Pricewise: Bow-Back Windsor Side Chairs
Two models share the same spirit while parting ways on style, manufacture,
Popular among American Revolutionaries, the Windsor remains an emblem of democratic taste, with versions to fit every dining room and budget. But not all are made the same way or even with the same proportions. Before deciding which Windsor deserves a place at your table, take a look at one that's handmade in Missouri (and expensive to ship) and its plainer, low-cost cousin, which you may be able to pick up at the store.
The Windsor Chair Shop's New York City Side Chair
Dimensions: 32"W by 17¾"D by 17½"H
Weight: 10 pounds
Is it for you?
If you want a handmade, heirloom-worthy chair that looks like an antique.
About $500; thewindsorchairshop.net
Coats of traditional red and black milk paint followed by antiquing with a sanding pad, a linseed oil rubdown, and furniture wax. Occasional rewaxing is recommended.
As with many originals, the seat is white pine; the bow back and spindles, red oak; and the legs and stretchers, hard maple. The spindles taper slightly; two form a brace in back with a tailpiece. The legs are well turned and have a pleasing rake, or flare. Custom made with hand-drilled holes and dowels; takes months for an order.
The nicely shaped shield seat is a natural fit, and the back offers plenty of support. By today's standards, this sturdy little chair has a petite profile.
Pottery Barn Windsor Side Chair
Dimensions: 41½"W by 23"D by 22"H
Weight: 15 pounds
Is it for you?
If you want a simpler, wider, more casual take on a classic design.
About $199; potterybarn.com
After being stained and glazed, the chair is sealed with a lacquer that protects it from moisture and stains.
Made of mahogany and held together with dowels and glue. The legs and stretchers have traditional bulbous styling but are less refined. The legs' rake is also less dramatic and the bow back less taut.
While less traditional, its larger proportions may better suit some people. The seat is winder, higher, and less deftly contoured.