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The Ultimate Chair Back Styles Guide (24 Illustrated Styles)

Discover 24 classic chair back styles including Chippendale, Sheraton Parlor, Hepplewhite, Rococo, Federal Oval, Bannister and more. This is the ultimate chair back style guide.
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Welcome to our extensive chair back styles article with illustrations.

Below you can check out common chair backs through the centuries.

Click on the images to enlarge.  At the bottom we have a full collage showcasing all chair styles.  See all our furniture articles here.

1. Chippendale Chair Back Styles

Chippendale furniture is named after British furniture maker Thomas Chippendale (1718-1779).  The best pieces were made of mahogany; less expensive used walnut, cherry and maple.

The style is a blend of rococo, gothic and Chinese.

The Chippendale style evolved over the years in both Britain and then in the USA.

Chippendale Ribband chair back style
Chippendale Chinese Style

2. Waved Slat or Ladderback

Waved Slat or Ladderback

The waved slat / ladderback dates back to the middle ages.

It's a simple design, more for function than form.

The chair width is typically narrow.  a straight slat is very plain, the waved slat is an effort to add a decorative element to the chair appearance.

3. Fiddleback Chair Back Style

Fiddleback chair back style

The fiddleback chair is a dining chair.

This chair style is identified by the main chair back slat in the shape of a fiddle or approximating a fiddle.  The design varies, but as long as the outline approximates that of a fiddle, it falls in the fiddleback style.

This style hit the scene in Britain in the early 18th century.

Some versions have spindles in addition to the fiddle slat while some only have the large fiddle slat.

The wide fiddle slat makes for a reasonably comfortable chair.  These days, it's found in country style kitchens.

4. Federal Oval Chair Back Style

Federal Oval chair back style

I love all things in the Federal design including the Federal oval chair.

The federal style refers to the time period after the American Revolutionary war being influenced by Georgian and Adam styles.  The federal style influenced architecture as well as furniture.

5. Bannister

Bannister chair back style

The bannister chair style adopts its name by the way it resembles a stair bannister with spindles.

It's a rather plain chair style that is still used today.  Because the spindles are all the same, it's a chair style that can easily be mass-produced.  Our kitchen table has bannister style chairs.

There are many different styles of the bannister chair back including high back, narrow, curved back and more.

6. Studded Leather Chair Back

Studded leather chair back

The studded leather chair back is the only upholstered chair back style to make this list.

The leather upholstery is attached with prominent studs that secure it around the perimeter.

Like many on this page, this chair style comes in many sizes and forms - the unifying design element being the upholstered leather with studs.

In fact, the style is still used today, but usually it's with larger, wider, more comfortable chairs.

7. Sheraton Parlor Chair Back Styles

Sheraton furniture is a neoclassical style that was popular in England from 1785 to 1820.  It's called Sheraton to credit the popular furniture maker Thomas Sheraton (1751 - 1806).

The Sheraton style was inspired by the Louis XVI style and features round tapered legs, fluting and most notably contrasting veneer inlays [source: Wikipedia].

We showcase several Sheraton chair back styles from both the parlor and square back styles below.

Sheraton Parlor chair back

Sheraton Parlor chair back
Sheraton Parlor chair back
Sheraton Parlor chair back
Sheraton Parlor chair back

Sheraton Parlor chair back
Sheraton Parlor chair back
Sheraton Parlor chair back
Sheraton Parlor chair back

8. Sheraton Square Chair Back Styles

Sheraton Square chair back style
Sheraton Square chair back style

9. Renaissance Revival

Renaissance Revival chair back style

The renaissance revival furniture period was from 1850 to 1880.

The carvings were ornate and included motifs such as flowers, fruits, scrolls and masks.

Dark woods was predominantly used.

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10. Rococo Revival

Rococo Revival chair back

The rococo revival period was from 1845 to 1870.

It's a highly ornate style, incorporating scrolls, shells, leaves and flowers.

The main wood types used were mahogany, walnut and rosewood so that it could be so intricately carved.

11. Hepplewhite Chair Back Styles

Hepplewhite furniture was on the scene from 1790 to 1815.

Stylistically, it's a federal style and coincides with the federal era.

As I stated above, I love federal style, mainly because symmetry and balance were important.

Hepplewhite Square chair back
Hepplewhite Shield chair back

12. Pilgrim Slat

Pilgrim slat chair back style

The pilgrim slat era was very early American spanning from 1690 to 1730.

It was at a time when pilgrims had few resources and so furniture styles were simple.  This would, of course change, but the pilgrim slat chair is an example of a very simple early furniture style.



Chair Back Styles Collage (Great for Pinning)

Chair back styles chart

If you wish to learn more about specific furniture styles and periods, check out the following, which is one of the best articles on the subject:  A primer on furniture styles by Antiquetrader.com.








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