Over at the Vintage Modern shop, we are all about wingback chairs. I have a velvet, blush-colored wingback in my own living room.
With an open concept living room and dining room, the tall wingback shape provides a nice visual break between the two rooms. I also love the chair because it’s super cozy and adds some serious vintage charm to the living room.
So what makes a wingback chair so cozy and charming? The first versions appeared in 17th century England and were known as the wingback or the fireside chair. The chair was designed to be placed in front of a fireplace with the tall, winged shape protecting a person’s head and torso from drafts, as well as trapping the heat from the fireplace.
These wingback chairs were constructed from wood and little, if any padding or upholstery. Many of the chairs also featured cabriole legs, which is a leg that is shaped with two curves. The upper curve of the cabriolet leg curves outward, and the lower curve of the leg curves inward.
By the start of the 18th century, the wingback became cozier with the use of velvet and embroidered upholstery fabric, as well as being stuffed with padding like horsehair. It was also during this time that the wing chair began appearing in American homes.
American wing chairs were usually seen in the bedroom and were associated with elderly people. The chairs had a firm seat and provided draft protection, so the design provided the needed support for the elderly. It was this association that earned wing chairs the moniker of grandpa chairs.
In 1958, Arne Jacobsen designed the Egg chair, a mid-century modern interpretation of the wingback which featured no straight lines, only curves. The chair was designed specifically for the Royal Hotel in Copenhagen, Denmark, and its unique, enclosed shape gave anyone sitting in the chair, a bit of privacy in an otherwise public space. The Egg chair is now considered an iconic example of Danish modern style.
The wingback chair has come a long way from being the so-called grandpa chair. Reinterpreted versions are available at Ikea, CB2 and many other modern furniture stores in a wide variety of shapes, sizes, patterns and fabrics.
That makes the wingback a versatile chair that fits well with many different home design styles. A wingback can be more mid-century modern like the Egg chair, traditional, farmhouse, Hollywood Regency glam or have a more lived-in, bohemian look.
After looking for another chair like mine for the shop, I finally found a vintage velvet wingback chair in a darker blush. This chair also has a subtle pink and blue dot pattern, which makes it a slightly more playful version of my chair. And for some added visual interest, I decided to paint the curvy, cabriolet legs with a light grey chalk paint.
The result is that the Vintage Dark Blush Velvet Wingback Chair feels a little bit glam, a little bit boho chic and certainly, a little bit traditional. However you decide to style it, it has all of the cozy charm of wing chair, which means it will look equally at home in front of a fireplace, a dining table or in an office.