Furniture feet come in an incredibly range of styles. Moving through the centuries, design aesthetics change dramatically. This article will trace those changes, drifting through the past centuries. We will cover several 100 years of designs. I’ll break down the prominent features of each furniture foot.
Once you’ve finished this article, you’ll be able to identify which foot your furniture has. This will especially come in handy if you’re looking at antique furniture.
In This Article We'll Discuss
Styles of Furniture Feet
Let’s move through the 6 most common and important styles of furniture feet. Each one of these contains distinct features and represents a different period.
The first style of furniture foot we’re going to look at is the arrow foot. The arrow foot stems from the mid 18th century. This design was incredibly popular in colonial Philadelphia. It is a typical design, with many future variations. This is a great place to start as it provides the base for a lot of other designs.
The arrow foot looks like a tapered cylinder. The bottom of the foot is a point. This is normally raised from the ground very slightly, using a spheric base. Moving upwards from the base, the point expands outwards. Around one inch from the floor there is an outer ring. This ring is the point where design on the leg normally starts.
Moving upwards, intricate designs are then incorporated. This design is often grooved or pleated. Around halfway up the leg there will be a second ring. That is where the design stops.
There is a shorter version of the arrow foot, known as the blunt arrow foot.
Moving onto one of the most popular designs – the ball foot! This design comes from the mid 1600s. This makes it one of the earliest styles of foot. The ball foot is as the title suggests, a ball. The spherical bottom forms a ball, which the furniture rests on. It is most commonly found on larger pieces of furniture.
By this, I mean large sideboards or chests. The design gives stability. It is also very easy to recreate, making it popular throughout history. Although not as regal as the arrow foot, this design is everywhere.
Ball and Claw foot
Next on our list, the ball and claw foot. This design uses the ball foot as a base. Yet, instead of only a spherical design, there is a claw. This looks like an animal claw gripping the ball. They carve the leg from wood, so is difficult to produce.
This design was incredibly popular in the 1700s. Carving this from wood gave the piece of furniture a regal look. Even its modern variations tend to be slightly more expensive than other pieces.
The block foot is an incredibly simple design. As the title suggests, it is a block of wood. This became popular in the mid 18th century in both England and America. The design is a cube or square at the base of the furniture. The flat bottom gives great support.
The design does frequently look chunky. Although very stable, it is not the most aesthetically pleasing. This design is now incredibly common in the modern day. That’s mainly due to how easy it is to produce.
Next on our list is the bun foot. The bun foot design is the earliest on this list. Originating from the early 1600s, this design is similar to the ball. One could argue that it looks like a more squat version of the ball foot.
The key difference is that the ball is slightly larger here. While not as tall, it is wider. This gives the ‘bun’ impression. It is a simple design, often found on older furniture. This design has mostly fallen out of use in the modern day.
This entry into our list was popular in the Georgian period. It is a neo-classical design commonly seen in larger furniture. Peak popularity was late 18th century and early 19th century.
The design is very sturdy. It is a combination of the arrow and ball designs. While having a tapered leg, it has a ball base. This combination gives it the cylindrical design. The design includes the rings from the arrow design.
if you are looking for a regal design, this is one of the best on the list. It is not as common in the modern day. However, many antique designs will often use this as a replica base.
They name the pad foot for the flat shaped pad on the bottom of the leg. Is has a wide base surface area, which sticks out. The sticking out bit moves forward. Due to this, it looks like an animal pad.
This design is most commonly used on chairs and smaller items of furniture. Due to this, they are not commonly seen on older furniture. This was popular for only a very short amount of time. The underneath disk is easy to fashion. They only use this infrequently in modern designs.
The spade wood has a rectangular base. This is then combined with the arrow design. The combination of these two gives the effect of a ‘spade’. It was easily one of the most popular designs of the late 1700s. This continued on into the early 1800s. It was popularized in America.
The design did not take off to the same extent in England or Europe. Although, the spade foot is making a slight resurgence in the last 10 years.
There are many types of furniture feet. In the last several centuries, furniture feet are a high point of design. They move across various styles and periods. If you’re trying to identify your furniture, take a look at the key designs above.
I have included the most important designs. These form the base for all others. Combinations of the base designs featured here are the foundation of all other furniture feet.