Wednesday, April 15, 2009

Lounge Essentials: The Club Chair

by Effervescent

The Club Chair. What is it and why is it a Lounge Essential? Let us turn to the dictionary. The Club Chair: a heavily upholstered easy chair with arms and a low back. Uhh...ok...let us turn away from the dictionary.

The Club Chair: the ample seat, first created for the exclusive use in upper crust gentlemen's clubs of the 1850’s. In a time of empire building, robber barons, and the liberal consumption of scotch “thinking oil”. That’s more like it.

The club chair continues its' role in modern New York’s private social clubs, utilizing dark woods, and sturdy leather for the upholstery. Elegantly simple, club chairs can be quickly rearranged to create conversation or to settle around the backgammon table. In fact, the club chair has begun to move beyond such hallowed halls and is finding its way into cigar bars, lounges, and home libraries.

Cost of ownership? In no uncertain terms: big bucks. A premium natural-grain, hand-rubbed leather club chair combines high end materials with skilled artisan-hours. They require as many as five leather hides, a team of upholsterers, and a full week of bench labor to complete. Pricing starts just shy of two grand dollars and continue up past $10,000.

Distressed leather versions feature a durable surface that requires very little maintenance; good for a couple with … say…twins. Full aniline leather (my personal preference) feature a buttery soft "hand" and are of the highest caliber, but predictably delicate. Because larger hides sans blemishes are relatively rare, leather piecework from less expensive hides cut costs in lower end chairs. Bottom-line? You gotta count the seams: the more seams, the greater the chance of lower quality.

Additional features to look for include suede or mohair trim, curved maple legs, carved detailing of the wood, and chairs studded with antiqued brass nailheads following the grooves of its solid wood frame. The Dunhill model (featured in my own Manhattan pied-à-terre) features eight-way hand-tied seat springing. This helps ensure that satisfying club chair “sink”. As God intended.

Going vintage brings its own issue: beware for older leather may crack or peel. Then there’s the busted springs. Once it gets to that stage, it's difficult to repair.

Word on the street is our own beloved Fredo is “in the market” for his Home Bar, the Red Room, and weighing his options as well. To get headed in the right direction, allow me to point you in the direction of the following links:

Tas de bois

Stocks and Chairs Antiques

George Smith

Crate and Barrel

Neiman Marcus


  1. C'est fantastique!

  2. After all most outdoors would look bare without outdoor lounge chair.

  3. The devil just made me purchase a specimen from the 1880's. Sporting velvet mohair, natch.