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Called the wing back, easy chair or fireside chair, the wing chair as we know it developed over time.  Wing chairs first appeared in English manors. There, furniture makers were producing special chairs with little wings so as to protect the sitter from harmful Northern European draughts and, when positioned in front of the hearth, to retain the warmth of the fire. Sometime in the late 17th century and soon thereafter the wing chair appeared in colonial houses in America.

Wing Chair by Lee Industries

With it’s rich history and heritage tracing all the way back to Europe, it is easy to see why the winged chair is such a perfect fit for a home in the South.  It is just important when using a historical piece like this that you keep in mind that when used traditionally, a wing can look dated.  To prevent this from happening, pop it up with a fun fabric like a geometric print.  Kimberly suggests to clients to consider lacquering the legs to give it an edgy look. 

Wing Backs in brown zebra print with nailhead trim detail. LOVE! Source Victoria Dreste Designs: An Antique French Wing Chair recovered in cut velvet turquoise fabric.

We also love the wing chair because it garners me lots of praise from our male clients.  It’s a big enveloping chair and that spells comfort for most men.  Kimberly always says – “Men love a comfortable chair…let me repeat…men love (need) a comfortable chair!!!!”

Piper Wing Chair by Barclay Butera Lifestyle

Kimberly’s favorite winged chair at Knotting Hill Interiors is by Lee Industries which is a brand that we carry.  It is called the Shelter Wing Chair.  She loves it and uses it in many of her designs because it is clean, modern and comfortable!

Shelter Wing Chair by Lee Industries

What we don’t like about some wing chairs is when they look like they belong in your grandmothers house.  There is a fine line. Many people feel they must use the quintessential floral print and this is what makes them look like they belong to your Grandmother! If you want to go “wing”, then go sleek or go edgy!

Source Rachel Reider Interior Designs, Chapman Hse, Nantucket

As the resident, “Master of Fabrics” at KHI Retail & Design Studios, it should not be surprising that I personally like wing chairs that have two different fabrics on them.   It’s a very unique way to add a very designer look and takes the traditional to transitional!

To summarize the how to do a proper “wing”…

1. What we love about a wing chair is one done well.  Try a quadrafoil or a geometric print on the chair.

2. Men prefer them due the “comfy” factor  and that they are typically on the larger side (as far as chairs are concerned)

3.  Be fresh and modern or else, you look like you are living in your Grandmothers house (or attic)!

4. Don’t be afraid to be transitional and have a chair upholstered in two different fabrics! 

So, using the wing in southern design only makes sense!  We would love to talk fabrics and patterns in our Knotting Hill Retail Studios!  Next time you are in, be sure to see if one of our design team is in (and if Kimberly is there, you have hit a home run!) and we would love to show you some fabulous fabrics!  We would also absolutely love to consult with you by phone!  Check out our “Just Wing It” board on Pinterest!

“I think that is what makes southern design so special. It is about creating a feeling of connection to your grandmothers front porch. It is about tassels and wing chairs and blue and white china handed down from generation to generation.” – Mark Jones, “King of Fabrics”, Knotting Hill Retail & Design Studios

For help with your home or room design please contact us at and visit our website.  Follow Knotting Hill on Pinterest and Facebook.

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