Traditional design is rising in popularity across the country, as people spend more time at home and are looking for a little more comfort and familiarity in their home’s design. The surge in popularity of traditional interior design is something that steadily grew in the second half of 2020, and one of our 2021 trend predictions is that it will continue to rise into the coming year.
With its rise in popularity, we’ve been exploring different traditional design ideas, with furniture, decor, and overall room designs that bring this style to life. One piece in particular that we’ve been seeing in a lot of traditional and modern spaces alike? The wingback chair.
What is a wingback chair?
A wingback chair—also known as a wing chair, a fireside chair, or an easy chair—is a style of upholstered accent chair with “wings” attached to the seatback. Wingback chairs generally feature a high back, and all but some of the more modern styles of this chair have armrests. (Traditionally, the wings connect all the way down to the armrest in one continuous piece.) They tend to be designed with wooden legs and a fully upholstered body—though some styles have wood side panels and backs, or scrolled wood frames along the edge of the chair design.
You’ll also sometimes see wingback details in settees (which are perfect for a dining nook) or in upholstered captain’s dining chairs. This will add a more formal, traditional vibe to your dining space.
In the most traditional approaches to this chair style, you’ll often see nailhead trim, roll arms, and scrolled or cabriole legs—a classic Queen Anne-style furniture detail. But more modern designs forego these details, creating a more streamlined look.
Where do wingback chairs come from?
A quick lesson in the history of wingback chairs. The first wingback chairs were made in England in the 1600s—but they didn’t rise in popularity until the 1720s. They were created as a way to help shield a person from drafts of cold air (something quite common in colonial homes!) and also to trap the heat from a fireplace. That’s actually why they’re sometimes called fireside chairs, as it was a popular style of chair to have pulled up in front of or flanking a fireplace. While the earliest wingback chair designs were made entirely of wood, with no cushioning or upholstery, today they make very comfortable chairs to cozy up in, whether they’re pulled up next to a fireplace or not!
How to Style a Wingback Chair
Want to see wingback chairs in action? We’ve rounded up a handful of our favorite wingback chair designs in the Modsy catalog. Keep scrolling for some wingback chair design ideas and how to integrate this style of chair into your home!
Darlene Accent Chair (Black), Nyla Home
This take on a wingback chair features sleek mid-century modern lines. The dark color is sophisticated and modern and allows this chair to work well across many different styles. Despite the chair’s sleek form, its soft fabric and traditionally inspired shape make it a cozy place to sit!
Marilla Accent Chair (Khaki), Jofran
The combination of gingham-patterned upholstery and wingback styling give these chairs a very traditional look that’s perfect for modern farmhouse and traditional styles alike. With their padded seats, arms, and backs, these chairs are the perfect place to curl up with a good book.
Iris Wingback Chair (Cathedral Slate), Ravine Home
The classic blue and white pattern found on this wingback chair—along with the tapered legs and clean-lined frame—make this a perfect choice for those looking to embrace New Traditional design style. This chair will give your space a comfy, traditional vibe with an updated feel.
Paul Accent Chair (Pink), Nyla Home
This is a very modern take on a wingback chair. In fact, we may even say it’s wingback-inspired rather than sitting squarely in the camp of wingback chairs. With an hourglass shape and metal framing, it adds a striking look to any modern or eclectic space. But it’s the high, curved seat back, plus the spindles, that give a nod to both wingback and traditional Windsor styles. To make it comfortable, this chair features a plush seat cushion and free-floating back pillow, which come in many colors to suit different color schemes and styles.
Modern Wing Accent Chair (Navy), Scout Home
An absolutely classical take on a wingback, this navy upholstered wingback chair has a traditional form, with a camelback top, nailhead trim, and rolled arms. However, its simple, streamlined legs give it a slightly modern twist. This is the perfect choice for a sophisticated reading nook.
Iris Wingback Chair (Shibori Coral Cay), Ravine Home
Just because you want a chair with a traditional shape doesn’t mean you can’t have some fun with the upholstery! The fun Shibori-style print on the fabric is perfect for boho or eclectic spaces, giving your room a pop of color and global-inspired style.
Malia Accent Chair (Grey), Nyla Home
This elegant and rustic chic wingback chair will add sophistication to any corner of your home. With a weathered wood frame featuring beautiful scrollwork, neutral exterior upholstery, and a crushed velvet seat, back, and accent pillow, this chair is full of vintage charm. All of its elegance makes it a great stand-alone statement piece or a perfect pairing for those interested in decorating with antiques.
Palm Desert Wing Chair (White), Global Views
With button-tufted linen cushions and a wood frame, this modern wingback-style chair has boho and coastal written all over it. The frame’s sleek lines make it perfect for modern and Scandinavian spaces as well. We love how the caning on the sides adds texture and an unexpected element that you don’t typically see on a wingback chair!
Marilla Accent Chair (Navy), Jofran
The plaid upholstery on this classic wingback chair adds a warm and traditional touch. But lighter wood of the tapered wooden legs adds a sleek, modern rustic feel. We love how this piece adds a pop of color and pattern to a space—great for those looking to dive into the Traditional Comfort design trend.
Iris Wingback Chair (Cathedral Blush), Ravine Home
If you’re looking for sleek and modern wingback chairs, this design in blush upholstery is the perfect choice. It offers an understated pop of color to your space and works perfectly on its own or in a pair. The subtle pattern on the fabric adds a fun, unexpected element to this chair—giving this classic chair style an updated look.
Wingback Accent Chair (Beige), Jofran
This is a more simplified version of a wingback chair. With simple lines and a lower back, stylistically it’s almost a combination of a club chair and wingback style. But a pinstripe pattern and exposed nailheads give this chair a definite traditional bent. We love the idea of pairing it with a footstool for extra comfortable lounging.
Erik Wing Chair (Burnt Sienna), West Elm
This Scandinavian-inspired version of a wingback chair is great for adding classic flair to a modern space. The long, tapered legs in a dark oak finish add a definite mid-century modern touch, while the soft saddle-colored leather manages to be both trendy and timeless (and oh-so-comfortable).
Drexel Arm Chair, Hyde Park
Add some sophistication to your dining room with wingback captain’s chairs. The nailhead trim gives it a striking look, and the espresso finish on the wood legs adds beautiful contrast to the light upholstery. A pair of these chairs is not only great for use at the head and foot of your dining table but would also look great flanking a fireplace.
Tabitha Accent Chair (Beige), Nyla Home
These French country-inspired wingback chairs have a classic form with deep seats, which are perfect for lounging. With linen upholstery on the seat and back, burlap upholstery on the exterior, and a solid birch frame with carved feet, this chair is full of charming, elegant details. It’s perfect for Refined Rustic and Traditional spaces.
Want to try on the wingback chair trend?