by neushoorn at 7:37 AM on January 19, 2022

bear in mind that there has been a pandemic driven rush of new homeworkers looking to do similar - many will have bought the good chairs, leaving the duds behind

There has also been a pandemic-driven rush of office closures, so the supply was still going strong in September when we shopped for a chair for my wife. We went to a used office furniture liquidator that posted on Craigslist, she tried everything they had, and ended up with a Leap that was kind of dirty but new enough (there's a manufacturing label under the seat) and mechanically sound. By the time I cleaned it, it actually looked better than the one I bought new years ago, because I guess office stains come out more easily than hairball stains.
posted by fedward at 7:12 PM on January 19, 2022

I love Aerons, but by crosslegged, do you mean crossing both legs in an x, like you would on the floor, versus just crossing one over the other? If it's the former, I'm not sure there would be enough room (there isn't for me...maybe the Sayl chair would be better?). I got my current Aeron on Craigslist for $50, and later got a couple for my parents for less than $200 each.
posted by pinochiette at 8:26 PM on January 19, 2022

As a 5' 4" heavy set woman, the Aeron chair is the most god-awful uncomfortable thing I have ever sat on. I had terrible shoulder pain from sitting in one at a cubicle job in the early 2010s, and experienced the same terrible pain again at a new job I started mid pandemic. I went so far as to bring in my own old Ikea office chair after Christmas this past year, and my shoulder pain has abated substantially. One of the many defects of the Aeron chair is the lack of cushion on the seat. I have never been able to sit on an Aeron chair any way other than the traditional way of sitting in a chair. When I work from home in my recliner, I sit criss-cross-applesauce all the time. Not possible in the Aeron chair. I think chair preference is individual, so your best bet is to try out some chairs at Office Max or Staples. The Aeron chair is not what you are looking for.
posted by DEiBnL13 at 9:24 PM on January 19, 2022

So this exists for people who like to sit cross-legged... Just saw it elsewhere and thought of this question.
posted by hydra77 at 6:47 PM on January 20, 2022

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