Just Wing It

by Cara McBroom

The Wingback Chair:

When one imagines a wingback chair, (let’s be honest) we typically think of a tall, austere and formal-looking traditional chair with wings, possibly sitting in a men’s study or a castle, or that formal sitting room in your grandma’s house that you were never supposed to actually use!  I say, we are not giving this chair enough credit for the strides it has made since way back in the 17th century!

“Back in the day”, this chair was created to serve a distinct purpose.  The side wings and tall back helped protect a person from chilling drafts.  You could place a couple of wing chairs near a fireplace, and the wings would envelope the heat around you like a warm, cozy cloak…and if you so happen to fall asleep, the structure of the chair helped “prop” you up!  On the other side of the coin, the chair’s wings could also protect a lady’s delicate skin from an overly-hot fireplace.   It is highly common to see a pair of wing chairs flanking a fireplace in many floor plans.

The first wing chair was a rather stiff, straight-lined piece of furniture, that “cloistered the sitter in a kind of opulent coffin.”[1]  This shape changed in the late 1600’s when Charles II was crowned king of England, Scotland and Ireland. “When Charles II came to power, thereby ushering in the Restoration—a period freed from the Puritans’ censorious moral beliefs toward sex and self-indulgence—…the female form was once again adored and joyfully distorted.” [2]  Hence, the more curvaceous styles we are used to imagining when we think of a wing chair, such as the popular Queen Anne style.

Ham House Sleeping Chair (late 17th century)

Ham House Sleeping Chair (late 17th century)

Queen Anne Wingback Arm Chair (early 18th century)

Queen Anne Wingback Arm Chair (early 18th century)

[1] http://www.believermag.com/issues/200906/?read=article_jovanovic
[2] http://www.believermag.com/issues/200906/?read=article_jovanovic

By some, wing chairs tend to be viewed upon today in several different ways: One way is as a nostalgic, traditional, floral print-covered, reading chair you can see in your grandmother’s living room, with the cat curled up in it and a half-read newspaper over the arm. Norman Rockwell captured this best:

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In modern day, we also often see the wing chair used in television and movies, depicted as a chair used by powerful characters, usually men, like Donald Trump, Nooky Thompson and Scarface.  Even Dr. Evil has his very own exaggerated wing chair to rule the world in!

trump             Steve Bucchemiscarfacedr_evil

Wingback chairs, however, are so much more versatile than this!  With so many new shapes, sizes, and bold fabric applications, these chairs could find a place in any home, fireplace or not! In fact, they are not only “usable” these days, they are highly on trend!  Whether you are refurbishing a vintage frame by painting it a bright lacquer and covering it in a fun print, as shown below; or buying into a new, fresh modern shape, these chairs have become a must-have in almost every design!

Check out Some of these revamped wing chairs!

green&yellow        blue

This Ombre Chair by Andrea Mihalik, with Wild Chairy Studios, took an old world shape and modernized it with some whimsical charm.  I love how the back mimics a woman’s corset, which exaggerates a woman’s figure—giving a nod to what inspired curvilinear lines in the chair in the first place!

Here are some wing chairs that have innovative, modern shapes and lines:

modern5 modern4 modern3
modern2 Modern Wing

Here are some awesomely beautiful rooms that are sporting some amazingly inviting wing chairs!

black & White blue scene chair dramatic pink purple scene red scene room setting

sail boat fab scene yello banquette

Feeling inspired yet???  Here are some unique and beautiful wing chairs, below, to get you excited.  We, at Lovelace Interiors, can order any of these styles in a wide range of fabrics! Come on in, and instead of “winging it”, feel free to ask any of our designers for their opinion! We can help you coordinate the perfect design!

wing1 wing2 wing3 wing4wing5 wing6 wing7 wing8 wing9 wing10 wing11 wing12 wing13wing 14 wing15 wing16 wing17 wing18 wing19 wing20 wing21 wing22 wing23 wing24


From top left to bottom right: ( 1-4) Chairs by CR Laine; (5-11) Chairs by Century Furniture;  (12-15) Chairs by Lee Industries; (16-18) Chairs by Vanguard Furniture; (19-20) Chairs by Drexel Heritage; (21-22) Chairs by H.Studio; (23) Rene Chair by Design Legacy; (24) Kercher Chair by Bernhardt

Below is a pair of extremely comfortable wing chairs I recently used in a project!  They are covered in a colorful and striking ikat fabric that ties all the colors of the room together:

cara's job


Contact me if you want my help exploring your wing chair options, or if you need any interior design help!

cara's pictureCara McBroom
Licensed Interior Designer #ID5285

850-837-5563 work
850-830-8033 mobile


Lovelace Interiors

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Lovelace Interiors is the most widely-published and nationally-recognized interior design firm on the Emerald Coast of Florida. Home accessories and gifts, too! Bringing life and style to Emerald Coast home interiors, for 20 years... and counting!

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