Modern & vintage variations on the ideal accent chair for any room. Part 2 – Neutral legs, long and short.
When I evaluate any chair I focus first on the legs. That’s the way I was taught to approach antiques, where furniture legs and feet are helpful in determining style. So when it came to organizing the 26 pieces in my slipper chair marathon, the legs became a more important distinguishing feature than silhouette or even height. Chairs in Part I of the marathon had turned legs; some with casters to enhance portability. This second, more contemporary group has somewhat neutral legs – square or round – which are smooth and of various heights. And all have tight upholstery — no pillows. With simpler legs and nothing to disguise the lines, the shape of the back and the choice of fabric color and pattern have greater impact. Additionally, the depth of the seat deck in relation to the legs can affect the visual weight. Even without arms, a chunky chair can look heavy and lower than it might be by measurement.
Like paint, the fabric pattern and color make a dramatic difference in a chair’s personality. One of my favorite ways to see that is to browse Target’s website. There, the same budget-wise Avington slipper chair [top], which has tapered legs and lovely proportions, is shown in more than 20 different fabrics. Among the most attractive is the cotton leaf and-branch pattern in pewter, copper and gold, which leans to mid-20th century but would be a transitional choice, too. There is Dacron and foam fill and the chair requires assembly. Target. $170. Dimensions for reference: 24” w. x 30” d. x 32” h. Seat height: 18.5”.
With shorter tapered legs, and a back that’s higher to balance a thick seat deck, the Dover armless chair looks heavier and shorter than the Avington. Weighing in at 33 pounds (to the Avington’s 21 pounds) the visual weight is actual and the back is 3-inches taller. But the rest is an illusion helped by the windowpane check of the vivid mimosa yellow fabric. The seat height is only ½-inch higher than Avington’s. These two have chameleon qualities that allow them to be used in so many rooms. I could see the Dover in a country French setting (especially with this fabric) or as a statement piece in a mimimalist library. Angelo Home Store. $330. Dimensions for reference: 23” w. x 29-1/2” d x 35” h. Seat height: 19”.
If L.A. designer Windsor Smith’s Harlow chair is named after one of Hollywood’s most luscious blondes, it’s an apt match. Curved sabre legs add to the light scale and graceful appearance with a tufted back curved for comfort. Despite the corset silhouette, the straight top and squared-off shoulders prevent it from looking overly boudoir. Yes, it would be perfection in a bedroom. But it would be killer in a dining room, where repetition would showcase the sexy shape of the back. Windsor Smith Home Collection. $1550. Dimensions for reference: 30″ w. x 24″ d. x 36″ h. Seat Height: 18″
How adorable is the Little Slipper Chair, a toddler-size confection covered in hot-pink zig zag cotton (100%)? Barely two-feet tall it’s a dreamy addition to a nursery or kid’s room and can live on as a perch for dollies or stuffed animals. Stubby round hardwood legs are slanted for stability and welting gives the mini chair a neat finish. Think pink! Land of Nod. $300. Dimensions for reference: 19″ w. 21″d. x 22.5″ h. Seat Height: N/A.
A funky slipper, shown by Toronto designer Jane Hall, features legs reduced to short bracket feet in front. In back, they disappear into the hot colored stripes of Designer’s Guild fabric. I’d call this a one bottom-heavy and, while it’s a custom piece, it looks like vintage ca. 1978. Custommade. $1500-$1800. Dimensions for reference: N/A. Seat height: N/A.
Fan back slipper chairs are a love-it-or hate it proposition. This pair, dated 1940s, are distinctly bedroom furniture at a time when slanted, channel-tufted furniture had its heyday. I still see them occasionally in old films. Authentically low, with conical ebonized legs, they are offered “as is.” With original fabric, these twins are ripe for redo. Now picture this on an episode of Million Dollar Decorator: Martin Lawrence Bullard purchases them, has them reupholstered in leather, and puts them in a client’s front hall. Cain Modern at First Dibs. $2850. Dimensions for reference: N/A. Seat height: low.