How Far Does a Recliner Chair Need to Be From the Wall?

A recliner is any type of chair that is mechanically operated to change positions from an upright seated to a reclined position. This type of chair comes in many styles, shapes and sizes and each manufacturer has a slightly different mechanism for operating the chair. Some chairs shift position when the person sitting on the chair shifts his weight, other chairs use a lever or remote control to operate the mechanism. Placing this type of chair in a room requires some planning and measuring.

A fully reclined chair may take up a lot more space than when it is upright.


Determine the operation features of the chair. Some recliners include features such as massage or heat that operate through remote control panels that are usually built-into the arm of the chair. Your chair may require an outlet plug within a few feet of the chair and this can influence where and how you position the chair in the room. Plug in your chair to make sure it operates correctly. It is likely that this type of chair is heavy because of the motor so you will not want to move the chair too often.


Your recliner often takes up less physical space when it is upright than when it is reclined. To determine the functional size of the chair, place the chair parallel to the wall. Position the back legs 3 feet from the wall. Recline the chair to its maximum-open position. Measure the distance from the head rest to the wall and subtract this measurement from 3 feet. This is the actual minimum distance the chair can sit from the wall. But, you don't want to use this measurement or the chair will touch the wall.

Space Planning

Draw a floor plan of the room where you want to position the recliner. Use 1/4-inch graph paper. Draw in all of the walls, door swings, windows, fireplaces, recesses, niches or other features. Note the location of all outlets. Based on how your chair operates, identify the possible locations of the chair. Draw a scale box at each location. The recliner should not determine the furniture layout because it is not the primary focus of the room. Layout your furniture toward your focal point first and note which locations remain for the recliner. Choose the best location based on the floor plan.

Function and Design

Place the recliner on furniture moving pads so that you can easily slide the recliner across the floor. Position the furniture in the room based on your space planning. Find the location you have selected for the recliner and position it at the location. Measure from the back of the legs to the closest object or wall. Use the measurement from Section 2 plus how many inches you want behind the chair. If the chair is next to a wall this should be at least 6 inches. If there are draperies behind the chair you need up to 12 inches. These adjustments may push the chair forward into the room. Try your optional positions to see which is the best choice for your decor.