One request that we have been getting quite a bit at BTOD.com is recommendations for chairs for short or petite people. It can be difficult to find small chairs. Manufacturer specs can often be tough to find, and even when you can, the choices are pretty limited.
Below is a list of five chairs that I feel are nice options if you need an office chair for a short or petite person. I am defining short as 5’ 6” and under. These chairs all feature dimensions that are smaller than standard office chairs.
I also recommend checking out my seven things to consider when shopping for these chairs; you can find them right after the final chair in the list. This information will help you on your quest to find a new office chair. It also helps to explain why I chose the chairs featured in this list.
Need help? Get our Free Office Chair Buying Guide!
Full Disclaimer: We are an office furniture dealer and sell some of the products we review. To learn more about the products we sell, our review process and why you can trust us, please visit: Why we’re different. Who is BTOD.com and The Learning Center?
Best Office Chairs for Petite People in 2020
- Steelcase Leap v2
- Neutral Posture XSM
- Herman Miller Aeron Size A
- BTOD Petite
- OM Seating Paramount Petite
- 7 Things to Consider With Small Office Chairs
- Bottom Line
1. Steelcase Leap v2
Starting Price: $842.00
We’ve found that the Steelcase Leap v2 chair is a contender for almost any “best of” list that we create, but I was still a bit surprised when I found that the Leap v2 is also a great option for short and petite people. You do want to make sure to upgrade to the four-way adjustable arms to ensure that you can take advantage of the huge adjustment range the Leap v2 arms offer.
The Leap v2 has a low minimum seat height of 15.5 inches and the seat depth adjustment allows for the seat depth to be as small as 15.7 inches. You also have a nice arm height range of 7 to 11 inches and a massive width adjustment range of 12.75 to 20 inches. Basically, you can make this chair really small, and that is one of the biggest reasons why this was my number one pick.
The next reason is that the Leap v2 has a ton of adjustability. This is one of the most adjustable chairs that you will find. It comes with a synchro-tilt mechanism, multiple locking positions, and two-way adjustable lumbar support. The lumbar height range is large, which is another bonus for short people. The lumbar goes almost all the way to the bottom of the backrest.
On top of the nice sizing specs and the huge amount of adjustability, the Leap v2 features a great build quality and has one of the best warranties in the industry. You are guaranteed to have one of the best chairs in the industry for a minimum of twelve years.
2. Neutral Posture XSM
Starting Price: $713.40
My second pick is the XSM by Neutral Posture. Neutral Posture is a Texas-based company that specializes in high-end ergonomic seating. The XSM is made in Texas and features a high-end build. The chair is also backed by a solid ten-year warranty.
The XSM does a really good job of meeting the size requirements for short and petite people. It has a minimum seat height of 15.75 inches and the seat depth can be as small as 15.5 inches because of its large seat depth adjustment range. Like the Leap v2, the arms are also well suited for petite people. They have a minimum height of 7 inches and can go as narrow as 13.5 inches.
One thing that really sets the XSM apart from most chairs is the thickly padded seat. It features 4 inches of high-end molded foam. This is going to offer a soft, cushy sitting experience. There are a lot of chairs, like the Leap v2 and Aeron (next on the list), which feature a firmer sit. The XSM can be a nice option for people who prefer a soft, thickly padded seat.
The XSM is also highly adjustable, even more so than our number one pick. This is due to the multi-function mechanism and five-way arms. You get seat angle adjustment with forward seat tilt. The back angle and back height are adjustable. You can also control the tension of the recline and the five-way arms are the most adjustable on this list.
The XSM has a number of add-ons that you can choose to customize your chair. Inflatable lumbar support, three different back options, and a headrest specifically made for petite people are a few of the options available on the XSM.
3. Herman Miller Aeron size A
Starting Price: $995.00
The third chair on our list is the Aeron size A. The size A is the smallest version of the Aeron, so it is best suited for short and petite people. This is a very well-built chair with a really clean design. It is made in the USA and functions smoothly. It is also backed by an industry-leading, twelve-year warranty.
The Aeron has the lowest minimum seat height range on this list at 14.75 inches. The 16-inch seat depth is also smaller than standard office chairs. Unfortunately, the Aeron does not have seat depth adjustment. There are several upgrades that you can choose from on the Aeron when it comes to functionality. I would recommend almost all of them. The adjustable lumbar support is great to give you that extra lower back support for long hours. The tilt limiter upgrade will allow you to lock the chair in three different positions, while also giving you forward seat tilt.
The final upgrade I would recommend is the fully adjustable arms. This will give you a nice 7 to 11.5-inch arm height adjustment range. The arms are set 16 inches apart, so they are narrower than most standard office chairs. While the arms do not have width adjustment, they do pivot inward quite a bit, which helps to make them narrower.
The Aeron is the only mesh office chair on our list, so this will be the best option for those of you who want a petite mesh chair. It features some of the nicest mesh we have had a chance to see. It offers good support, breathability, and comfort.
The final thing that really sets the Aeron apart from the rest of the chairs on this list is its recline function. The Aeron has one of the smoothest recline motions we have had a chance to use. It has a nice rocking motion and it feels really natural and easy to rock back and forth in the chair.
4. BTOD Petite Series
Starting Price: $362.99
The fourth chair on our list is the BTOD Petite. This is one of the lower priced options featured on our list but does a nice job of fitting small people. It is made in Taiwan and comes with a limited lifetime warranty. You get lifetime coverage on the chair frame and parts, with five years of coverage on the foam and fabric.
The Petite gives you a lot of customization for such a low price point. Choose from different mechanisms, different arms, various back options, and more. There aren’t too many chairs that are specifically designed for petite people that can be this highly customized.
The chair features a thick, 4-inch padded seat, which offers a soft and plush sitting experience. The adjustments also help to add to your comfort. With so many adjustment options, you can choose to make the chair as adjustable as you’d like. The price will increase as you add adjustments, but you can decide what is important to you and what isn’t.
With a standard two-way arm set-up, you get an arm height adjustment range of 5 to 7.5 inches. This is among the smallest available. They also offer a width range of 16 to 20 inches. The seat height will go as low as 15.5 inches and the seat depth is 16 inches, but can be adjusted when purchased with the seat slider add-on.
Another thing to consider with this series of chairs is that there is an even smaller option, called the BTOD Bantam. The Bantam features a smaller seat, back and seat height range if you need something smaller than the BTOD Petite.
5. OM Paramount Petite
Starting Price: $328.99
The final chair on our list is the Paramount Petite from Office Master. This chair has the lowest starting price on our list, but it still offers good value. The chair is made from parts coming out of China and Taiwan. It is then built and assembled in the U.S. by Office Master. It comes with a seven-year warranty with five years of coverage on the foam and fabric.
The Paramount Petite has some of the smallest dimensions found on our list. The seat goes as low as 15.5 inches, and the arms go as low as 5.25 inches. The arms can get as narrow as 13.25 inches and the seat depth can be as small as 16 inches. Overall, this chair is comparable in size to the top two chairs on our list, and it is available for a fraction of the price.
Even though it comes in at a low price point, it is still packed with adjustments. It comes with a center tilting ability with tension control. It has seat depth adjustment, seat angle adjustment, and forward seat tilt. It has an adjustable backrest angle and adjustable back height. Add the two-way arms and it will be tough to find a more adjustable chair for this price point.
7 Things to Consider When Looking For Small Office Chairs
1. Seat Height
The first thing to think about is the seat height of your office chair. You want to be able to have your knees at 90 degrees, with your feet flat on the floor. Most office chairs will have a seat height range of around 17 to 22 inches. This is going to be too tall for people who are five feet six inches and under.
You will need to find a chair with a minimum seat height of 16 inches if you are five-foot-six and 15 inches if you are five-foot-two. If you are shorter than five-foot-two, then you will want to find a chair that gets as low as 14 inches if you plan to have your feet flat on the floor.
2. Adding a Footrest
One super valuable tool for your workstation can be a footrest. Adding a footrest allows you to bring the floor up to your chair, instead of forcing your chair to go down to the floor. By doing this, you will make it much easier to achieve that 90-degree knee angle, while also opening the door to chairs with higher minimum seat height ranges. Most of the people in our office use a footrest, including myself.
3. Desk Height
Your desk height is another really important factor. You want your typing height to be about 8 inches above your seat height. If you are going to use a chair at 16 inches, then your desk needs to be able to go as low as 24 inches to accommodate an ergonomic position. Standard desk height is 30 inches, so there is quite a big difference there.
There are a few ways to help you accomplish this. The first is to go with the footrest discussed above. This can close the gap by a few inches by bringing your chair height closer to a standard height desk. The second is to get a height-adjustable desk that can lower to a position that is below the standard desk height. The final option is to add something to lower your keyboard, like a keyboard drawer or keyboard tray.
4. Seat Depth
The next thing to consider is seat depth. You want to be able to position the front of the seat to within 1 to 2 inches from the back of your knees. Most standard office chairs will have seats that are around 17 to 18 inches deep. This will be too large for short people.
If you are five-foot-six or under, you want to find chairs with minimum seat depths of 16 inches or less. Chairs with an adjustable seat depth range as low as 15 inches will be the best options to go with for this category.
5. Arm Width
The armrests will be another important factor to consider. You want to be able to hang your arms naturally at your sides and then place your elbows at a 90-degree angle. You do not want to have to angle your arms outward to reach the armrests. This can put unnecessary strain on your shoulders and neck.
Standard office chair arms will typically be about 17 to 18 inches apart. If you are under five feet six inches, you will want to look for arms that have a minimum width of 16 inches or less. For those of you in the five feet and under range, then arms as narrow as 13 inches will probably be what you want to look for.
6. Arm Height
Height is the second thing to look at when it comes to the armrests. You really want to make sure that the arms on the chair you want to buy have a range that will work for you. People that are under five feet six inches will want to have their arms about 9 inches above their seat to be able to achieve that 90-degree elbow angle. People who are five feet tall or under will want a minimum arm height of 7 inches or less.
Be careful when buying chairs with headrests if you are a short or petite person. We have found that headrests will often be in an awkward position for short people. Many headrests are designed to fit into the curve of your neck. If you are too short to use them properly, then the headrest just ends up pushing the back of your head forward.
The same thing can happen on chairs with more standard headrests. If you are too short to reach the intended headrest, then the chair will not be comfortable because it was not designed to fit you properly.
If you really want a headrest, then look for chairs that were specifically made for short people that also offer a headrest option. This should ensure that the headrest was designed for short people and will give you the best chance that it fits you properly.
The selection of office chairs for petite and short people can feel limited. There certainly isn’t going to be as many options as standard office chairs, but there are things that you can do to expand your selection. Things like a footrest and keyboard tray can be amazing tools. An electric height-adjustable desk can also be a game changer for a lot of people. These will make the seat height less of a problem.
If there isn’t a chair on this list that will work for your needs, then make sure to take our “7 Things to Consider” with you on your search. If you are armed with the knowledge of what to look for and what to avoid, you should be able to find the best chair for your needs.