ask a cool person

What Are the Best Office and Desk Chairs Under $250?

Photo: Ernst Haas/Getty/Getty Images

If you’ve been working from home, you’re probably thinking a lot more about your desk chair than you used to. The Shaker-style cane-seated antique desk chair that was once the perfect accent for your room might now be a source of lower-back pain — and the old clunky ergonomic number from the office might be looking more and more like the epitome of style and comfort. But a posture-supporting chair doesn’t have to be hideous, and it also doesn’t have to cost you hundreds, if not thousands, of dollars. To find those ideal, relatively affordable office chairs that offer style and support, we reached out to a panel of interior designers and some business owners and CEOs (because they don’t call it an executive chair for nothing). Read on for their favorite swiveling, seat-adjustable, and still nice-looking picks.

Several of the interior designers and bosses we spoke to recommended a ribbed management chair, which borrows from the iconic shape of the Eames Group Management chair. Sarah Pierson, co-founder of a shoe start-up (and purveyor of excellent espadrilles), told us several versions of the management chair have been used at Margaux HQ. “The sleek design makes it a stylish accent, while the comfort-minded construction delivers all-day comfort,” she says. “As I’ve been piecing together a workstation at home, I’ve found myself longing for the saddle-hued version that outfits our conference room.” Pierson told us she thinks the style is “particularly chic” when paired with a modern, white lacquered or marble table.

And for an even more affordable version, try the chair that Sarah Brady, founder and creative director of interior-design firm Salt Design Co., told us her company bought ten of for their new design studio. “After months of working from home in makeshift home offices, we wanted something not only beautiful but functional as well,” Brady told us. “Desk chairs aren’t always the most glamorous, so we opted for a chair that blended in versus making a statement — I love the simplicity of the white, and it’s faux leather, so it’s easy to keep clean.” Brady also praises the chair’s high back and padded seat, which she told us makes it “very comfortable for long days in front of the computer.”

From $110

Decorist designer Casey Hardin is also a fan of the management-chair silhouette, and told us about this one from Modway, which has similar swivel and adjustable-seat capabilities, but is made with faux leather that has a smooth finish, rather than ribbed.

If you want something with a more rounded shape, consider this task chair, which comes recommended by interior designer Brigette Romanek. “The shape of this chair is a classic one, which means it will fit into almost any aesthetic,” she says. It’s not all style, though — it has plenty to offer on a practical level, too. “If you’re like me, you sit in your chair for hours at a time, so the chair has to function and support well,” says Romanek. “The wheels on this one move smoothly on hard surface flooring, and the back support is great.” She points out that the chair is available in a few different colors, and that the seat swivels — plus, the seat height can be adjusted, making it an ideal option for “students and professionals” alike.

This (faux) leather chair has a similar shape to the Ebern, but without the wheeled legs, which might be a more appealing option for the home office with a carpet or overly slippery hardwood floors. According to Heather Goerzen, Havenly Creative & Design, the chair has “modern executive-home vibes,” thanks in part to its lovely tan-colored vegan leather. “The camel hue will bring warmth and richness to your space while the stitching detail adds an element of craftsmanship,” she says. “With a cushioned seat and rounded back, this chair will offer much-needed support and comfort throughout the day.” And for that, “your back will thank you,” she adds.

If you want something that’s a bit more of a statement piece, interior designer Sasha Bikoff says that this egg chair from Seletti is one of her favorites. “There are all different prints, so you can mix them up,” she says. “I think they are a fun, inspiring touch to any office.” The chair is as practical as it is fun to look at: “They’re super comfortable with the padded seats and extra light, which is also nice when you need to move your chair around,” says Bikoff. Plus, they fold up if you need to stash them away.

Decorist designer, Mikayla Keating agrees that color is key when it comes to choosing a desk chair. “A bold colored chair will help liven up your office space,” she says. This one, from Kelly Clarkson Home, comes in green and orange velvet with gold accents, should you be outfitting your office with a slightly retro look. “I love the glamorous look of this desk chair,” says Keating. “Not only is it comfortable, but it adds a statement to the room. I recommend it in green or ivory.”

Those looking for something authentically retro might turn to vintage and consignment sites like Chairish. Shilla Kim-Parker, CEO and co-founder of Thrilling, a digital marketplace for vintage shopping, told us that she has a vintage office chair that she loves, and while the exact one isn’t available online currently, this Italian one from the 1960s is a pretty close alternative. “I love it because it has fantastic structure, and just enough cushioning to make it comfortable without making me want to take a nap,” says Kim-Parker. “It’s also wide enough to easily allow one of my toddlers to jump up and sit on my lap, and best of all, who doesn’t love a good swivel?”

If you want something that only nods to the past, this Ikea chair comes highly recommended by interior designer Jamie Bush. “The sculptural bentwood white oak shell pays homage to its mid-century predecessors, while the all-white seat and base make this a chic contemporary showstopper,” says Bush. This is another good option if you prefer a chair with legs without wheels.

Another particularly sleek pick comes from Goerzen, who told us about this task chair from Article. “With a mid-century inspired design and a range of stylish colors (from neutral white and blacks to playful greens and blushes), this is a clever twist on a traditional task chair,” she says. “I love how easy it is to mix and match with a number of desk and room styles.”

And if you really want to go minimal, Rae Wellness co-founder Angie Tebbe says this Active Seat helps her create a home-office environment that supports her physical well-being. “I purchased this chair because it promotes movement and good posture throughout the day,” she says. Like many of the chairs on this list, it has an adjustable seat, and it has a particularly slim silhouette that would work well in small spaces. It might be worth considering for those with standing desks, too — yes, standing is the point, but if you want to take a break from being on your feet, a minimalist stool might not be a bad idea.

The Strategist is designed to surface the most useful, expert recommendations for things to buy across the vast e-commerce landscape. Some of our latest conquests include the best acne treatments, rolling luggage, pillows for side sleepers, natural anxiety remedies, and bath towels. We update links when possible, but note that deals can expire and all prices are subject to change.

What Are the Best Office and Desk Chairs Under $250?