In 1950 when my parents married, buying furniture that was all matched was an ideal. People at that time grew up during the depression and had lived through the Second World War and times were tough. If you could buy a full room of matched furniture at the time, it said that you now had some money, and things were looking up. But, that was then, and opinions on decorating have changed. What was once considered fashionable, is now looked at as unimaginative and boring, or like you went to a furniture store and just said “I’ll take all of that”, and you never gave the decorating of your room a second thought again. This blog post shows you the different shapes of legs used on furniture, and covers how easy it is to mix things up when decorating a room.
The above three illustrations show a variety of different styles of feet that are often seen on furniture with exposed legs; they are classified as Spool, Bun and Tapered. The spool, bun, and tapered foot is often seen on sofas and chairs, but you will also see those three shapes used as part of the design of end-tables and coffee tables, dressers and chests, the feet on bedroom furniture, and some dining room pieces.
The above illustration shows an assortment of traditional and modern styled Straight legs seen on furniture. The straight styled leg can be seen on some sofas, on chairs with exposed legs, coffee tables and end tables, dining room tables, chests, benches, buffets, sideboards, and beds and dressers.
The above illustrations show both traditional and modern styles of Curved legs seen on occasional chairs ( similar to dining room chairs, with or without arms), wing chairs, dining room tables, as well as the legs of some coffee tables and end tables, chests, buffets and credenzas.
The final grouping of furniture legs to look at are an assortment of Straight and Curved styled feet that can appear on chests, dressers, cabinets, secretary desks, armoires, etc.
Working with Legs and Feet
Now that you have examined the illustrations showing an assortment of different styled legs and feet, both curved and straight, it’s time to decorate with them.
When decorating a room, diversity creates interest. There is nothing worse than a room filled with many exposed legged chairs, tables, chests, etc, where all the legs are in one style. When decorating a room try to have leg and feet styles (straight, curved, bun, spool or tapered) appear at least two times in that space, three times if the room is bigger, and then go onto one of the other leg styles.
Don’t put things with matching feet or leg styles next to each other, instead space them apart. You want to move leg and foot styles around a room, not isolate them in one space; that way you are keeping the eye moving.
After you have selected a pair of chairs with, let’s say, curved legs, a couple of end-tables with straight legs, and a sofa and chest with bun feet, go back into the straight and curved leg categories and find other straight and curved leg styles that are compatible with what you already have, and add them if space permitted.
One more thing to think about when mixing up leg styles in a room... You don’t want every piece of furniture in that room to have exposed legs, even if they are different styled. You want to have a sofa, or chair(s), here or there that has a Kick-Pleat flounce, Box Pleat flounce, etc, which is nothing more than a sofa or chair with upholstery fabric that goes right down to the floor. The chairs or sofa with covered legs will be a kind of calm spot, or place for the eye to relax and not be so stimulated as it looks at all the different styles of legs and feet in the room.
Now let’s look at the above drawing, it’s the cover illustration for this post before I colored it. First notice how the sofa has a tapered foot. Secondly look at how the two end-tables are not matched for style; one has straight legs, and the other is round with curved legs. Third, notice how the two chairs that face each other are matched with spool styled feet. Next look at the coffee table with its curved legs and finally the ottoman with its bun feet. If more of the room were shown, the bun feet of the ottoman and the tapered feet seen on the sofa would be repeated again in another part of the space if space allowed.
The final illustration for this post shows a sofa and ottoman with bun feet, the two chairs flanking the sofa have claw and ball feet, which would be viewed under the curved leg styles seen in the illustrations, the matched end-tables have straight legs and the coffee table tapered legs.
The above two photos show a small part of the great room which is in the Party Barn at nationally known interior decorator Bunny Williams and her husband John Rosselli’s Falls Village, Connecticut estate. What I want you to see here is how many different styles of furniture have been put together in that one room; there are things that could be considered modern, transitional, traditional and really antique. The diversity of pieces gives a lot of visual interest to the room, but the look is held together by the color of the off-white upholstery fabrics used on a lot of the furniture and the red which is an accent color in the space. Also notice how the sofa, with covered legs and the upholstered chair seen in the first photo, on the left, with its covered legs provides a bit of calm set against all the different kinds of legged furniture seen in the room.
Now that I’ve covered the basics of mixing up leg styles when decorating a room, I want you to start looking through decorating magazines like Architectural Digest, House Beautiful, Veranda, Elle Decor, Southern Home, etc. Go to book stores and page through the fancy coffee table books written by the famous decorators in the design world and see how they handled things. Look at Pinterest or Google search the name of any famous decorator that you know, followed by the word Instagram, and if they have a site you will most likely see many things that they have done.
I hope that this article has been inspiring, happy decorating to you all and don’t forget to look at the companion posts that follow, as you might find something there that will interest you.
Companion posts on Fred Gonsowski Garden Home,com…..
Arranging Living Room Furniture, so Sofas talk to Chairs, Like the Pros do 9-7-2012,
Arranging furniture TWELVE different ways in the Same Room 9-15-2012,
Arranging furniture in a 12 foot wide by 24 foot long Living Room 2-5-2014,
Arranging furniture around a Fireplace in the Corner of a Room 9-29-2012,
When buying Living Room furniture, FORGET the LOVESEAT, buy two Wing, Club or Occasional Chairs instead 10-13-2012,
Arranging furniture in a 15 foot wide by 25 foot long Bedroom 1-24-2016,
Floating (Arranging) furniture in a 20 foot long by 20 foot wide Living Room 1-29-2017,
The Right way to hang Curtains and Drapes 5-3-2011,
The Right height of Table Lamp for your End Table 5-19-2011,
Matching the Right shape End table with a Table Lamp 1-12-2014,
The answer to…”Can you put a Floor Lamp next to a Sofa?” 10-4-2012,
Interior Decorating with ACCENT Lamps 12-5-2012,
Interior Decorating with TABLE Lamps 12-12-2012,
IInterior Decorating with BUFFET lamps 12-19-2012,
Arranging your Decorative Accessories (knickknacks and Collectables) 6-7-2011,
A Bridge unites Tablescapes and Wall Decor 6-10-2011,
Arranging Decorative Accessories on a Sofa Table, Buffet, Sideboard or Credenza 3-10-2015,
Picking and Hanging the Right size Picture or Mirror over your Fireplace 6-23-2011,
It’s Easy to Make a Grouping of Pictures 6-29-2011,
Making an Interesting Arrangement of Pictures 7-8-2011,
It’s Easy to hang Pictures up on the wall 7-17-2011,
Hanging Pictures around a Room 8-3-2011,
Hanging Pictures over a Sofa 9-12-2011,
Step-by-Step instructions for Hanging a Gallery Wall 2-15-2015,
Hanging a collection of Plates/Dishes up on the wall 1-19-2013
Looking at Patterns used in Interior Decorating on Fabrics, Drapes, Wallpaper and Carpeting 3-10-2012,
Interior Decorating..Looking at the Different sizes of Patterns used on Wallpaper and fabric 3-20-2012,
Mixing and Matching Fabric and Wallpaper Patterns 4-13-2012,
Interior Decorating is ALL about Equal Balance 2-27-2011,
Pick (Use) four colors when Decorating a Room 3-7-2011,
It’s Easy to Decorate a Room with a Tall/High Ceiling 2-3-2013,
When Decorating a Beige room think Tones, Texture and Sculptural interest 3-16-2011,
Paint a room a Dark color, then add Light accents 3-27-2011,
Color Theory…When Interior Decorating a room, Remember Wood is a color too 3-9-2013,
How to pick the Perfect Gray Paint..A Popular Color Choice of the Moment 2-15-2014,
How to pick Paint Colors that go with an Oriental Rug/Carpet 2-21-2016.
Helpful information! I never even thought about the mix of feet and legs on furniture.
Hi there Caroline, One more bit of information that I hope inspired you, thanks for you comment ;-}
Hello there Fred, I was actually thinking about you just the other day. Wondering when we’d get another wonderful blog and here it is. [ = Thank you so much, I truly enjoy your insight and natural way of explaining how to make all things gorgeous!
Hope you had a joyous holiday season!
Hi there Denise, my mother died last year, she was 91 years old and we kept her home right up to the end, so all of our time was taken up making sure she was comfortable. After she died we had many things to do, which took up any time I had to write blog posts. The holidays were odd, because all of our attention, for years, was placed on her, and she was the center of everything.
Denise, I think it is nice that you thought about me, a person you never met, but hopefully had inspired you. Happy 2018 to you, and hopefully this year I will have the time to write more inspiring pieces.
Fred, I’m so sorry to hear about your Mom. I know she was a big part of your life. My Dad too was sick through the holidays. He was diagnosed on Halloween and passed one day shy of his 87th birthday on the 5th this month.
I feel like I do know you a bit….I’ve seen your home, which is really someones heart. I’ve met your friends and was even been invited to a dinner party. [ =
Every time I pull into my drive I see your influence as you helped me decide the color of my home. Which by the way is the favorite of everyone on the block.
I really do enjoy your work so thank you again for sharing parts of yourself with all of us my friend! Peace and happiness I wish for you!
Denise, my sympathy to you on the death of your father. It is very odd to have someone gone. It seems the first year is the worse, especially as each holiday passes, when it’s their birthday, and you get up to the anniversary of the day they died. I think it is all about getting used to them not being there anymore. I know a few people who have lost loved-ones this past year, and at this point they are just existing, waiting, hoping for life to begin again, but questioning if it really will get better.
Hi Fred…never thought about changing up furniture legs…I always learn something new from you. Would love ideas for updating an old dining room set. I hate to part with my aunt’s set, but its out-of-date.
Hi there Jgrazzano, if you want to update your aunt’s dining room set, first of all change out the fabric for the seating. Pick out fabric that goes with what you already have, for color and texture, in your house, and that will help it to blend in a bit more.
How about breaking it up a bit…instead of having it all together in one room, think about putting the dining room chairs in bedrooms, the living room, by a chest in the hall, etc, and when needed bring them back to the dining room.
Who said you have to have the china chest or buffet in the living room; break those pieces up too. Have a buffet in a hallway, bedroom, or playroom etc and the china chest in the living room, if space allows.
I have a dining room set in the Queen Anne style, which consists of a table and eight side chairs, that my parents bought for me when I moved into my first house. After a while I inherited my maternal grandmother’s dining room set that was bought in the 1930’s, it is in a kind of Art Deco Style and has straight legs, compared to the curved legs that are seen on Queen Anne furniture. Now I have my parents Queen Anne dining room set with eight chairs in the center of my dining room, I have my grandmother’s buffet and four of her side chairs along the walls of the dining room, which I reupholstered to match what I have. My dining room table is oval, so when needed I can put my grandmother’s four side chairs on the four curved ends of the table and easily seat twelve at my table.
My grandmother’s china chest, which looks like a small book case or curio cabinet is in the living room. Sadly, the dining room table is in my cellar with things piled up on it. I’ve always thought, that if one day I ever expanded this house, I would use it in a new kitchen or great room.
Thanks for your comment jgrazzano, I hope my thoughts are somewhat helpful.
Hi Fred, this is a very helpful post for me, thanks, because I never paid any attention to furniture legs before but now see how they make a big difference in the overall feeling of a room. I have some furniture rearranging to do now!
Wishing you a Happy and Healthy 2018! After the frigid weather we’ve had, I’m keeping my fingers crossed for an early Spring, regardless of what the groundhog says!
Hi there Margaret, Happy 2018 to you also. Today I was looking at the different decorating magazines at the marker, and all I focused on was the mixture of different leg styles seen in the rooms photographed. I do hope this post gets my readers looking at things.