Types of Wingback Chairs


Wingback chairs have been a furniture staple for families since they were introduced in the 18th century. Their original intention was to keep the person sitting in them warm and comfortable by keeping out drafts with their over-sized arms and holding in heat with their tall backs and wing-like sides. Early models had no upholstery but used a cushion on the back and the seat. Later and modern versions include overstuffed backs and lower arms that swing outward for comfort.


  • Non-upholstered wingback chairs are the earliest versions of this popular chair. They were dressed with a back cushion and a seat cushion, which could be changed as the season or comfort level dictated. Cushions were generally filled with down and feathers, and they were fluffed regularly to keep the look.

Different Upholstery Materials

  • Typical materials for upholstered wingback chairs include leather and softer fabrics. Moire fabric and jacquard are popular, as are chintz patterns. Thicker and durable upholstery fabrics are favored for heavy use situations, and more delicate fabrics are ideal for bedroom reading nooks.

Arm Sizes and Styles

  • Modern styles include those that have almost non-existent arms while still keeping the high back and wing sides. These still fulfill the original purpose of providing comfort and keeping in warmth for the person resting in the chairs. Other arm styles include sharply slanting arms, straight 90-degree arms from the seat and arms that have a roll. Arms can also be found as solidly upholstered, or they can have open-weaved lattice styling.

Back Length

  • The back length of wingback chairs depends on the style. Traditional wingback chairs will have a full back giving full back support. Modern wingback chairs can be found in a reclining style or with a partial back with the head free or with limited support.

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  • Photo Credit contemporary accent chair image by James Phelps from Fotolia.com
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