What is Chippendale Furniture?

Chippendale furniture emerged in 18th-century Europe. The style is a blend of Rococo, Chinese, and Gothic design elements. Intricate back splats, cabriole legs, and ball-and-claw feet are some of the telltale features of this artisanal furniture.

Designers still hold the Chippendale style in high regard. They keep the aesthetic alive by incorporating its distinct elements into up-and-coming furniture trends, seamlessly connecting the past to the present.

Keep reading to learn about Chippendale’s rich history, its defining characteristics, and how to make our Chippendale-inspired collection stand out in your outdoor space.

Chippendale Furniture History

Photo Credit: The Met

Chippendale designs originated in Europe during the mid-1700s. The style came from the heart and hands of Thomas Chippendale, the famous London cabinetmaker, and marks the first time in history that a furniture style was named after the manufacturer. Up until this point, all designs took on the names of royalty. For example, Louis XV and Queen Anne style furniture both emerged mere decades before Chippendale’s arrival. 

Soon after his signature style gained popularity, the renowned designer compiled and published his work in The Gentleman and Cabinet-Maker’s Director, an influential pattern catalog filled with detailed illustrations of his furniture designs.

Chippendale Furniture Characteristics

Identifying Chippendale furniture isn’t so hard once you know what to look for. Rococo, Chinese, and Gothic designs heavily influence the aesthetic. Traditional chairs have broad-seated frames built from mahogany or cherry wood and feature cabriole legs, ball-and-claw feet, and wide upholstered seats (with silk as the chosen fabric). Intricate back details and yoked-shaped curves on the top railings are also prominent features.  

Always in season and forever in fashion, this popular design style is loved by homeowners and design pros all over the world because of its elegance and adaptability.

When creating the POLYWOOD Chippendale Collection, our talented designers opted for a modernized look. While still holding true to a traditional lattice back design, we edited the original cabriole-style legs and curved top railing in cleaner lines. Instead of hardwood, our furniture frames are constructed of genuine POLYWOOD lumber, an outdoor-ready material that looks like real wood minus the maintenance.

How to Style Chippendale Furniture in Your Outdoor Space

POLYWOOD Chippendale Dining Arm Chair & Long Island 18" Side Table in Teak
Featured: Chippendale Dining Arm Chair and Long Island 18″ Side Table in Teak

Our Chippendale Collection offers subtle sophistication that fits any outdoor setting. Here’s how to seamlessly incorporate our designs into your home.

Mix in Modern Touches

While Chippendale pieces are popular in more traditional settings, they also play well with modern styles. In your dining area, try pairing Chippendale chairs with a sleek dining table. Or match a classic glider with modern deep seating pieces—a fresh take on a relaxing space.

Bold Colors and Prints

Prints pair nicely with Chippendale style. When choosing fabrics, textiles, and color palettes, pick prints with deep colors or strong patterns that complement the furniture’s design. However, we recommend opting for one or the other—using both bold hues and busy patterns may overpower the space. 

Less is More

Since the Chippendale furniture style already lends plenty of character and elegance to a room, we recommend sticking to one or two seating types and supporting the look with understated pieces. For example, place a Chippendale bench and a pair of garden chairs on a solid-color outdoor rug and fill in blank spaces with simple accent tables and minimal decor.

POLYWOOD Chippendale 48" Glider & Chippendale Garden Arm Chair in Teak.
Featured: Chippendale 48″ Glider and Chippendale Garden Arm Chair in Teak.


How can you tell if a piece of furniture is Chippendale?

You can tell if a piece of furniture is traditional Chippendale style if it has several of the following features:  

  • Ball-and-claw feet
  • Cabriole legs
  • Silk upholstery
  • Mahogany frame
  • Ornate back splat
  • Yoked top railing
  • Pointed arches

What era is Chippendale furniture from?

This furniture style gained popularity in the 18th century when London cabinetmaker Thomas Chippendale introduced his designs in Europe. 

Is Chippendale furniture still in style?

Chippendale furniture is still popular thanks to its versatility. Professional interior designers and furniture makers continue to celebrate this historic style, either keeping with tradition or finding new ways to interpret it. You still see those dark wooden pieces with tufted detailing and elaborately carved frames, but others mix in contemporary influences, often exchanging the overly ornate for straight-lined elements.

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