Classic & Comfy: Bentwood Chairs in the Kitchen

updated May 2, 2019
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(Image credit: Apartment Therapy)

Comfy? Those spindly things? You may beg to differ, but we think they are. The design is famous—all the modern versions take their inspiration from the original, Michael Thonet’s chair No. 14—and if you’ve ever sat on one, you’re probably surprised at how forgiving and generous it feels. So yes, classic, comfy, and one more C: cheap. These days, bentwood chairs are pretty affordable.

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If you want to learn more about the history of the Thonet chair and the legion of imitators it inspired, check out these two posts from Apartment Therapy:

• Retrospect: The Bentwood Chairs of Gebrüder Thonet
Design Classic: Thonet Bentwood Chair No. 14

Bentwood chairs are perfect for a kitchen. First of all, they were originally bistro chairs, so they give you a familiar, sit-down-for-a-meal vibe. Plus, they have a small footprint and a simple silhouette, which helps them fit in easily in a small space. You can add cushions to bring in some color and softness, too.

Here are five kitchens where they shine:
• 1. Sara Ruffin Costello’s Blue and White Kitchen, from the Domino Book of Decorating (photo via design*sponge).
• 2. Curly-Cue Chairs and a Modern Table, from designer Tom Scheerer (click on the de Givenchy residence).
• 3. Striped Cushions in a Green Kitchen, from Elle Decor.
• 4. Spare and Sleek, from Elle Decor.
• 5. Crisp White against Navy Walls, from Little Green Notebook.

As for buying some… plenty of big stores like Pottery Barn and Crate & Barrel sell Thonet knockoffs. And generic, affordable bentwood chairs are all over Craigslist. We also love these new versions at the Conran shop; they come in bright red and electric lime green.
Bentwood Chair, $150 at Conran.

And here’s one more source we’ve been eyeing:
Bentwood Chair with Hairpin Back, $96 at K. Petersen.

Anyone have a great source?

Related: French Bistro Style Brought Home

(Images: Paul Costello; Eric Boman; Pieter Estersohn; William Abranowicz; Melanie of Plum Cushion)