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Are Stressless Recliners & Reclining Sofas Worth the Cost?

By Jeff Frank

I have been deeply involved with new product design & upholstered furniture manufacturing over the past 30 years.

Previously, I purchased over $100 million of furniture as a buyer for a major furniture retail chain in the 1970s & 1980s.

Please send me your comments & questions. I will respond promptly.

Ekornes Stressless recliners and reclining sofas are among the best in the world for both quality & comfort.

I am writing this Ekornes Stressless recliner and reclining sofa review while sitting on a Stressless leather recliner purchased in the 1990s.

It still looks & feels like new.

It is the most comfortable chair I have ever owned.

Ekornes is a Norwegian furniture brand, built in the USA.

Ekornes was founded in Norway in 1934. The Stressless reclining furniture brand was introduced in 1971.

Most Stressless sofas sold in the U.S. are built in the company’s 200,000 sq. ft. Morganton, North Carolina factory.

Stressless high back Wave reclining sofa
Stressless high back Wave reclining sofa
Stressless offers both motorized & manual recliners & reclining sofas.

Both manual and power models provide extremely comfortable, highly durable ergonomic seating.

Power mechanisms are growing in popularity, but the Stressless manual mechanisms are something special. 

Shifting positions is effortless (even easier than pressing a button.)

The seat automatically conforms to your body, adjusting to whichever position is most comfortable for you.

No need to worry about power outages or motor breakdowns.

Manual styles can save hundreds of dollars compared with powered versions.

Stressless recliners are amazingly comfortable & built to last a very long time.

This is Top of the Line furniture, designed to last 20 years and more.

Inner frames are built with steel. Exposed frame parts are fabricated using 32 layers of steam-bent beech plywood.

This is an expensive way to build a frame, but it is beautiful and extremely durable.

Cushions are constructed with contoured high-pressure molded foam.

Contoured molded foam is too expensive for most residential seating. It’s found in automotive and high-use commercial seating.

Those applications require better-quality cushions that keep their shape and firmness far longer.

Advantages of contoured molded foam (over conventional polyurethane foam) include:

Higher resilience (ability to bounce back after use) and long-term durability.

Sustained comfort during long periods of sitting.

Does not lose its shape or firmness.

Stressless specializes in leather reclining furniture.

You don’t need to worry about “bonded leathers,” “leather match” or other faux leather alternatives. This is the real stuff!

Several different leather grades are available. High-performance fabrics are also offered.

The top leather grade is superb but can add several hundred (or thousand) dollars to the price of your Stressless furniture.

The lowest cost base-grade leathers are excellent quality and will last 20+ years.

The base grade leather on my personal Stressless chair still looks great and feels soft after more than 20 years.

Free leather upgrades are occasionally offered if you shop around.

Stressless reclining chair
Stressless Reclining Magic Chair
The Stressless reclining chair design is an amazing technological achievement.

Stressless reclining chairs can rock, swivel 360 degrees, and provide lumbar and head support. Some open all the way back into a sleeping position.

Those features aren’t special. Other recliners can also do those things.

The difference is that “other” recliners are prone to mechanical failures. Cushions wear out. Fabrics and fake “leather” fall apart.

Reclining furniture is the source of more consumer complaints than any other single furniture category.

Stressless recliners are engineered to last a lifetime.

Cushions still feel brand new after 20 years.

All the delicate mechanical parts have been replaced with a “simple” (but not cheap or easy to duplicate) mechanical system.

The reclining mechanism works effortlessly. It is ingeniously designed to function flawlessly without wearing out or breaking down.

Top-quality leather (including the base grade) will also last 20 years and more.

Watch how a Stressless chair is made.

Of course, not all Stressless furniture will make it through 20 years without needing some part replaced.

When repairs are needed, the seating can be disassembled, and the damaged part replaced.

That is not the case for many lower-quality recliner brands.

Peeling bonded leather, worn-out seat cushions or other common problems can be expensive to repair.

These may cost almost as much as a new piece.

Stressless also features Home theater seating, optional ottomans & tables.

One unusual accessory is the “elevator ring.” This is designed to increase the seat height for Stressless recliners with round bases.

Modern style European seating is usually a few inches lower than American seating.

The elevator ring increases the seat height to make the furniture feel more “American.”

Shopping for Stressless recliners & reclining sofas can be tricky.

There is more than one Stressless website and they feature different products. You cannot purchase directly from the manufacturer.

Some models and leathers may be restricted and not available to all Stressless retailers.

Prices can vary widely from store to store based on the model, options, and leather grade.

Reclining chair & ottoman prices range from $1800 to $5000+.

Reclining sofas range from $5000 to $10,000+.

Optional upgraded leathers can add several hundred (or thousand) dollars to a sofa’s price.

Individual retailers may offer limited-time special pricing on specific models.

There is more than one Stressless website and they feature different products. You cannot purchase directly from the manufacturer.

Some models may be restricted and not available to all Stressless retailers.

Does Stressless ever go on Sale? 
How can I find Stressless Discounts or Sale Prices?

The InsidersGuideToFurniture.com blog may be able to help.

Sometimes we have access to discounts that are not available to the general public.

If you are seriously interested in purchasing Ekornes Stressless furniture, contact me.

Use the comment section below. I respond promptly.

Check out my blog article, Who are the Best American Reclining Sofa & Sectional Brands?     18 different brands are reviewed & rated.

Stressless E-300 7 seat sectional shown in Royalin Tiger Eye leather

Stressless reclining furniture is incredibly comfortable and well-built. But it is expensive.

Important Stressless Update 10-18-2022

I have been noticing that there seem to be far more complaints about Stressless over the past few years.

I had attributed many of these complaints to temporary problems resulting from the company’s Morganton, North Carolina factory expansion from 100,000 to 200,000 sq. ft.

The expansion was completed in September 2022.

It now appears as though there may be another factor in play here.

In 2018. Ekornes, the parent company of Stressless, was sold to the Chinese Group Qumei.

Stressless accounts for 70% of Ekornes’ total sales.

This acquisition has not been reported in U.S. furniture trade publications, but there is an article published in Hong Kong, dated 10-18-2022, detailing serious problems with the merger.

The merger is being described as “the snake that swallowed the elephant.”

Apparently, Qumei has suffered serious financial losses since the merger.

Ekornes sales and profits have dropped since the merger took place.

This has placed additional stress on top of the heavy debt Qumei took on to acquire Ekornes.

On top of that, the Chinese economy and real estate development has been weak.

Although U.S. sales are growing strongly, European sales (an even larger market) have declined.

As a result, overall sales have not increased since Ekornes was acquired in 2018.

Qumei’s brand philosophy and marketing strategy is completely different than what succeeded for Ekornes over its 80 year history.

The Ekornes brand philosophy and marketing strategy was slow and stable growth, generating high profit margins and long-term dividends.

New products were introduced gradually, allowing them to be perfected before being introduced to the marketplace.

Qumei’s stated objective has been to rapidly increase Ekornes (and Stressless) sales.

To achieve this goal, the company has been rapidly introducing new products.

The majority of these new products are motorized reclining pieces.

In the entire furniture industry, the motorized reclining furniture category has the highest rate of problems and complaints.

This rapid expansion of product lines, especially into motorized seating, is apparently creating quality problems for a brand that had carefully cultivated an 80 year reputation for excellence..

Check out these recent TrustPilot reviewsfor a sample of what this means.

Overall, my feeling is that the older manual style Stressless pieces are probably still being made at a top quality level.

I would stay away from their newer styles, especially those with motorized mechanisms.

If Stressless is out of your price range, check out Fjords.

Fjords is also a Norwegian company. Its styling and functionality are similar to Stressless at a lower price.

Fjords reclining furniture is sold nationwide.

I have not personally tried out any of the Fjords products, but they seem to have an excellent reputation.

Know someone who might be interested in this post? Please like and share this post with them. If you have questions or comments please leave them below.

6 thoughts on “Are Stressless Recliners & Reclining Sofas Worth the Cost?”

  1. I am interested in purchasing a Stressless recliner in the Detroit area. Can you guide me to a dealer — and discount?
    Thank you very much!

    • Here is a link to Stressless dealerships in Michigan.

      Discounts for Stressless are constantly changing.

      One of the best places to find a discount is Furnitureland South.

      Furnitureland South is the world’s largest furniture store. It has 1.3 million sq. ft. of showroom space and is one of the biggest Stressless dealerships in the U.S.
      The store is located 15 minutes from my home in High Point, NC.

      I have a special arrangement with Furnitureland South.
      They have assigned one of their best and most experienced design consultants to personally assist my blog readers.

      Jason Campbell can provide complete design services and also special discount pricing if you let him know I referred you.
      Jason’s contact information is:

      Jason Campbell, Design Consultant
      Mobile: 336.324.7678 | Phone: 336.822.3243

      • Thank you for the insightful review. Your site was the first one that mentioned the acquisition by a Chinese company. We tried several of the sofas in showrooms and really love the Emily power recliner and the ergonomic fit and firmer cushions but were concerned about the reliability of the motors. Several salespeople said the motors seemed more reliable than the glide system. The motorized sofas have been out for less than 3 years but the reps told me that the customer service has been good. This seems different than the trust pilot reviews but I am also talking to brick and mortar furniture stores who have long relationships with Stressless.

        Any updates with this? Unfortunately, I feel very conflicted and not trusting of the change in ownership.

      • Salespeople recommend furniture based on how it looks, feels, and functions in the showroom when it’s brand new.
        Many of these salespeople won’t be working in furniture stores for more than a few years. They have very little concern (or knowledge) about how the furniture will perform 5 years in the future.
        Power recliners are easier to sell. They have all sorts of wonderful features that salespeople can point out in the showroom.

        Before working predominantly with design and manufacturing, I spent 12 years in retail, working first as a salesperson, then a sales manager and 8 years as a buyer for a major retail chain. So I understand the salesperson’s perspective and priorities.

        Their short-term perspective is the reason why furniture salespeople can sell bonded leather to millions of customers.

        Many are unaware that bonded leather is highly likely to fall apart within just a few years. Those who do know don’t care. They get paid for making the sale. Their pay is not deducted when the bonded leather recliner can no longer be used. In fact, it is a benefit because the customer returns to buy another recliner sooner than they would if the fabric did not fall apart.

        My reviews are more concerned with long term durability and value. At the last High Point International Home Furnishings Market in October 2022, I visited the showrooms of most of the high end reclining furniture manufacturers, including Stressless and several brands that are even more expensive. At each showroom I asked sales managers and company executives if they thought their power reclining furniture will still be functioning 10 years after purchase.

        None thought their furniture would last that long. I asked whether they thought it would last 5 years. Only two told me they thought it should last at least 5 years. In some cases, these brands sold leather reclining sectionals priced over $15,000.

        So, from my long-term perspective, a Stressless power recliner could end up costing almost $1000 per year. That is not a good value, considering that the same brand makes less expensive (and very comfortable) manual recliners that last 20 or 30 years.

  2. I have had 2 back surgeries on my right back and I have now herniated 2 discs on my left side. Additionally I have terrible right side neck pain which affect my right arm and hand mobility. I have been on SSDI for 14 years and feel I have no life but I’m on SSDI limited Fixed Income. I tried a Fjords swivel recliner where feet come out from under and provided neck support. However they we close to $3,000! I loved look as I have very small LR and lazy boys are too huge. Do stressless come with button technology where feet ( ottoman) come out from underneath with very nice quality and won’t overpower the room? How different is chair with separate ottoman? Are stressless less expensive? Does Medicare help at all? I need it asap as I really am just trapped alone all day in my upstairs bedroom. Any help you can offer on Brands/key functionalities/ type of fabric/ reclining with leg foot support and neck with swivel would be a god send. Unfortunately funds are limited. THANK YOU so much for any help!!! Jody Isselbacher 28 Nantucket Rd Newton MA 02461
    Home 617-332-9040
    Cell 617- 823-2369. I don’t drive and have no real family or friends and I don’t drive. PLEASE please help me. God bless Jody

    • I cannot make recommendations on furniture suitable for specific medical conditions.

      Stressless is more expensive than Fjords.

      Fjords is a good value for high quality swivel chairs, but there are less expensive brands made in Asia.

      Flash Furniture
      HomCom (Amazon)

      One potential problem with this type of furniture is that the seat heights tend to be lower (15″ – 17″) than standard size American style seating (18″ – 20″.)
      Lower seat heights are more difficult to get in and out of than those with higher seat heights.

      You may prefer a lift chair. Check out:
      Lift chairs on Amazon (prices ranging from $400 – $800.)
      Southern Mobility & Medical Seating
      Lift chairs (and swivel chairs) may require some assembly when they arrive.

      The only furniture that Medicare may be able to help out on is adding Lift mechanisms to reclining chairs.
      This is a mechanism that allows the seat to lift or lower and tilt forwards to help people who have difficulty sitting or rising from chairs.
      Medicare will not pay for an entire lift chair, only an added mechanism.
      Check out Will Medicare Pay for a Lift Chair in 2022?

      You may also want to check out:
      Arms chairs for elderly
      Healthy Back Store
      Zero gravity chairs (This is a category of chair that is supposed to be good for backs. They tend to be more expensive (most are $3000+.)


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