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Wingback Chair Definition and History

Iconic Design: The Wingback Chair

The wingback chair is essentially a club chair with "wings" attached to the back that often extend to the arm rests. Though the flat and scroll wing styles are most typical, imaginatively ornate versions like bat-wing chairs and butterfly-wing chairs can also be found. Most designs are fully upholstered with wooden legs, but older versions tend to have an exposed wood frame as well. The colorful version pictured below demonstrates how this iconic design can be reinterpreted. Even vintage velvet upholstery feels fresh when paired with wooden legs painted in a color that coordinates with your favorite throw pillow. For a twist on wooden frame versions, try gilding the frame for a contemporary, aristocratic vibe.

Like many classic furniture pieces, the wingback chair's stylish design was born out of necessity. Created to trap heat and shield the top half of the body from drafts, the chairs were often positioned in front of a crackling fire. Aside from adding a sense of grandeur, these chairs offered a cocoon-like comfort. Today, they remain just as popular with or without the presence of a hearth.

Do you love this look? Learn how to make your own colorful chair at Martha Stewart!

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