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Not Your Grandma’s Rocking Chair: 5 Fresh Takes On The Classic Rocker

Rocking chairs are one of the great comfort chairs – a fixture from many of our childhoods, and often an heirloom piece passed down through families. But not all rocking chairs fit the iconic image of a mother rocking a baby or a granny knitting a sweater; rockers can come in a wide variety of different styles beyond the classic Kennedy rocker. Whether you’re looking for a rocking chair more suited to a contemporary space, or one with a more elaborate, antique feel, there’s probably one out there to suit your space – if you’re willing to look!

Mid-Century Modern

Rocker Arm Chair FMI2013-Lightblue from Fine Mod Imports
Rocker Arm Chair FMI2013-Lightblue from Fine Mod Imports

One of the next-most-common types of rocking chairs are the Eames RAR rockers. Made of molded polypropylene, this iconic mid-century modern chair is both elegant and ergonomic. The futuristic design is a far cry from the conventional slatted-back rocking chair, but the shape of the seat, back, and arms are designed for maximum comfort, while the rockers offer a smooth, even glide. These rockers are available in almost every color of the rainbow and are occasionally upholstered, and are a perfect way to get a smooth, relaxing rocking experience with a slightly more modern style.

Any Chair Can Be A Rocking Chair

Rocking Chair 661-C from PolArt
Rocking Chair 661-C from PolArt

If you’re surprised to see a classic Eames chair on rockers, don’t be: the truth is, almost any type of chair can be put on rockers, and many iconic designs have been. For example, if you lopped the rockers off this very baroque-styled chair, it wouldn’t look out of place in any formal dining room. What that means for you is that almost any accent chair you love, you can find a version that will give you the same style, plus the ability to sit back and rock.

Lower Back, Padded Seats

Solo Rocker Arm Chair FMI1010-Gray from Fine Mod Imports
Solo Rocker Arm Chair FMI1010-Gray from Fine Mod Imports

That said, some changes to the classic Kennedy rocker are less about looks and more about comfort. A lower back, sloped arms, and thick built-in cushions all combine to make this petite rocking chair a little more comfortable, enabling you to lean back in your rocker and settle in without the same straight, stiff back. The lower profile and padded cushions also make this rocking chair better suited for a typical accent chair, as it can blend in with a sectional set rather than really standing out as a wood accent chair.

Re-Imagined Rocking Chairs

Chloe Rocker Chair And Ottoman RC1028P from Whiteline Imports
Chloe Rocker Chair And Ottoman RC1028P from Whiteline Imports

On the other end of the spectrum are rocking chairs that have been completely re-imagined, abandoning the iconic wood bow-style rockers, usually for intricate modern metal ones – solid chrome or steel bars that loop around the sides of the chair to create the arms and rockers in a single solid piece. These ultra-modern rocking chairs bear only the most passing resemblance to their classic wood predecessors, but have a very sleek, minimalist contemporary style, and are often actually quite comfortable – designed with ergonomics and the smoothness of the glide in mind.

Elaborate Carved Wood Rocking Chairs

Mahogany Swan Rocking Chair PTM-9001-0149 from AFD
Mahogany Swan Rocking Chair PTM-9001-0149 from AFD

While many rocking chairs get a redesign to make them a better fit for a contemporary space, that isn’t always the case. In fact, it’s often quite the opposite – rocking chairs made with elaborate, antique-inspired wood carvings for a more old world feel. Rather than the bent wood or peg-and-hole construction of the earliest rocking chairs (which were invented in the early 18th century), these imagine older versions of the chair, with the chair and rockers built of ornately carved wood for a weighty piece with a beautiful historical feel.

Whether you’re looking for a striking accent piece or if you just really love a chair that rocks, a re-imagined rocking chair can be a great addition to your home – and it doesn’t necessarily have to look like your grandma’s!