Know Your Furniture: Fauteuil


Pronounced “foe TUR”, a fauteuil is a style of open-arm chair with a primarily exposed wooden frame originating in France in the late 17th century.

A fauteuil is made of wood, and frequently with carved relief ornament. It is typically upholstered on the seat, the seat back and on the arms (manchettes). Some fauteuils have a valenced front seat rail which is padding that extends slightly over the apron. The exposed wooden elements are often gilded or otherwise painted.

A  fauteuil chair is an armchair with open sections under the arms as many dining chairs have. Fauteuil chairs are not often sold in sets as dining chairs since they are antiques that date back to late 17th-century France. A fauteuil chair is typically used as an accent or desk chair. Woods used for fauteuil chairs include mahogany, walnut and cherry.

Fauteuil armchairs are mostly made of wood, but the backrest and seat feature padded upholstery. A distinctive touch of the fauteuil armchair style is the small padded cloth armrest on the center top of each chair arm. The upholstered seat and backrest are framed by the chair’s wood, which is always carved in some way. The top peak of a fauteuil chair back may be ornately carved with swirls and scallops. The wood on fauteuil armchairs may be polished or gilded, which means accented with metallic gold paint.

Although most fauteuil chairs have square seats and back rests with rounded edges, a fauteuil chair design may also feature an oval back and stylized arms. A typical fauteuil chair is extremely detailed and some have small bronzed tacks or nails that create a studded border between the chair’s wood and upholstery. Victorian floral patterned fabric is commonly found on fauteuil armchairs, although neutral fabrics are also sometimes used. Solid beige or tan fabric may be richly embossed to coordinate with the strong attention to detail that antique fauteuil chairs have.

Since these chairs are so ornate and are usually only available individually rather than in sets, fauteuil armchairs are most commonly used to accent a corner in a bedroom or other room in a home. A fauteuil chair can really dress up a plain interior corner and it doesn’t even usually need a throw pillow to have a finished look. A fauteuil armchair can also work well as a desk chair for antique desk styles and may look especially grand with a roll top desk. Roll top desks feature a wood covering that fits over the desk top and storage hutch area when the desk isn’t being used. When the desk is needed the covering can be rolled back to reveal the working surface.

We hope you have enjoyed this last Know Your Furniture entry courtesy of Madison Seating. We welcome your comments and feedback.

Have a wonderful day!