Furniture Leg Styles You Need to Know

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Furniture leg styles can vary drastically across furniture pieces. It depends on factors like the origin of the furniture, the era it was made in, modifications or refurbishments that may have been done to it, and more. You can search for “furniture repair near me” and hire pros to fix a piece of broken furniture for you. Let’s check out furniture leg styles you should know.

The Styles

1. Flemish scroll leg – As the name suggests, this leg style mimics the end of scrolls at the top and bottom. It’s a carved leg style that has spirals going in opposite directions and was developed back in the 17th century. This furniture leg style was dominant in late Baroque furniture styles like those from William and Mary and Restoration style.

If you’re a geek about the furniture of the British royal family, you’ll also know that this leg style was often featured in specially designed pieces for King Charles II by Gerrit Jensen. However, nowadays this leg style is rarely seen in modern furniture and often acts as an identification feature for antique pieces. This leg style is also known as the S-scroll leg and double scroll leg for obvious reasons.

2. Cabriole leg – The Cabriole leg style refers to a furniture leg with its “knee” curving out and the “ankle” curving inward to make a beautiful ornamental leg style. The “knee” is the part where the leg connects to the rest of the furniture while the “ankle” connects to the foot. This leg style was quite popular among Chippendale furniture styles and Queen Anne furniture styles.

Antique furniture with that signature often has this leg style. On the other hand, reproduction pieces would have a combination of all kinds of leg and foot styles. A prominent characteristic of this leg style is that whenever it was used with authentic Chippendale pieces, it terminated with a ball and claw foot. On the other hand, the pad foot was more common with Queen Anne pieces. However, there are exceptions where this leg was used with other combinations of foot styles. 

3. Fluted leg – A fluted leg has quite significant characteristics and it’s impossible to confuse it with other leg styles. The leg has distinct grooves or rounded channels running vertically along the leg at regular intervals. This leg style was modeled after Greek columns and was very popular during the latter part of the 18th century.

If you have a Neoclassical style furniture piece from that era like the Hepplewhite or Classical revival styles, it’s highly likely that the furniture piece uses fluted legs. The only leg style that is similar to the fluted leg style is the reeded leg that uses concave channels or grooves.

4. Reeded leg – As mentioned above, the reeded leg is the only furniture leg style that looks similar to the fluted leg. This leg style also has channels carved vertically along the leg at regular intervals. However, those channels appear as if they are coming out of the leg instead of looking like grooves carved into the leg. This style is also inspired by Roman and Greek motifs and flourished during the same period as fluted legs.

That means this leg style is very common in Empire, Regency, and Neoclassical styles from the mid-18th century to the early 19th century. They were very prominent in Sheraton designs and their popularity exceeded fluted legs with the turn of the 19th century.

5. Marlborough leg – There are very few furniture leg styles that are as simple as the Marlborough leg. It’s square, straight, and substantial enough to appear plain and very simple at a glance. However, it breaks away from simplicity with its fluted carving. Usually, the Marlborough leg ends in a block foot. However, it’s not rare to find pieces with this leg ending as its own extension and footless.   

The Marlborough leg also has many variations with some being more tapered than the rest and others having extra bulk at the top. These legs were very common on either side of the pond in both England and America during the latter half of the 18th century. They were especially common in utilitarian furniture pieces like chairs, sofas, and beds.

6. Saber leg – This leg style is a bit splayed with the leg flaring outward in a concave shape. It mimics the look of a curved sword or saber and can be found to be squared, rounded, or carved in a gradually tapering manner. They are very common in stools, sofas, and chairs and have been in existence for millennia. You’ll find this style in ancient Greek klismos chairs, on 18th-century Sheraton and Regency pieces, and even in modern chairs. However, this style is a bit modified when used on modern pieces and usually comes in a slimmer and narrower profile.

7. Spider leg – Spider legs are thin, delicate, and usually extend below a round tabletop or stool to terminate in three or four feet. Sometimes, this leg style also ends without feet. This leg style was mainly used in the 18th and early 19th centuries on light portable furniture pieces like tea tables, candle stands, and stools.

Usually, spider legs were thick when used for light, yet large pieces like tabletops. However, sometimes this leg style also came in slimmer and straighter profiles when used for gatefold tables and other smaller pieces. They acted as thin supports that enabled the table to swing out and expand without a lot of hassle. This slimmer spider leg also had some variations and would usually end in pad feet. In recent times, this leg style has gained renewed popularity. 

Conclusion

From the elegant, fluted leg to the exquisite and antiquated Flemish scroll leg, furniture leg styles come in all sorts of variety, and you need to know about them if you plan to repair or modify them. Instead, it’s always better to just let professionals handle such complex work. You can do the same by searching for “furniture repair near me”.