The Morris Chair - An Arts and Crafts Recliner

By Bailiegh Basham · June 13, 2022

The Morris Chair - An Arts and Crafts Recliner

Learn About the History and Evolution of the William Morris Chair​

Sturdy. Reliable. Unmistakable. Handcrafted.

Why is the Morris chair still relevant today? This popular chair design has come a long way since being named “the first recliner”. A staple of Arts and Crafts furniture style, the comfortable chair is equipped with an adjustable back and dates back to the 19th century. Since its inception in the 1860s, the Morris chair has changed the meaning of comfort making it one of the most widely loved and produced pieces of furniture in the modern era.

BROWSE AMISH-MADE MORRIS CHAIRS AND WOOD RECLINERS

The Morris Chair Over the Decades

The prototype for the recliner chair was originally designed by a carpenter named Ephraim Colman in Sussex, England and later developed by Warrington Taylor. The details were then passed to Philip Webb, one of the founding members of Morris, Marshall, Faulkner & Company (later to become Morris & Company). The Morris chair was popularized in the mid-19th century by the Morris & Company and later updated in the United States by Gustav Stickley, founder of the American Craftsman Movement (source).

Our Amish handcrafted Morris recliner chairs most resemble Gustav Stickley's redesign, an updated classic for the modern home. Over the decades, this chair design has remained a favorite among chair enthusiasts, designers, and Craftsman and Mission homeowners alike.

Ezra Morris Chair

 

Morris Chair Construction

An unmistakable design, the Morris Chair is crafted from real wood with both a seat and back cushion. Most commonly, this timeless chair is crafted from Quartersawn White Oak with a golden hardwood furniture finish (such as our Burnished Honey or Terra Cotta wood stains). However, Countryside Amish Furniture enables you to order the William Morris chair in other hardwoods including Oak, Brown Maple, Cherry, Hickory, and Walnut (to name a few).

Several different interpretations of the Morris Chair have been created - some are bow-armed, flat-armed, and slant-armed models, even cushioned-armed versions.

Hallstatt Paneled Morris Chair

 

The Morris Chair reclining mechanisms is delightfully low-tech. It is not equipped with any levers, springs, sensors; it functions with pegs inserted into holes in the arms. As the sitter, you must take yourself around to the back of the chair to make adjustments.

This sturdy solid wood chair with cushions is built along straight, spare lines – reflecting the essence of the Arts and Crafts movement and blending seamlessly with your existing furniture. The Morris chair was a simplified iteration of the traditional form, with a rectilinear shape, flat angled arms, thick leather cushions, and of course the reclining back. Today, Countryside Amish Furniture's Morris chairs can be seen in traditional Craftsman style houses to modern luxury lofts and everywhere in between.


Countryside's Morris Chair Offering

Below you will find some of our favorite Morris chairs offered at Countryside. We've also included footstools and ottomans designed to match your recliner.

 

What Do We Mean When Saying the Morris Chair Has Arts and Crafts Styling

Throughout this piece, we’ve called the Morris reclining chair a part of the Arts and Crafts furniture family. With this in mind, it’s helpful to understand what characteristics define this particular style. 

Born in the UK around the same time as Morris Chairs itself, the Arts and Crafts furniture theme came from a growing dislike of home goods made by assembly lines rather than artisans. Therefore, a reclining chair must be completed by hand in order to be considered Arts and Crafts. Other characteristics tend to include:

  • A simple silhouette made up predominantly of straight lines rather than curvy flourishes
  • Minimal visual enhancements outside of those that serve the function of the piece
  • Solid wood construction that utilizes advanced joint techniques and is completed with a stain
  • Earthy-colored upholstery without patterns (think leather)

Tips for decorating with Morris chairs

Morris chairs’ understated elegance allows them to enhance a variety of different aesthetics. However, they’re best suited for more contemporary styles, such as Mission and Mid-Century. 

There is no wrong way to position your Morris chair. However, the woodwork on the sides (whether it be paneled or slatted) and stain are arguably the most beautiful parts of the recliner; therefore, you may want to situate your William Morris chair so these parts are most visible rather than tucked away. 

Additionally, why not take a leaf from the Arts and Crafts playbook and find inspiration in nature? Place plants nearby to spotlight the earthiness of the chair’s colors and provide soft contrasts to the furniture’s hard, straight lines. 

Many buyers prefer their William Morris recliners upholstered with leather in order to closely follow the Arts and Crafts tradition, this is no hardlined rule. Countryside Amish Furniture lets you add personality to the recliner with a broad range of colors and patterns, letting you tie your Morris Chair recliner in with your living room furniture or have it pop as the ultimate accent.

 

Most common questions about Morris chairs

What kind of chair is a Morris chair?

The Morris chair is a very early style of reclining chair developed in the 1860s. 

Are Morris chairs comfortable?

While seating comfort is subjective, the Morris chair has a number of elements designed to improve comfort. This includes the recline feature, as well as the cushioned seat and back.

How much does a Stickley Morris chair cost?

At Countryside Amish Furniture, our hardwood version of the Morris chair can range in cost depending on the type of wood and upholstery you select. Prices typically start between $1500 and $1700.

Who designed the Morris chair?

The chair was prototyped by Ephraim Colman and later adapated by William Morris' firm Morris & Company.

Is Stickley furniture still being made?

In name, yes. However, the company is no longer owned by the Stickley family. That said, many of the original designs are still being manufactured. 

 

Why Buy Morris Chairs from Amish Furnituremakers

The Morris Chair was born as part of a movement that placed a premium on craftsmanship rather than furniture rapidly assembled at scale. Amish furniture makers continue this tradition with woodworking skills passed down from generation to generation. Each Morris Chair is thoughtfully built, from the selection of the lumber to the carving to the staining. 

Countryside Amish Furniture makes it easy to order Amish-made Morris chairs (and a whole host of other furniture options) to be delivered straight to your home. Each piece is made-to-order, enabling you to choose the hardwood, the finish, and a number of other customizations based on the specific piece.