The design features a seat with a reclining back and moderately high armrests, which give the chair an old-style appearance. The characteristic feature of a Morris chair is a hinged back, set between two un-upholstered arms, with the reclining angle adjusted through a row of pegs, holes or notches in each arm. The original Morris chair had dark stained woodwork, turned spindles and heavily decorated upholstery, in typical Victorian style.
The chair was widely copied after Morris' introduction, and is still manufactured. The appearance and style of upholstery is usually quite different to Morris', but the overall layout is constant. The best known examples are those first produced by Gustav Stickley and then widely copied afterwards. These are in the American Craftsman idiom, rather than English Arts & Crafts styles. Woodwork is lightly-finished and largely undecorated oak in rectangular sections. Upholstery comprises unframed cushions in brown leather, or green or brown fabric. As this style is by far the most common, the chair is often thought of as a Stickley design named in homage to Morris, rather than an original Morris piece. As with all Stickley, these chairs are keenly collected today and originals will fetch several thousands of dollars.
The chair is also a popular subject with amateur furnituremakers, particularly in the USA.