The Enduringly Classic Furniture Style That Works in Any Space

June 21, 2016

From the history of Shaker style to classic Scandinavian design, the understated frame and slim wooden rods of the spindle-back benches and chairs have graced most every imaginable setting dating back to the beginning of interior design. Its quiet durability and extreme versatility belie a rich history.

Photo by Mark Weinberg

If you haven’t given the spindle-back the consideration it deserves, here are a few of its most captivating qualities plus how you can incorporate them into your own home.

You can use them both indoors and out.

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Even if you have trouble sticking with your interior design decisions, investing in a spindle-back bench will never be a bad call: Just because it’s stationary doesn’t mean you have to keep it in one place. When the weather turns warmer, a spindle-back bench makes the perfect seating solution to your front porch or backyard patio. Its wooden frame (when varnished correctly) is made to withstand the outdoor elements, as opposed to cushioned seating that requires rushing indoors at the first sign of a sprinkle.

And when the temperature cools down, the bench is the perfect way to elevate your entryway. Its slim frame allows more room for shoe storage below, and the airy design won't clutter even a narrow hall.

They create interest around a dining room table.

If your dining table is square, placing a spindle-back bench on each side will maximize seating and lend a unique look that's both rustic and refined. For rectangular tables, style your benches with chairs that match on each shorter side to give your next dinner party an interesting do-over.

They will stand the test of time.

If you’re questioning whether or not your spindle-back will last, just take a look back on how much the style has already been through. In both construction and aesthetic, its humble linear frame has proven timelessly relevant (and that it’s here to stay).

Lounge Arm Chair, Wohl Table by George Nakashima. #GeorgeNakashima #innen

A photo posted by 인엔 (@innen_seoul) on

They play nice with others.

With such an unfussy frame, the spindle-back bench is the perfect starting point to begin building your space. You can pair it with more elaborate pieces, like those in the American Empire style, or even curvier Art Nouveau or contemporary furniture. It goes from classic to eclectic with ease.

⠀ #woodaddict #GeorgeNakashima 취향 저격 탕탕 빵야빵야 🔫🔫

A photo posted by nyc ッ (@mercibeaucouppp) on

They’re cozy but structured all at once.

Beyond form or function, there’s something about spindle-back benches that conveys a sense of nostalgia. Even if it’s not an antique, the natural wood and utilitarian design can lend a room structure while simultaneously keeping it cozy.

Welcome 2014! Starting the year off with maximum calm in a London townhouse today on RM.

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If you want to take the sentimental feeling even further, try adorning the seat of your bench with a patchworked pillow, or throw a hand-woven blanket along the back.

See what other Food52 readers are saying.

  • amysarah
  • Alix
Jessica is a Los Angeles based designer and art director whose work aims to balance subtlety, grace, and quiet sophistication. She founded her design studio in 2012, which specializes in refined visuals for emerging lifestyle brands. Building off of her formal interior design training, Jessica imparts her eye for detail and appreciation for simplicity into all facets of her work, including The Elysian Edit, which she launched in 2016 as a way of showcasing the people, places and practices she finds inspiring.


amysarah June 21, 2016
Worth noting that examples of vintage Nakashima, etc. are great style inspiration (definitely on my wish list!) but spindle backs are also a classic that translates well to more accessible price points/availability. There are some pretty good ones on the market from Room & Board, Crate & Barrel, among others.
Alix June 25, 2016
I just bought Design within Reach's Salt Chair. Love it!