An Interior Designer’s Secret Weapon: A Pair of Vintage Armchairs
Deliver a double dose of style with this interior design trick
Three may be a magic number when it comes to design, but two’s definitely company when it comes to armchairs. A pair of chairs is a classically stylish motif, whether they face a sofa or flank a side table as if having a private tête-à-tête.
When it comes to the age of the chairs, there’s something about vintage designs — often low-slung, shapely and stand-alone elegant — that just works. Whether you call it pre-loved, secondhand or vintage, it’s no wonder that old (but not antique) furniture has taken on a new status as desirable, fashionable and obtainable. Upholstered pieces usually also require re-covering, meaning the end product is pleasingly unique. Interior designers will use a pair of armchairs to add flair and contrast to a room, meshing old and new for a custom finish. Take a look at these appealing examples to see how it’s done, then try this simple styling trick at home.
Vintage Chairs 1: Anna Burles, original photo on Houzz
Beautify a bay window. Utilize the space afforded by a big bay window to show off a pair of curved beauties. These 1960s chairs have been upholstered in a pale green fabric, creating an informal seating area and a chic, understated focal point.
Steer toward nautical. Combine preppy chambray with simple stripes for an airy, nautical look that will stand the test of time.
Vintage Chairs 2: LEIVARS, original photo on Houzz
Slim down. These midcentury marvels have dainty legs and small proportions, meaning they’ll sit sweetly even in tight spaces. Gray cotton velvet is a versatile choice, lending low-key luster in a subtle shade that doesn’t clash with the room’s statement colors.
Vintage Chairs 3: LEIVARS, original photo on Houzz
Find the right material. Graphic upholstery enhances neutral spaces. These chairs, typical of 1960s Italian design, feature plain pink velvet on the fronts and patterned silk on the sides and backs. The combination is practical as well as pretty, restricting the more delicate material to areas of the chair that see less wear and tear.
Vintage Chairs 4: Shalini Misra Ltd, original photo on Houzz
Keep it serene. Green accents create a calming, work-conducive palette in this study. Giving each armchair its own directional floor lamp ensures they’re always ready for some reading. A tiny tang of orange artwork provides the perfect finishing touch.
Get fancy. Vintage furniture is full of character that can enhance the look of off-the-shelf items. Why not experiment with colors and patterns you’d be hesitant to try on larger pieces? Accessories can always be used to tie different styles together.
Mix and match. Skip the three-piece suite and opt instead for two chairs in a complementary color to your sofa.
Vintage Chairs 5: Redesign London Limited, original photo on Houzz
Think clean lines. This retro pair is sitting pretty on a geometric rug, adding a second slice of graphic design. Chairs from the 1950s are fairly easy to come by, with secondhand shops sometimes yielding great bargains.
Vintage Chairs 6: Sigmar, original photo on Houzz
Feature a desert favorite. These handsome Danish Safari chairs were designed by Kaare Klint in the 1930s, but they could easily be contemporary. Looking to bring in a laid-back, organic element to prevent a room from feeling too “done”? This type of chair is a great choice.
Have a little fun. Landings are often wasted space, but if yours is big enough, a pair of vintage chairs could transform it into a nook for an evening drink or morning cup of coffee, or a quiet reading space away from the busier parts of the home.
Vintage chairs’ often-petite scale makes them perfect for such a space. And, much like a powder room, a landing can be the perfect place to get a little wild.