Decorating & Entertaining Ideas

Design Icon: The Ladder-Back Chair

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With their straight backs and stately stature, these chairs look striking around a dining room table or standing tall against a wall. Read on to see different ways to bring the iconic seat into your home, whether you opt for one chair, two, or even more.

Photo by Caroline Allison

Photo by Caroline Allison

Use One Chair…

…as a focal point next to a chest of drawers or in an entryway. The ladder-back’s height and small footprint means it can make a major design statement without taking up much space.

Pro tip: Extra-tall versions are best pushed up against the wall so that they don’t disrupt the flow of your room

Crafted from thin slats, ladder-backs take up such little visual space, you can set them in front of an architectural detail like crown molding or a fireplace and they won’t block the view.

Ladder-back chairs are best juxtaposed with other periods of furniture. I have a ladder-back paired with a Danish Modern George Tanier cabinet in my living room.

— Los Angeles-based Commune Design’s Steve Johankneckt

Let a ladder-back stand in as an unexpected side table holding towels in your bathroom, books in your library, or bedside essentials in your bedroom.

Photo by John Bessler

Photo by John Bessler

Use Two Chairs…

…to flank a sideboard or a buffet, at the head and foot of your table, or tucked into a breakfast nook. Remember: There’s power in pairs. Symmetry is the quickest way to a cohesive, pulled-together look in any space.

In your dining room, dual ladder-backs look regal against the wall—and give you an extra set of chairs to pull in in a pinch.

Photo by William Waldron

Photo by William Waldron

If your entryway is large enough, consider matching chairs on either side of the entrance. The seats’ tall, lean lines mirror those of the door, and they’ll give you a spot to perch when slipping shoes on or off.

Photo by Lesley Unruh

Photo by Lesley Unruh

Use Four or More Chairs…

…around your dining table. Let them encircle your  table, opt for pairs on each side with a different style (wingbacks, maybe?) at the head and the foot, or line them up along one edge for a look that’s style-forward but functional.

Modern reinterpretations of the chair work well in unconventional seating arrangements and perfectly complement other streamlined furniture.

Sometimes less is more: A full set of simple wood ladder-backs looks effortlessly cool when tucked into a rustic table and riffing off other woods in a boho room.

Shop Ladder-back Chairs >

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