One thing I get asked about a lot is mixing chair leg shapes and sizes when creating an eclectic interior drawing from multiple times and styles.  Of course at Versailles there was rarely any mixing of periods or styles or leg types.  Louis XIV had Louis XIV furniture, and it all got put into storage once Louis XV showed up.

However, many less royal homes throughout history have mixed furniture styles and merely added touches the latest fashions to their homes rather than getting rid of things.  Maybe one room was redone in the latest style, or a few new pieces mixed into an existing space.

This was often the case in English manor houses where the furniture was considered part of the estate to be preserved and passed down to future generations.  Downton fans, notice this is very much the case on set.  The dining room is great example with a Neoclassical dining table and chairs in a room with very Renaissance Revival sideboards and fireplace.

downton abbey dining room


With the mixing of styles almost inevitably comes the mixing of chair, sofa and table legs in form, size, bulk, and decoration.  These are things that when done well, can contribute to a collected feel.  But remember, if the chairs and sofas are all vastly different styles, there needs to be something linking the pieces together (like color, seat heights or texture).

Of course closely coordinating leg styles is a great way to bring unity to a space if there are lots of other design elements going on.  Here are two different concept boards done for a client of mine a few years back.  The architecture in the space was already fairly ornate Victorian, and we had quite a bit of pattern, color and accessories going in.  I chose similar (but not matching) leg styles on the sofa and chairs to keep some consistency.

interior design concept board red ornage christa pirl

black and white interior design living scheme christa pirl


But there is no reason to be overly concerned about matching leg styles, especially when the interior is more clean and minimal.  There is a lot to be said for varying them, especially if you have lots of chairs in one space.  I hate when a living room has endless versions of exactly the same leg, how boring!  In this scheme for another client we made sure to vary the height of the legs throughout since we had a very open space with two living areas, barstools and dining space that could all be taken in at glance.  The client also wanted a soothing, fairly monochromatic color scheme, so variation in style of seating and legs was important to keep everything from feeling too vanilla.


Here was the original concept board-

gray eclectic living room scheme christa pirl interiors


And here were the final seating selections with varying amounts of leg showing on each piece from none at all on the swivel lounge chairs to quite leggy dining chairs and mid-century informal loungers.  If both the sofa and loveseat were showing almost no leg, together with the swivel lounge chairs, the main living space would feel very grounded and too heavy.  It would also feel like two different spaces if the dining chairs and informal mid-century chairs in the kitchen area (shown on the left) were the only pieces showing any leg.

chair sofa selections christa pirl interiors

Here is how it all turned out, together with some dynamite antique tables the owner inherited, and some simple accessorizing.  There is nice variation throughout, unifying the space and adding interest without feeling messy-

christa pirl interiors living room space detail

christa pirl interiors living room space dining

christa pirl interiors living room space eclectic

christa pirl interiors living room space seating

christa pirl interiors living room space


Lovely project photos courtesy of Michalene Homme.


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