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What’s My Chair Back Style?

There are so many chair styles; it may be confusing.  While many chair bases may seem similar, the chair back style is a defining feature and has been for centuries.  This chair style guide can help you identify your piece for purchase, restoration, and appraisal. These are some of the most common types of chair backs you will find in both antique and modern chairs.

waved slat ladderback chairWaved Slat/Ladderback

Dating back to the Middle Ages, this chair back style favors function over form. This chair features a narrow width, so the slat adds the only decorative element to the chair.




Bannister stick back chairBanister or Stick Backs

Banister/stick chairs have various types of turned posts, or spindles, that constitute the back of the chair.  These chair styles could be made more quickly and efficiently and rose in popularity with the increased use of chairs themselves.  The chair pictured has banister arms as well, as you can see.



Chippendale Chair BackChippendale

Perhaps the most famous style of antique furniture, Chippendale is named after British furniture maker Thomas Chippendale.  After publishing guides to construct furniture, his styles quickly grew in popularity.  His style These chairs draw from Rococo, Chinese and gothic design, and are usually made of mahogany.  The style is related to the Queen Anne style also; sometimes are made from walnut or maple.



hepplewhite chair backHepplewhite

This neoclassical type of chair back came from Hepplewhite, an English cabinet maker in the late 1700s.  He followed Chippendale and Hepplewhite style chairs are known for their delicate lines.




Rococo Chair BackRococo

The Rococo revival took place in the late 1800s and brought back everything elaborate and ornate from earlier European styles, such as Louis XIV style furniture.  Rococo styles incorporate elements like shells, flowers, and leaves.



Renaissance Revival ChairRenaissance Revival

This antique chair style was popular around 1850-1880 and used dark wood carvings including motifs with flowers, fruit, and other ornate designs.   The curule legs in this picture are reminiscent of Roman and Egyptian designs.




Identifying and Restoring Chairs

This guide will help you find and identify chair back styles in your antique and new furniture. These are just a few of the dozens of styles of chairs created from the 17th century to now. If you think you may own an authentic antique, Aaron’s Touch Up has the expertise to assist you in identifying your chairs and refinishing them for you. Some chair back styles are simple, while others are complex, but you can find beauty in all of them. Discover your chair back style and start the restoration and refinishing process with Aaron’s Touch Up.

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