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Dining Room Chairs

Tips and ideas for furnishing the dining room with antique chairs.

In a dining room a set of chairs may be desirable but is not always obtainable. To begin with the simplest, English country types, we must take the rush-seated, spindle-backed chairs. Such chairs can be used with an oak or walnut table in almost any room ; pad cushions may cover the rush seats if desired, although the chairs lose some of their character thereby. Then there are Yorkshire oak chairs, and the ladder-back, rush-seated chairs with plain turned legs and framing, forerunners of more elaborate forms. Rush-seated Queen Anne chairs, with turned or cabriole legs and the unmistakable curves of the period in their backs, may be collected separately, for there is a great family resemblance among all these simpler types, whether their frames are of walnut or mahogany.

Queen Anne Chair
Queen Anne Chair

In a small dining room where a mahogany table may be the most important feature, a set of early Chippendale Chairs in mahogany certainly creates a greater impression of considered arrangement, although the table they surround may boast the thorough workmanship and its cloth may cloak the inelegance of mid Victorian design.

Chippendale's famous work on furniture was published in three editions in 1754, 1759, and 1762. It was called: "Gentleman's and Cabinet Makers Director", and it is an ample and magnificent record of the fertile fancy of this master designer: a reprint is published today, for original editions are rare.

Simple Chippendale Chair
Simple Chippendale Chair

Chairs in the Chippendale taste with pierced ladder-backs, an elaboration of the simpler ladder-back type already mentioned, ribbon back chairs , wheel backs, finished in the Gothic manner, exquisitely carved in mahogany, form a huge store from which we may draw for the furnishing of the dining room.

The plainer type of Chippendale chair is very agreeable in a dining room providing the rest of the furniture is not too heavy in appearance. A Sheraton table for instance would be right from the point of view of balance with such chairs, but an oak refectory table would not. This seems very elementary and obvious, but with the loosening of the bonds of period came the release of a horde of theories about the mixing of anything and everything in the shape of furniture; unrestful ideas that have the effect of exchanging arrangement for disorder.

The later eighteenth century chairs, such as Hepplewhite chairs and those by Sheraton, are difficult to use with earlier furniture, and in this case period should be followed as far as possible.

Next: Painted Chairs.

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