Leather Wingback chairs are the perfect addition to a room if you're looking to add a touch of originality or freshen up an old colour scheme. The wonderful part about a Wingback chair is that it doesn't need to match your other interior design; it is a stand-alone piece, often used to show a bit of personality in your room.
Mixing practicality and style which transcends centuries of living room décor, the wingback chair (also often referred to as simply a ‘wing chair’) is a classic furniture piece making a comeback in modern homes.
It’s not difficult to see why this particular armchair style has stood the test of time – with its striking aesthetics and sensible design, the wingback chair is a homeowners’ favourite flexible enough to fit with many interior styles and varied settings across the house.
The wing chair has acquired many names over the years – from ‘fireside chair’, inspired by its original purpose, to the Americanised ‘easy chair’, the wingback armchair is a distinctive piece of furniture whose comfortable depth and protruding wings add a dramatic touch to any space.
This particular type of armchair originates from late 1600s Britain, when it was conceived as a way of providing an extra bit of insulation against the cold in the drafty houses of the era. Designed to take central position in front of the fireplace, the wing chair engulfed its occupants in a bubble of warmth created by the wings trapping the warmth of the fire in and keeping the breeze away from the head and torso.
This practical thermal design later evolved to feature extra comforts such as soft leather or fabric upholstery and padding, as well as more elaborate legs crafted to complement the distinctive wings of the armchair. By the 1720s, the merits of the wingback chair were established, and its popularity began to grow across the globe.
Learn more about the origins of the wingback chair.
Since it was first designed in the late 17 century, the wingback chair has undergone a series of makeovers as a result of different cultural influences.
Closest to the original, the Queen Anne style featured a series of gentle curves, including a curved seat cushion, cabriole legs and scrolled wooden wings. The wings and high-back provided the distinctive comfort associated with the armchair style, and are regarded as the inspiration which travelled across the Atlantic and shaped all subsequent wing chair designs.
This particular wingback chair style remained in Britain as primarily living room seating, and was often featured in Victorian writing as an integral part of family scenes around the fire. Over time, British wing chairs were given increasingly more luxurious unholstering and more generous padding.
Across the ocean, the American strain of the wingback chair went through a practicality-focused makeover which left the padding in, but straightened the legs and diversified the types of wood used for the chair frame. Solid colours took over as the preferred look, and the wing chair slowly made its way across the home, moving from the living room into other focal areas such as the bedroom and office.
In fact, American wingback chairs, dubbed easy chairs, were mainly considered bedroom furniture and attributed to older people who need a comfortable place to rest protected from the drafts by a high back and elaborate side wings. This view of the wing chair is where another popular nickname for it – the ‘grandfather chair’ – comes from.
Many modern armchairs reflect core elements of the wingback chair in their design. The Mid-Century Modern classic, the Egg Chair (a reference to the chair’s occupant being encased like a baby chick), for instance, does away with elaborate wooden legs in favour of a slender metal x-base, and replaces dated fabrics with smooth genuine leather, without losing the snug feeling of the classic wing chair.
Having stood the test of time for over four centuries, wing chairs offer unrivalled flexibility when it comes to interior décor options. From their original place in the living room, to bedrooms, studies and even dining rooms, the versatile wingback chairs can be incorporated into a number of settings:
One of the trendiest spots for a wing chair is around the dining table, mixed in with your traditional dining chairs. Perfect for creating a visual juxtaposition between the soft curves of the armchair and the starker lines of the classic chairs, Queen Anne wingback chairs placed at the head and foot of your dining table would beautifully complete the setting and making the whole room appear bigger.
Our top tip if you want to try this look out is to match the wood throughout – from table and chairs to the frame of the wing chairs – and make sure all the furniture shapes work well together. Matching the colour scheme also adds to the overall look of the space – coordinate your chair upholstery with the fabric pattern or the leather colour of the wingback chairs, and choose a tablecloth in the same palette.
Wingback chairs are also popular as a stand in for a desk chair. More glamorous than modern office chair options, a wing chair is both super comfortable and incredibly impressive when paired with a luxurious wooden desk. Just make sure that the wingback chair you choose has armrests low enough to slide under the desk so you can work comfortably.
Not long after the wingback chair was introduced to British living rooms, matching footstools became popular as an additional bit of comfort for the occupants. Combining a wingback chair with a footrest is the perfect solution if you are creating a reading nook in your bedroom or living room.
A single wing chair is impressive enough to add style and purpose to an otherwise undefined part of the room. Accompanied by a charming side table and a chic floor lamp, a wingback chair and footstool are the perfect place to settle in for the evening with a good book.
And, if one wing chair is not enough, you could always get a pair! This style armchairs actually look stunning when coupled up, thanks to their gorgeous sculptural shape which lends itself to symmetrical interior design arrangements.
Place the two wingback chairs side by side facing the fireplace with a small table in between, or on either side of the hearth for optimal warmth. Alternatively, you can have the armchairs flush next to each other, as a kind of loveseat sofa with a twist. Last, but not least, you can create visual symmetry by placing them on either side of your sofa, facing each other across a coffee table.
The classic pairing of a wingback chair and sofa is another stunning look for your living room. As we mentioned above, wing chairs look fantastic both as a pair and on their own, so you can play around with different layouts depending on the space you have to work with. So long as you choose a wingback chair with pattern matching that of your sofa, it will help create a cohesive look no matter whether it’s placed in the corner, flanking the sofa or next to the fireplace.
If you already have a similar arrangement at home and you are wondering how to update a wingback chair without spending a fortune, try freshening the look up with matching cushions and perhaps even a rug with a similar pattern or colour palette.
Top tip: Choose wing chairs with lower backs for the middle of your room to maintain the flow of the space, and higher ones for the corner areas.
Here at Thomas Lloyd, we have a selection of wingback chairs for sale. Browse our collections above and have your pick from a variety of colours and styles, including some gorgeous wingback chairs with claw feet.