Looking at the legs and feet on furniture can be a huge help when you are searching. Whether you’re interested in antiques or modern pieces which use elements of the past, understanding a bit about their layout history may give you some excess confidence in your alternative. A wonderful place to start is at the base, since the shape of legs and feet on furniture can supply you with plenty of context.
Here are seven common fashions you might have admired already or have yet to discover.
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The saber leg. Modeled after a cavalry saber (sword), this furniture leg was used by early Greeks and Romans. It was seen on the klismos chair — much like the ones in this photo.
front legs of this saber curve forwards; the back legs curve behind the seat. These finely appointed legs became popular among early-19th-century regency and empire seats, stools and sofas.
The leather-upholstered, timber-framed klismos chairs in this shooter have subtle saber legs, letting them work nicely with the other modern pieces in the room.
The reeded leg. Like the saber leg, the reeded leg has its roots in ancient Greek and Roman motifs. Around the turn of the 19th century, this style became popular in regency and empire furniture, particularly the Sheraton fashions.
The reeded leg has carved rounded grooves, with narrow channels which separate each reed. These convex moldings stand out from the surface.
This desk, paired with a contemporary Eames seat, shows us exactly why the reeded leg layout has stood the test of time.
Alexander Johnson Photography
The fluted leg. Modeled on ancient Greek columns, the fluted leg has concave — instead of convex — perpendicular channels carved into the leg, unlike the reeded leg. Neoclassical furniture designs from the late 18th century used the fluted leg to great effect.
This hot-pink upholstered Louis XVI–style seat with its feminine fluted legs suits the mirrored dresser perfectly.
The trumpet leg. The trumpet leg as the name suggests, looks like an upside down trumpet. King William III — who ruled England during the late 1600s with Queen Mary II — frequently employed craftsmen from his native Holland, who created more decorative and fancy designs than the prior Gothic styles.
This furniture leg is generally around the thick side, and can have lots of curves. Flaring upward and then outward by a thin base, this leg can be capped with a dome. The foot might be a chunk or a Spanish foot (a flared foot ending in a scroll).
This magnificent highboy dresser shows off amazing trumpet legs.
House Dressing Interiors, LLC
The cabriole leg. Originating in Italy from the early 18th century, the cabriole leg bends out at the knee and inward at the ankle. Inspired by a leaping goat’s back leg, this tasteful S shape provides great support to bigger pieces of furniture.
The cabriole leg may have a paw, scroll, club, or claw and ball foot, which you see a lot on Chippendale furniture. The knee may also have a decorative carving of a shell or lion.
Debra Campbell Design
The elephant trunk leg. The elephant trunk leg, also known as the banana leg, also originated during the Ming Dynasty. It is often found on low pieces like the Chinese kang table. The elephant back leg tends to be rather thick; it bends out from the top and then bends back into the leg.
The Chinese kang table within this traditional sitting area shows off fine examples of this elephant truck leg.
Tiffany Farha Design
The Flemish scroll leg. This late-baroque-era style of furniture leg was developed at the next part of this 17th century. The Flemish scroll leg could be distinguished by a carved C or S shape at the top. Furniture from this period will be thick and dark, with intricate carvings.
These dining chairs, with their Flemish scroll bottoms and matching arm pliers, help to create a warm and inviting dining area.
More: Give Your Furniture a Leg Up