A Buyer’s Guide to Amish Dining ChairsBy Holly Rennels · October 1, 2016
Buying Amish Handmade Kitchen Chairs
Learn the anatomy of a dining chair and the details that alter style and functionality. Countryside is here to help you make the right decision for your room, table, and family. We look forward to welcoming you to our family of customers.
Some elements are present in each and every chair we offer at Countryside:
- Solid wood construction - only the heavy hanger bolts, kreg screws, glides, and upholstery in your chair are not premium American hardwood. Your chair will be free of veneers, particle board, and fillers.
- Comfort formed seat - all our wooden seats feature a scoop for comfort which causes the seat thickness to vary slightly, but all are at least 1" thick.
- Poured foam seat - all our leather and fabric upholstery is hand stretched over the longest lasting cushioning on the market. All our leather is full grain and all our fabrics are premium. No better upholstery is available than what we use.
- Mortise and tenon joinery - pictured below, this joint is used at every point of attachment and is reinforced with screws and glue as appropriate to ensure your chair lasts a lifetime.
All our chairs also feature reinforced attachments like the corner blocking used here:
Mission Style Dining Chairs
In pure Mission style, a kitchen chair is sturdy, straight, and strong. Our Parron Mission Chair is an excellent example of this style. Rails and aprons are simple and a slight arch is all the adornment these receive. Mission rails sometimes have multiple slats, but in this chair, a solid splat is formed instead. When a base stretcher is employed, some of the tension of weight bearing is distributed throughout the chair. The square leg is a Mission design element that keeps this chair true to the style.
Shaker Kitchen Chairs
Shaker style is typically very simple. When adding a Contemporary two-tone, two-wood finish, however, our classic Shaker Aragon Fan Back Chair is both chic and simple. The broad top rail in this chair is Elm in Burnished Honey stain leading down to the fan back. Slats of the back and all darker pieces of this chair are Brown Maple. The steam bent slats are curved for superior lumbar support.When buying chairs, note if the description indicates period correct construction or lumbar support. Period correct pieces will have a straight back. The trademark detail of Shaker style is the splayed or saber leg. This curving identifier, juxtaposed against a straight apron, catches the eye and assists in ecclectic design. When table and chair legs complement each other, you have a winning combination.
Classic Side and Arm Chairs
At Countryside, we use our Classic Dining Chair category quite broadly. Traditional, Early American, and even some Old World dining chairs land here. Our Amesburg Upholstered Chair is an excellent example. This piece is fully upholstered in black leather. The wooden frame is Brown Maple and the stile ends in a saber leg. The distinctive characteristic of many of our Classic dining chairs is the turned leg. Using a lathe, these beautiful works of art are handmade with the precision and artistry for which our Amish craftsmen are known. Dimensions of an arm chair typically account for the distance from the outer edges of each arm. Sitting space will typically be what is measured for the side chair.
Queen Anne Dining Chairs
Queen Anne Style has traditionally meant ornate, made of Cherry, and stained dark with a hint of red. Countryside's Channing Dining Chair certainly fits that description and is pictured with a fabric upholstered seat. The cresting top rail is quite detailed and the ear is handcrafted to join properly with the rest of the stile. Frequently the entire chair back is carved as a single piece. The elaborate back splat fits into the shoe which is part of the seat structure. A scalloped apron is common in Victorian, Queen Anne, and French Country chairs as are the front cabriole shaped legs and pad feet. A bonus feature of the Regal's front legs is a reeded design that further elevates this formal dining chair.
Contemporary Kitchen Chairs
Another example of modern Shaker style is our Waterbury Dining Chair . Shown in two-tone and two woods, this chair is an excellent example of our Contemporary Dining Chairs. A little more petite with fewer parts to connect, our Contemporary chairs are typically quite simple and elegant. The back features a waving detail that makes it truly Contemporary. This chair pairs nicely with Shaker or modern style dining tables.
French Country Chairs
French Country Style embodies both the simple pastoral French influence and the over the top Louis Phillipe style of furniture. Here our Westminster Dining Chair features a French Country take on a ladder back chair employing the cresting rail common to Queen Anne dining chairs. Cabriole legs and a scrolling apron add to the charm of this solid wood chair which also features a base stretcher. Pictured here is a rush seat which is a woven grass seat that is making a come back. Not every chair has a rush seat available, but the life expectancy of this type of seat is roughly 20-30 years. Our solid wood chairs, however, are built to become heirlooms and should last for several lifetimes.
Arts and Crafts Dining Chairs
Arts and Crafts or Craftsman style furniture is as varied as any style. Here at Countryside, it is closely related to Mission, Shaker, and Contemporary styles with simple lines and clean presentation. The fundamental difference is the common use of geometric cut outs, Quartersawn White Oak, and extremely structured design. Our Eastwood Arts and Crafts Dining Chair perfectly embodies a pure example of this style.
The next section of chairs will be discussed in terms of structural elements.
Ladder Back Chairs
Our Early American Colonist Ladder Back Chair is a period perfect replica of the common Shaker ladder back chair. These chairs are often tall and narrow and work very well in kitchens or restaurants. Note that any painted dining room chair you see in Countryside's online gallery will likely be in Brown Maple. This wood is smooth and is the best option for painting.
Bow Back Chairs
Bow back chairs may fit into a number of style categories, but the common trait is the steam bent bow of the back. Our Magnussen Dining Chair, for instance, has a carved Queen Anne back splat, a smooth Contemporary base, and spindles in the bow back which is typically Classic or Traditional. These chairs are extremely versatile, but the stile is, obviously, not continuous. Most bow back chairs will feature a stretcher base for durability. Paddle back chairs, dowel back chairs, arrow back chairs, and feather back chairs are all bow back chairs. High and low versions of these types merely indicate the height of the chair back. Further, you will find "bent" in front of many chairs which means the paddles, arrows, or feathers have been steam bent to provide lumbar support. If that is not in the name, the chair is probably very straight and period correct.
Windsor Chairs are a very specific type of bow back chair. Our Philadelphia Windsor Dining Chair is period perfect and demonstrates the steam bent midrail that continues through the arm. Colonial era furnishings frequently use this element. Spindles in the bow back and turned legs in the base further the Early American theme. Arrow feet that nearly come to a point complete this solid wood replication.
Sheaf Back Kitchen Chairs
Sheaf back chairs are very Traditional kitchen and dining chairs. The spindles in the back of the chair are steam bent and appear to be wrapped in a piece of wood to resemble bundled wheat. Our Wakefield Sheaf Back Dining Chairs also features Early American finials on the top of the stiles, which are not continuous.
Press Back Chairs
Press Back Chairs are typically Traditional, Early American chairs that feature a pressed image on the top rail. Pictured above is a wheat press back. This image is actually a pressing from a steel plate and not a carving, hence the name.
Other categories of our chairs are continuing to grow. Period correct cage and comb back chairs, for instance are being introduced in Countryside's online gallery. Folding chairs are also a new offering that takes our favorite chairs and makes them easier to store. If you have a chair you would like us to make into a folding chair, we can often accomodate. We are constantly adding new products to our dining and kitchen chair lines, so check back with us frequently to see what's new at Countryside Amish Furniture.