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Shopping for Adirondack Chairs

A hefty outdoor seat with a laid-back posture and wide, flat arms, the Adirondack chair has a lot to recommend it. It generally stays where you put it, resists harsh weather and has arms that double as cocktail tables.

Most important, though, “it just screams summer,” said Ann Stillman O’Leary, an interior designer based in Lake Placid, N.Y., who has written books on Adirondack style.

The first Adirondack chair was designed in 1903 by Thomas Lee, in Westport, N.Y., Ms. O’Leary said, to address very specific requirements: “He was looking for a chair that was comfortable, didn’t need a lot of fluffing and could hold a drink.”

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Mr. Lee’s chair used solid slabs of wood, but countless manufacturers have since modified the design, most notably with wood slats that provide better drainage. “We now have fan-backs, shell-backs, wave-backs and round-backs,” Ms. O’Leary said.

Whichever style you choose, she added, “there’s no wrong place to put an Adirondack chair.”

  • What’s the best material for an Adirondack chair? Wood is a classic choice, Ms. O’Leary said, “but for my lifestyle right now, I’m doing high-density polyethylene,” which offers maintenance-free durability.

  • Do wood chairs need to be painted? Paint or stain isn’t essential, but it does increase longevity. Without it, wood — like teak, ipe and cedar — will weather over time.

  • How many Adirondack chairs do you need? Perhaps two facing a view or four around a firepit, Ms. O’Leary said. But remember that Adirondack chairs take up more space than most seats, she said, “because the backs of the legs stick out.”

Recycled high-density polyethylene chair with a folding mechanism

From $319 at Polywood: 855-935-5550 or

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Red cedar chair inspired by Gerrit Rietveld design

$275 (or $400 fully assembled) at Dan Benarcik:

Teak chair with stainless-steel fasteners

$599 at Teak & Table Outdoor: 912-661-4300 or

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Recycled high-density polyethylene chair inspired by Thomas Lee’s 1903 design

$895 at Loll Designs: 877-740-3387 or

Teak chair with angular design

$749 at Crate & Barrel: 800-967-6696 or

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