Updated at: 05-06-2023 - By: Helen Skeates

I hear you asking, “What is a Morris chair?” The removable back, seat cushions, and armrest pads on these are a selling point.

Morris chairs are typically the retractable, “easy” type of chair. Building your own Morris chair from scratch is possible with the right set of plans and some wood.

Some chairs with swivel mechanisms have hinges on the base for this purpose. Morris chairs don’t have to have complicated controls like modern recliners. Slanted arms, bow arms, flat arms, and cushioned arms are just some of the arm options available on these seats.

History Of Morris Chair

The Morris chair was based on a design by an English carpenter named Ephraim Colman, who worked around the mid-1860s. Morris and Co. made chairs with a Victorian look based on this concept, but the design was met with mixed reviews.

In the early twentieth century, Gustav Stickley, a fan of William Morris, made his own takes on Morris chairs. The flat arm, the bent arm, and the bow arm are just a few examples of the iconic designs he manipulated.

Evolution of the Morris Chair - Design for the Arts & Crafts House | Arts &  Crafts Homes Online

Many carpenters in his day copied his looks, and Stickley’s own brother Leopold came up with a chair that incorporated features from both of his designs. The refined and attractive lines of Gustav’s designs make his chairs a popular choice. Because of this modification, his Morris chairs are extremely difficult to construct.

Morris chair designs

William Price’s iconic Morris chair was hand-built from the ground up by skilled artisans at a workshop outside of Philadelphia. The amount of skill and knowledge of a cabinetmaker’s trade that went into his design was substantial.

Price’s innovation was a novel and ingenious method of fine-tuning. The back of the chair didn’t rotate, but instead met at the point where the arms and backrest converged. The bottom seat isn’t attached to the chair frame, so reclining the back simply involves pulling it forward.

Josef Hoffmann referred to his invention as the “Sitzmachine.” This design is the second widely recognized iteration of the Morris chair. His creation may serve as the best illustration of the way in which skilled artisans can direct machinery to produce desirable results.

The chair’s machine-made components were specifically made to serve as embellishments for his design. Hoffmann thought that machines shouldn’t just be used to mass produce identical parts, but that they should also be put to use in the creation of unique, valuable objects.


The adjustable backrest of a Morris chair is one of its most recognizable features. Their construction details can be adapted to fit any aesthetic.

All Morris chairs, regardless of style, must have cushions. Some people take them off before photographing the chairs so that you can get a better look at the intricate designs.

A Comfortable Construction

The back of every Morris chair can be adjusted to suit the user’s needs, making them suitable for use with a wide variety of design vocabularies. Lastly, Morris chairs are, plain and simple, pleasant to sit in.

They’re all cushioned, so sitting on them is a breeze. For the purposes of photography and design analysis, it is common practice to photograph a Morris chair without its back cushion. Cushioned seats and backs, however, have always been the norm.

Morris Chairs in the Arts & Crafts Era

In the early 20th century, Morris chair variations could be found in the catalogs of any respectable Arts & Crafts furniture maker. There were models with bow arms, flat arms, slanted arms, and even cushioned arms, but there was never one without any kind of weaponry. Some designs by American maker Charles Limbert reflected the Jugendstil era, while those of Frank Lloyd Wright and Purcell & Elmslie were influenced by the Prairie School’s boxy aesthetic. Gustav Stickley’s slatted Craftsman style was combined with Prairie variations to create hybrid forms that became widely imitated spindle shapes.

Benefits Of Having A Morris Chair

1. Eases motion

Recliners have a great reputation for helping their users get around. The ability to pivot at the back makes going between sitting, lying down, and standing up much simpler. It’s a convenient way to get up and move around the house or to sit back down and relax while watching TV.

2. No more back pains

Even when seated, many people experience back pain. If your back is bothering you, it could be because you’re sitting in an awkward position. When your back starts to hurt while sitting in a Morris chair, you can change the position of the backrest to alleviate the pain.

Morris Chair | Historic New England

3. Improves circulation

When you sit up straight, your blood rushes to your legs and feet, making you feel lightheaded when you stand up too quickly. Like other types of reclining chairs, a Morris chair allows you to lay flat by slowly reclining its back. By allowing your blood to flow more freely, your circulation improves greatly when you lie down.

4. Relieves stress

Morris chairs are a great way to unwind after a long day. The bending you did is relieved in your back as you recline. While reclining, your legs are propped up, which reduces tension in your lower body.

How Much Are Morris Chairs?

The majority of Morris chairs sold today are mass-produced in a factory, which drastically reduces manufacturing time. These seats lack sophisticated controls like levers and buttons. As the overall frame of these items is typically made of wood, you are not only paying for the comfort and designs, but also for the materials used.

Depending on the type of wood used and the complexity of the design, a Morris-style recliner chair can cost anywhere from $500 to $700. Some could be more costly than others, especially if you consider getting a chair made especially for you. Because it can be passed down through the generations, it is a great investment.

10 Diy Morris Chair Plans You Can Make Today

1. How-To Specialist Morris Chair

The Expert in Instructions A. Morris Chair is a Morris chair that doesn’t need stuffing or complicated angle cuts to assemble. This chair can be easily made with the help of the detailed instructions and pictures provided.

Ability Range:Easy

Materials: Lumber, Fasteners

Needed Equipment:Tools: Hammer, Saw, Drill

2. Woodworking Session Morris Chair

The Morris Chair Used in Woodworking Session uses minimal materials and is simple to construct. The chair is soft and stable without the use of high-density foam or upholstery. Spending additional time on contouring and sanding can yield spectacular outcomes.

Talent Degree: Easy

Materials: Wood, Nails

Needed Equipment: Drill, Handsaw, and Screwdriver

3. Design Confidential Morris Chair

The Design Confidential Morris Chair is a challenging but not overly time-consuming DIY project. Unlike the Morris chair, this one does not recline, but it does share that model’s high arms and timeless design.

Ability Range: Moderate

Materials: Wood, Metal Fasteners, and PVA

Needed Equipment: Power tools, hand tools, and sanding blocks

4. My Outdoor Plans Morris Chair

The My Outdoor Activities The Morris Chair is a simple DIY project that can be completed in a couple of hours with minimal expertise and equipment. There are a few angles that need to be cut, but other than that, the build is simple.

Ability Range: Moderate

Materials: Wood, Bolts, and Nuts Wood filler, Wood dye

Needed Equipment: Tools: Drill, Handsaw, and Screwdriver

5. DIY Projects Morris Chair

Homemade Efforts The Morris Chair is a classic design that requires no cushions or upholstery to sit comfortably. Although the instructions aren’t as straightforward as those for other chairs, this one can be built in a day or two with some perseverance.

Ability Range: Moderate

Materials: Nails, wood glue, and lumber

Supplies Required: Toolkit: Hammer, Handsaw, Drill

6. Michael Gaspari Morris Chair

The Michael Gaspari Morris Chair is expertly crafted and is sure to impress even the most discerning of woodworkers. This project is definitely in the advanced category due to the use of table saws and the need to make several angled cuts, but if you have the skills, you can make one of the more delightful chairs on this list.

Competency Level Advanced

Materials: Lumber, wood adhesive

Needed Equipment: Tools: Hammer, Saw, Drill, and Sander

7. Mtabernig Moris Chair

Another high-tech option is the Mtabernig Morris Chair. In a four-part YouTube video series, this author demonstrates how to construct this chair. You’ll get a high-quality chair after reading this, as it details every step of the process.

Talent Degree: Advanced

Materials: Stain, Wood Glue, Wood Screws, and Lumber

Needed Equipment: Toolkit: Table saw, Drill, Ruler, Clamps

8. Wood Wrecker Morris Chair

The Wood Wrecker Morris Chair is an innovative design that produces a sturdy, high-end product. If you have access to tools like routers and a table saw, this project is well worth the effort. The directions explain everything in depth.

Ability Range: Advanced

Materials: Wood, Plywood, Stain, and Polyurethane Foam

Needed Equipment: Planer, Belt Sander, and Table Saw

9. DCW Woodworks Morris Chair

The Morris Chair by DCW Woodworks is a technological marvel that yields a chair that is both comfortable and sturdy. Although sophisticated tools like a router and a table saw will be required, the instructions are clear and straightforward.

Ability Range: Advanced

Materials: Supplies: Wood, Glue, and Gritted Paper

Needed Equipment: Power tools: table saw, sander, hammer, and router

Why reclining Morris armchair proved a £7600 Victorian seat of power

10. Woodworkers Journal Morris Chair

The Morris Chair from Woodworker’s Journal is an advanced project that teaches novel skills like wood bending. This complex task can be accomplished with the help of the detailed instructions provided, but additional equipment, such as a router, is needed.

Ability Range: Advanced

Materials: Materials: Wood, Wood Screws, Wood Glue, and High-Density Foam

Supplies Required: Tools: Hammer, Saw, Drill


Because of their elaborate designs and challenging construction processes, “building a Morris chair” may be on the “bucket list” of many modern woodworkers. You won’t ever have to ask someone else, “What is a morris chair?” again now that you know the answer yourself.