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The way to Find Out What sort of Wingback Chair You’ve

Wingback chairs originated in the 1600s as a thermal layout intended to trap the heat from a roaring fire around the sitter when blocking cold drafts from different areas of the room. This functional program evolved into an upholstered and then comfortably padded version that finally sported graceful cabriole legs to complement those signature wings. If you have or want a wing chair, you can find out which age its layout comes out of, whether antique, modern or vintage.

The Genealogy of a Chair

An antique, confirmed or suspected, should be appraised by an expert to determine its value. Let that knowledge direct you in almost any restoration you do to this chair. The original materials along with a patina of age might be too important to update, even if it means treating the chair for a museum piece rather than a helpful addition to this parlor. Clear provenance establishes the era and bona fides of a real antique — when it has been in your family for decades, you could be able to document the chair’s life and times. Clues that can confirm your chair’s background include the kind of cabinetry function — the chair’s joinery, for instance; the style quirks such as the width of their wings or enclosed panels under the arms; the completing — traces of gilding, horsehair stuffing, parts of original silk upholstery beneath the “new” vintage velvet. Or, happily, your research may demonstrate that the chair isn’t museum quality and you’re free to reupholster it in zebra-striped linen without any regrets.

Long Live the Queen

European designed wing seats range from the austere all-wood oldest models to more elaborate court furniture with gilt wood, cariole legs, carved front panels and ornate, embroidered brocade or velvet upholstery. Queen Anne style is curved and feminine, with scrolled wood but easy lines. The seats inspired the classic appearance of a wingback that survived a trip across the Atlantic into the Colonies and influences traditional wing chair layout now. Try something different on your dining room — four Queen Anne wingback chairs gathered around a hardwood bottom table under a modern chandelier or pendant. Match the wood of the table into the chair frames — maple or cherry — and select a contemporary linen patterned fabric, a lime-and-white chevron or a tangerine-on-ivory abstract, for chair cocktail and table linens.

Take It Easy

American no-nonsense plain style straightened the legs of the wingback chair, while retaining the generous cushioned upholstery which make it so comfortable. Cherry, pear, elm and pine woods took the area of European walnut, walnut and imported mahogany. The fabric has been plainer and less sumptuous, with strong colours as popular as patterns, and the seats were stationed in the bedroom as frequently as the living room. Combine both Old and New World influences in a matched group of French linen grain-sacking upholstered wing chairs with whitewashed wood frames in the living room. Salvage a second-hand wing chair for the bedroom with rose, white and green chintz upholstery and shiny pastel green or pink enameled legs.

Egg It On

Great design is timeless, if barely recognizable in a number of its newer incarnations. But you can locate the bones — or even casing — of a wing chair in a Mid-Century Modern egg chair, covered in nubby fabric or smooth leather. The wrap-around chair on its alloy tripod of feet lets you slouch into it using the same leave and a good book as that classic wing chair you claimed to your own as a kid. Unabashed modernists may like the very high back of a squared-off wing chair with vestigial wings, very low straight arms, short squared white legs and tribal patterned upholstery. But there’s room for the masculine tufted worn leather wing chair in the library, using a matching footstool, brass-stud trim and also the surprise of old-fashioned paw feet.

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