THE LOW-DOWN ON OUR FAVORITE LOW STOOL: THE VINTAGE X-BASE
We XOXO the X-base stool. An undeniable workhorse, the X-base stool is the kind of stool that will pull a full shift in your living room before swinging a second shift in your bedroom as a nightstand. Even more astounding is that you’d never know it, thanks to this low stool’s low-key, epicurean polish.
To highlight our favorite low stool, we’re delving into its history and running down a list of the hottest ways to use it. Does X mark the spot? You bet it does.
THE HISTORY OF THE X-BASE STOOL
Although it packs a distinctively modern punch, the X-base stool actually originated in Ancient Egypt. The Ancient Egyptian’s version of the X-base stool was relatively primitive, however, as it was intended to be a traveling companion. Design wise it mimicked a modern-day camp stool, with a leather top and a fold-up base. The Romans later adopted the style, but fashioned it into a more permanent fixture known as the curule, which featured a padded seat and artfully fluted X legs.
The style tread water throughout the Middle Ages, and the Napoleonic empire later revived it (gussying up the legs so that they assumed the form of two nudging semi-circles rather than a traditional X), but it wasn’t until the 20th Century when Bauhaus designer Ludwig Mies van der Rohe rebooted the style (via his Barcelona stool) that the X-base stool really took hold. In the decades that followed the X-base stool form became a novelty, used by high-end designers like Milo Baughman and Billy Baldwin. More recently, design mavens like Serena & Lily have tried their hand at the iconic low stool.
5 WAYS TO USE A VINTAGE X-BASE STOOL
With a utility quota that rivals a hotel luggage rack, but a sumptuously upholstered frame that renders it cocktail party-appropriate, there’s virtually nowhere that wouldn’t benefit from a vintage X-base stool. Below, we walk through five ways to work this ultra-versatile low stool into every room in the house.
If you want to turn your under-lit walk-in into a full-fledged boudoir, try adding an X-base stool. Float this low stool the center of your closet and you’ve created a lily pad-like stop-over, perfect for perching when slipping in and out of shoes or taking care of some last-minute primping. When it comes to the X-base stool itself, look for one with a slim profile (as this, after all, the closet), and give special consideration to those fabrics that feel exceptionally glamorous, like hot pink and cheetah-print velvets. Not only will they punch things up style-wise, but they’ll also hide make-up smudges and smears like a champ.
Coffee Table Conversationalist
Balancing a sofa with two accent chairs feels old hat, so freshen things up by planting two vintage X-stools across from it. Not only will low stools ensure that your sofa remains the focal point visually, but they’ll also come in handy in a the-guests-brought-guests situation that would normally have you clamoring for extra seating. To avoid any potential awkwardness, design-wise, just be sure to look for low stools that are either flush with your coffee table’s height or a few inches shorter.
Luxe in the Bath
Freestanding tubs seem like the ultimate luxury until you discover that they weren’t exactly designed with you and your product glam squad in mind. While you can opt for a wood tub caddy, a vintage X-base stool will fit the bill with stars and will also respect your personal space since it resides on the floor (a big win in our book). To do a low stool up right for the bath, look for one in a fabric that can stand up to some low-level splashing. Cowhide and mohair are both inspired options. You might also consider placing a tray on top of your low stool, as it will keep your essentials from tumbling off and will also catch excess water should you need to reach for that glass of Merlot mid-soak.
If you’ve been blessed with sunny bay windows, but no built-ins to soak in the rays, consider inserting two X-base stools into the space. Not only will these low stools elevate an out-of-the-way recess to cat nap-worthy sanctuary, but they'll also provide a prime spot for setting trays of sun-worshiping plants. When it comes to picking trays for plants, look for heavy, substantial trays with handles (FYI: bone trays work like a dream here) which will sit securely on top of your low vintage stools. As for plants, seek out relatively petite specimens so that you can load up each tray up with a good variety. Among our favorites? Aloe Vera, the Bengal Ficus (a pint-sized relative of the fiddle leaf fig), and the Rubber Plant.
Foot of the Bed Nightcap
An end-of-the-bed bench is a beautiful thing, but trying to sync up a bed and bench stylistically can be hard. Thankfully, a vintage X-stool fits just about any bed, any style, any size. For a cohesive look, opt for one in an upholstery pulled straight from your bedding. For a grand look, use two low stools (drape one with a throw and crown the other with a tray for books, carafes, or candles), but for something more understated, just use one X-stool. Offset, it will add polish and function to a bedroom, without feeling the least bit imposing.