A wooden leg does more than support a sofa. It provides a clue to the style and period of the couch. Whether the sofa is an antique or a piece that's newly constructed, exposed legs are an important element of a sofa's design. Traditional, country, European and contemporary sofas all have legs that are unusual to their style.
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Some traditional sofas are skirted, but others have exposed wooden legs. A common traditional leg is the cabriole leg, which curves at the top and narrows at the bottom, ending in a wider foot. The foot may be in the distinctive ball-and-claw style which resembles a talon grasping an orb. Another traditional leg is the Chippendale, a straight leg, often with striations carved into it to add ornamentation. Both of these leg styles mix well with formal, 18th century-inspired furnishings.
Contemporary sofas usually have straight unadorned legs of wood or man-made materials such as chrome or nickel. Contemporary legs are streamlined. Metal legs may be nothing more than a cylinder, but wooden legs may be wider at the top and tapered. This style fits into a modern, Shaker or Art Deco decorating scheme.
Often sporting gathered or pleated skirts, country style legs sometimes have spindle or turned legs. This curvaceous wooden style of leg resembles a spindle that holds yarn or thread. When constructed of pine or oak and highly polished, spindle legs fit in well with traditional styles. When the legs have a painted finish and a squat form, they take on a country character.
Typically European-style sofas have exposed wooden legs with a curvaceous form. The French Provincial leg, for example, is curved outward and tapered at the bottom. This style is a slimmer, less ornate version of the cabriole leg. Other European styles have cabriole-type legs that are highly carved and decorative. These styles mix well with traditional furnishings or pieces with a European flair.
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