What is a Farthingale Chair?

A Farthingale Chair is a type of chair with a wide seat and usually no armrests, designed to accommodate the wide skirts of women's dresses in the 16th to 17th centuries.


The Farthingale Chair is a fascinating piece of furniture that serves as a window into the fashion and interior design of the Renaissance period. Originating in the 16th century, this chair was specially designed to accommodate the farthingale, a hoop skirt worn by women to give their dresses a wide, voluminous shape. Unlike typical chairs that had narrow seats or armrests, the Farthingale Chair featured a wide, often rectangular or octagonal, seat with no armrests, allowing women to sit comfortably without compressing their elaborate dresses.

The design of these chairs not only reflects the sartorial demands of the time but also showcases the intricate craftsmanship and attention to aesthetic detail prevalent in the period. Typically made of wood, these chairs were often elaborately carved and ornamented, featuring motifs and patterns that were popular during the Renaissance. While originally designed for a practical purpose, Farthingale Chairs have become collector's items for those interested in historical furniture.

In the context of modern interior design, Farthingale Chairs can add a distinct historical element to a room. They are often used as accent chairs in living rooms, libraries, or studying spaces, where they can serve both a decorative and functional purpose. Their unique design and historical significance make them a conversation starter and a testament to the evolution of furniture design through the ages.


In a contemporary setting, a Farthingale Chair can be used as an accent piece in a room, adding a touch of historical elegance and showcasing the owner's appreciation for Renaissance furniture design. These chairs are commonly found in curated antique collections, historical homes, and museums, where they exemplify the intersection of fashion, function, and design.


  • Can a Farthingale Chair be used for regular seating?

    Yes, although originally designed for a specific purpose, Farthingale Chairs can be used as regular seating. However, their unique shape and historical value often make them more suitable as decorative pieces.

  • How can I identify a Farthingale Chair?

    A Farthingale Chair can be identified by its wide seat with no armrests, often shaped in a rectangular or octagonal form. It may also feature elaborate wood carvings and ornamentation typical of Renaissance design.

  • Are Farthingale Chairs comfortable?

    The comfort of a Farthingale Chair can vary depending on its design and the cushioning used. While they were designed to accommodate voluminous skirts rather than for ergonomic seating, many find them comfortable enough for occasional use.

Practical Application

For those looking to incorporate a Farthingale Chair into their home, consider using it as an accent piece in a space that features other historical or antique elements. It can beautifully complement a room designed with elements from the Renaissance or Baroque periods, offering both aesthetic appeal and a nod to historical design. When integrating such a distinctive piece of furniture, ensure it doesn't conflict with the overall design theme of the room.