Clas­sic wing­back chair re­mains a seat­ing fa­vorite

Northwest Arkansas Democrat-Gazette - - STYLE - When picking MARY CAROL GARRITY

If you have ever lived in an old, drafty house, you to­tally get why the world needs wing­back chairs. Not only do they wrap their arms around you and keep you snug­gly warm, they are so stun­ning that they el­e­vate the style of any room they grace. For me, they are a must-have, a clas­sic I will al­ways want in my home.

Wing­back chairs smashed onto the dec­o­rat­ing scene in England way back in the 1600s. These new-fan­gled easy chairs in­cluded “wings” that were af­fixed to the back of the chair, of­ten reach­ing down to the chair’s arm. They were a hearth­side chair whose pur­pose was to pro­tect the in­hab­i­tant’s back from the room’s cold drafts while also hold­ing in the heat from the roar­ing fire. Early mod­els were all wood, but soon peo­ple wanted some­thing a bit cushier to set­tle down into, so they evolved into the padded, up­hol­stered chairs we know to­day.

Through the years, the wing­back has changed with the times. Cre­ative de­sign­ers have rein­vented this clas­sic over and over, al­ter­ing the size and style of the arm, wings and back.

Here is how I like to use them in my home:


You just can’t im­prove on per­fec­tion. There’s a rea­son the wing­back has been flank­ing hearths for hun­dreds of years. It can’t be beaten when it comes to mak­ing a space feel warm and cozy. When we de­sign liv­ing ar­eas in homes with tall ceil­ings and open spa­ces, we like to in­clude a pair of wing­backs in front of the fireplace be­cause their height and weight draw the space to­gether.

Even though the wing­back sil­hou­ette is hun­dreds of years old, to­day’s styles are fresh and new. The wings are less con­fin­ing, the arms less re­stric­tive, the fab­rics more var­ied.


For a din­ing space that knocks it out of the park, use a pair of wing­back chairs as the host and host­ess seats. This is one of our fa­vorite ways to add drama to a din­ing area. Want to ex­per­i­ment with some fun col­ors and bolder pat­terns? This is the per­fect spot be­cause you are cov­er­ing smaller pieces of fur­ni­ture (com­pared with a sofa) in a col­lec­tion of more neu­tral pieces — a wood ta­ble and chairs.

When picking wing­back chairs for your din­ing set, make sure the chair is high enough so one is com­fort­able when seated, but not so high one can’t push the chair in with­out bump­ing one’s legs. Also, pay at­ten­tion to the height of the arms. You don’t want arms so large and con­fin­ing that it is dif­fi­cult to get out of the chair eas­ily. If you are wor­ried about stains, con­sider your up­hol­stery care­fully. Leather is safest, as are fab­rics made for out­door use.


Wing­back chairs can give grandeur to just about any spot in your home. Place a pair on each side of a large win­dow. Or tuck one into an empty cor­ner to cre­ate a cozy read­ing nook. The tall backs make them ex­cel­lent for turn­ing a bor­ing spot into a state­ment.


Talk about your power chair! Raise the bar for your home of­fice by swap­ping out a util­i­tar­ian desk chair for a wing­back. While a clas­sic wing­back can’t be beaten in a tra­di­tional of­fice, don’t dis­count the style if your of­fice is more con­tem­po­rary. You’ll find lots of wing­backs to choose from that have min­i­mal­ist lines, fresh fab­rics and sleek legs.


wing­back chairs for a din­ing set, make sure the chair is high enough so one is com­fort­able when seated, but not so high that one can’t push the chair in with­out bump­ing one’s legs.

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