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What Is a Club Chair?

Club chairs, also known as smoking chairs, are leather armchairs often found in traditional-styled homes. They are associated with class and luxury – and even carry a little bit of history. Incorporating one into your home is a great way to elevate the look and feel of your space. Here’s all about club chairs and how to style one in your home!

History of the Club Chair

Before the 18th century, most chairs were made with one simple idea in mind: to provide a sturdy place to sit. Comfort, lounging and style was not a major concern before the 1700s, that is, until the turn of the century rolled around. The idea that chairs didn’t have to be purely practical became more and more popular. Furniture-makers began infusing them with padding along the backs, seats and armrests. Things like upholstered seating began to dominate; with the rise of the recently-invented Chesterfield sofa, leather was on everyone’s minds. Even the seats themselves became deeper and the backrests lower and more comfortable. It was a radical new idea: the idea that a chair could be designed for sitting back and relaxing. (Up until this point, the chair was more of a tool than anything else – where you sat for meals, or to write a letter, or to perch as you put on your shoes.)

Slowly and increasingly, furniture-makers realized that a chair could be marketed as a luxury item in and of itself. Towards the nineteenth century in Britain, almost every well-to-do household had rooms – that weren’t the bedroom – designated for the purposes of evening relaxing, complete with what we know today as the club chair. There was also the notion of the sports club or lounge club (what today would be similar to a country club), where gentlemen would go for a drink and to network – a major hub for club chairs.

Today, club chairs are popular in traditional-style homes and businesses; their centuries-old roots associate them with class and luxury.

What Is a Club Chair?

As for the look of the chair itself, there’s not a distinct answer. Almost always, club chairs are upholstered in leather. (The classic aesthetic is usually a dark brown hide.) They feature wide armrests, low backs and lots of padding. Sizes and types of armrests, padding and backrest design can differ. Some designs are larger than others. Some armrests are wider than others. Some padding is thicker and made of different types of foam or cushioning than others. Some backrests are wider or more curved and tufted than others. In all the variations, though, the finish is smooth and soft, the overall feel is luxurious and designed for lounging.

While club chairs were once almost exclusively for gentlemen who smoked, drank and gathered in “gentleman’s clubs” (note: a “gentleman’s club,” back then, was a sort of country club for networking and sports-related conversations – not what the term associates with today!), the modern club chair doesn’t discriminate; in today’s homes, they make the perfect design for men and women alike! In the home, a club chair fits right into a home study or library – in smaller spaces, try a reading nook or office space. Style with it an end table to perch a drink (in the old days, a club chair was synonymous with sitting down to smoke a cigar and/or nurse a glass of hard alcohol!) or a book. Keep the surrounding decorations in dark, rich colors and materials to match – the traditional style really brings out the historical feel of a club chair.

Club Chair Inspiration

— Chair Guides —

Club Chairs, Smoking Chairs and Classic Armchairs

Editorial Disclaimer: Articles featuring tips and advice are intended for educational purposes and only as general recommendations. Always practice personal discretion when using and caring for furniture, decor and related items.