Vintage Club Chair Style Guide
Maybe it’s just us, but mention a vintage club chair and we’re dreaming of an ember-lit interior awash in wooly tartans, taxidermy mounts, and overall cozy vibes. Yet when it comes to vintage club chairs, there’s no steadfast rule that says they must be mutually exclusive with lodge-like spaces, or even masculine leanings. In fact, a used club chair can be perfection in an Art Deco or Hollywood Regency atmosphere. The key to curating such a look? Choosing a secondhand club chair with the proper scale and shape, as well as the right finishes.
Believed to have originally been fashioned for English gentlemen’s clubs, antique club chairs are the antithesis of straight-backed occasional or dining chair. They’re chairs meant for sprawling, and on occasion, catching a few z’s. Rather than fighting their instincts, style them accordingly and drop them into sunny, cat nap-worthy widow nooks or in front of a fireplace. They’re also inspired in pairs, making them an ideal choice for opposite a sofa or desk.
Yes, vintage club chairs do favor ample proportions—deep seats, elevated arms, and boxy shapes are all tokens—which can feel counterintuitive when decorating a small space. But when done right, there are few pieces that can make equal impact in a room. Below, we’ve broken down a number of go-to styles along with the club chair styles that will make them effortlessly shine.
Your Style is Modernly Art Deco…
Inspired by simplification, Art Deco style embraces all of our favorites: streamlined forms, polished surfaces, machine age flourishes, and a touch of indulgence. Marvelously, the sleek, unadorned nature of a club chair lends itself perfectly to these principles. In fact, one of the most iconic club chairs of all time, Le Corbusier’s LC3 chair, is textbook Deco.
Consisting of a cube-like form, the LC3 club chair is upholstered in supple leather and encased in chrome banding that extends into four, simple legs. While Deco in theory, the LC3 has since become a modern interior default, akin to an Eames chair or Saarinen Tulip table. Pair it with a chrome-and-glass cocktail table and a cowhide rug for a look that reads as modern, but harks back to Art Deco decadence.
Your Style is Hollywood Regency…
If leopard print is your muse and you believe no room complete without a technicolor Foo Dog, consider a 1940s tub-back club chair your calling. The tub-back club chair was a popular style throughout the 40s and 50s, as it paid its respects to the propriety of Art Deco, but merged it with a theatrical flair. Among tub-back club chairs, swivel mechanisms are common, as they traditionally added a functional element to interiors (all the rage in the 1940s), not to mention an extra dose of fun.
While most chairs you find from this era will have been reupholstered at some point, many have opted for the bold, cabana-like colors that were commonplace in the 1950s. Swathed in shades like magenta, bubblegum, and indigo, there is something inherently ladylike about a retro club chair. The arms on these chairs tend to be a bit abbreviated, and feminine flourishes like channel back are common. In keeping with the femme overtones, we love the idea of pairing a brightly-hued club chair duo with two ottomans luxuriously upholstered in a zebra hide or black Mongolian sheepskin. The combo would be perfect for an editor-inspired office or a glamorously retro living room.
Your Style is Cottage Chic…
Imagine curating the feel of a romantic, manicured English garden without the hedge cutters. Sound unlikely? Think topiaries are a must? Well, normally they are, but when you pair a traditionally-styled club chair with a bright, foliage-festooned fabric, things can certainly take off in unexpected ways.
To get the look, it’s best to keep an eye out for classic English takes on the club chair—button tufting, elegantly rolled arms, and a horse-shoe ottoman are all lovely attributes. Once you’ve located a fitting chair, set it ablaze (with the help of a trusted upholsterer, of course) in a scrolling floral fabric. When textile shopping, look for large-scale prints featuring motifs like meandering vines, and don’t shy from anything you might normally consider “too busy.” We personally love the look of a head-to-toe upholstered club chair in a reading nook. For extra bonus points, match full-length curtains to your club chair’s upholstery. Yes, it’s a look shamelessly steeped in tradition, but when paired with walls in a saturated color like deep mint or vivid peach, we promise that it will read as cutting-edge rather than saccharine.