Wingback chairs – sometimes called wing chairs or wing-backs – are chairs with extensions (“wings”) on the back that usually extend all the way down to the armrests. They were first built in England in the mid-1600s, and became popular worldwide by the mid-1700s.
The wings were useful in those days, because they helped trap heat from a fireplace and kept you warmer while you were sitting in front of the fire. Wingback chairs remain popular today because of their elegant appearance.
A wingback recliner is a wingback chair that also reclines. They can be upholstered in fabric or leather, but are usually designed with a “classic” look.
Well-made wingback recliners strike the perfect balance between elegance and comfort. Because they tend to be smaller than other types of recliners, they work well as an accent piece. These recliners usually have a retro look that goes well with wood or antique-style furniture.
They’re also a great way to relax at the end of a hard day. While they’re not as luxurious as some larger, overstuffed recliners, wingback recliners generally weigh less and are easier to pull out from the wall when you need to sit down. This makes them ideal for people with limited floor space, or for seniors who may have trouble maneuvering a larger chair.
If this is your first time buying one, you may have trouble choosing between the variety of available options. That’s understandable. There are different upholstery materials, different sizes, and different features like rocking and swiveling. Shipping and assembly is another common area of concern.
I’ve reviewed ten of the most popular wingback recliners online. I’ve chosen a wide selection of prices and sizes, so there should be a good option here for your needs. I’ve also tried to cover the most common questions you may have.
List of the Best Wingback Recliners on the Market
- List of the Best Wingback Recliners on the Market
- Wingback Recliners 101
Who this is for: This is a good chair for anyone who likes to put their feet up without reclining. You can recline, as well, but the independent leg rest is this chair’s most striking feature.
Why I like it: This is a good looking chair for the price. It’s upholstered with black leather, with pine legs that are stained dark enough to look like oak. It’s not the best chair on the market by any means, but it’s a great value for the price.
This is a well-made chair that’s easy to assemble. Simply screw the legs on and slide the rails on the back into the seat, and you’re ready to go. No tools required. It’s also large enough for people up to 6’4” tall, and sits low enough that most shorter people will also be comfortable.
That said, there are a couple of drawbacks to this recliner. To begin with, the upholstery is bonded leather, so it’s not as durable as a lot of other chairs. The frame is also pine plywood, which isn’t as tough as hardwood. Still, it’s a fantastic value for the price.
Who this is for: This recliner is for all the big spenders out there who want their furniture to be a work of art. It’s also as functional as they come, but at the end of the day it’s a beautiful piece of décor.
Why I like it: There’s nothing here not to like, other than the price. I was particularly impressed by the top grain leather upholstery. It’s the most durable grade of leather you can buy, so this recliner will last long enough for your grandkids to grow old in it.
The Hooker Furniture High Wingback Recliner only requires 22 inches of wall clearance to fully recline, which makes it good for an office or study where you don’t have enough room for a larger recliner. The framing and upholstery is all done by hand. Every stitch and button has been inspected by a master craftsman.
This recliner has a back height of 41.5 inches, which is taller than most of the chairs I’ve looked at. This makes it large enough for people up to about 6’4” in height, which covers most of the population.
Who this is for: This recliner is ideal for the price-conscious shopper who doesn’t want to skimp on quality. It’s perfect for reading, watching TV, or gaming. It doesn’t lock in place, though, so it’s not good for sleeping in.
Why I like it: A lot of manufacturers charge a small fortune for chairs that are upholstered in cheap, bonded leather. GDF Studio uses a more durable polyester/viscose cloth that’s stain resistant and affordable. Instead, they put your money to better use by using hardwood in the frame.
I absolutely loved this recliner. The frame and legs are sturdy and well-constructed, and the upholstery is softer and more breathable than leather. At this price, I fully expected it to be uncomfortable, but the seat is surprisingly well-padded.
The only disappointing feature of this chair is that it’s a push back recliner. This makes it easy to lean back, but it can move around if you tend to shift a lot when you’re sitting. The GDF Studio Wingback Recliner is available in six colors: brown, dark blue, charcoal, light beige, light grey and light sky.
Who this is for: The Lane Wingback Recliner is a good choice for anyone who wants a lightweight recliner with low wall clearance. It’s great for seniors or people with disabilities.
Why I like it: I appreciated the fact that this recliner shipped as one piece. Not every furniture company needs to be Ikea, so it’s nice to see that Lane includes assembly in the price of their product.
This recliner has a lightweight, pine frame, and the metal parts are all engineered from aluminum. That makes it fully functional at only 79 pounds, but pine has a way of warping and wearing out quickly, so I do have some concerns about the Lane Wingback’s durability.
That said, the upholstery is high quality, made from a cotton/polyester blend that’s very washable. It has a push back design, with all of the pros and cons that that entails. At the end of the day, I would have liked to see better quality or more features at this price.
Who this is for: This recliner is for people who want the look of a wingback chair with the functionality of a rocking, swiveling chair.
Why I like it: I appreciated the washable, polyester shell on this chair. The cushion is also extremely comfortable, with the same type of pocket coil springs that are used in high-end mattresses. After I sat down, I didn’t want to get up again.
If you’re looking for a low-priced recliner that does everything, this is it. It rocks, reclines, and swivels. Of course, it’s a push back style recliner, so you won’t be able to fall asleep in it. That’s a shame, since the seat, back and armrests are all comfortable enough for napping.
The BONZY Swivel Glider supports up to 300 pounds, but is too short for most people over 5’6”. That’s a shame, considering that all that weight capacity could be put to good use in a larger chair. At the end of the day, though, this is a great value for the price.
Who this is for: The GDF Studio Recliner is a good choice for people who are willing to put some time into assembly to get a better price on their chair.
Why I like it: I loved that there’s a washable, durable chair available in this price range. The multiple color options are also a plus, since you won’t have to worry about whether it matches your other furniture.
This chair has a birch frame, which is pretty impressive for the price. Whatever else may happen, you don’t have to worry about cracking or warping under normal conditions. The upholstery is also high quality, if only because it’s so easy to clean.
While this is a push back recliner, it locks in place when fully reclined. This is great if you want to sleep in it. On the other hand, people with disabilities will want a different chair, since you have to push down hard on the leg rest in order to set it upright again.
Wingback Recliners 101
There are many aftermarket slipcovers available for wingback recliners. Before you buy, make sure to do some shopping, because some slipcovers are better than others. Generally speaking, there are two types of slipcover:
- Fitted slipcovers are made to cover the entire upholstered area of the recliner. They usually have elastic around the bottom so they fit snugly around the base of the chair. Oftentimes, they’re made for very specific styles, so check the measurements carefully before you purchase one of these.
- Unfitted slipcovers will fit a wider variety of recliners, but don’t generally cover all the upholstery. Instead, they’re usually designed to drape across the seat and over the arms or back of the chair, and are often secured with straps underneath.
Wingback Recliner Slipcovers For Unusual Designs
Of course, not every recliner is well-suited for a standard slipcover. Some are child-sized, while others – like the Divano Roma Furniture Wingback Glider Recliner Love Seat – aren’t actually chairs. For these types of recliners, it’s necessary to use a different kind of slipcover, like a love seat cover.
There are two ways of getting your recliner through a narrow doorway. I’d strongly suggest trying the first method first, since the second is a real headache.
The first way is to lay the recliner on its side and put the back rest through the doorway. Then, turn the recliner until the back rest is parallel with the wall, and put the legs and armrests through. If the armrests or legs are particularly large, you may need to unscrew the legs in order to get enough clearance. This should be sufficient to get your chair through almost any doorway.
If you’re dealing with a spiral staircase or a switchback staircase in a Victorian house, even removing the legs and turning the recliner on its side may not be good enough. In these cases, you’ll have to remove the back of the chair. Depending on the exact design, this can be easy or very difficult. Make sure to look under the seat for any hidden screws. Keep in mind that in some cases this may damage your upholstery, so only disassemble your recliner if there’s no other option.
Considerations For a Wingback Power Recliner
If you happen to own a wingback power recliner, you’ll need to be extra careful if you need to disassemble it. If at all possible, consult with your owner’s manual before disassembly, and look at the assembly instructions to find out where the wires are run and how they’re connected. The last thing you want to do is accidentally damage a wire.
Spotting antique furniture can be tricky if you don’t know what to look for. Thankfully, wingback recliners have wood, mechanical parts and upholstery, so there are three aspects of construction that you can look at in order to determine your chair’s age. Let’s look at each of these in detail.
- Carpentry. Most furniture made before 1860 was made by hand. Since even the best carpenters wouldn’t make a perfectly symmetrical joint like a machine would, the joints are the best place to look. Examine the dovetails in the frame of the chair. If they’re irregular, your recliner is most likely an antique. If they’re symmetrical, it was made by machine.
Another clue is to see if different types of wood were used for the frame as opposed to the trim and legs. Wood was more expensive in the old days, and even makers of high-end chairs wouldn’t waste oak or mahogany on a frame that nobody would see. If the chair has more than one type of wood, it’s probably an antique.
- Mechanical parts. Look at how the different pieces of metal are secured. If they use flathead screws, your recliner may be an antique. Philips head and Torx screws were invented much later on, and are only found in modern furniture.
- Upholstery. Old upholstery will tend to look old. Look for signs of wear, like threadbare cloth or discolored leather. The pattern itself can also be a clue. Floral designs on linen, for example, are almost guaranteed to come from before the 1930s.
Look for a stamp or label. I’ve listed this last because it’s very simple. Look under the seat for a manufacturer’s stamp or label. These may tell you what year the chair was made. Even if they don’t, you can look up the manufacturer and see when they went out of business. If they made their last chair in 1855, congratulations! You have a pre-Civil War recliner.
Before you decide to recover a wingback recliner, remember that it’s a very involved job. Professionals will charge over $1,000 in labor alone for a reupholstery job, and that’s before you factor in the price of cloth. This is several hours of work for an experienced upholsterer, so you’ll need to set aside plenty of time to get the job done.
Before you begin, there are a few tools you’ll need:
- A flathead screwdriver for staple removal
- A Philips or Torx screwdriver for screw removal
- A staple gun with staples
- New upholstery
- Interfacing material
- A drill (for some recliners)
- Scissors (for cloth) or shears (for leather)
Once you’ve got all of your tools, you’ll need to disassemble the chair to remove any upholstered parts. These include the arms, back, seat, and sometimes the wings depending on the design. Some of these screws may be concealed behind the upholstery where the fabric wraps around the inside of a part.
After you’ve disassembled the chair, remove all the staples from the upholstery. They can get in the way of new staples, so remove them even if you’re going to leave the old upholstery in place for extra padding.
Next, you’ll want to take each piece of the recliner and lay it on your new upholstery to measure the size. If this is your first time doing upholstery, it’s wise to choose the seat first. Generally, the seat will have the most regular shape, and will therefore be the easiest part of the job. Cut the material just as you would cut a piece of gift wrap, leaving plenty of extra around the edges so it can be stapled in an area that’s out of sight. Cut the interfacing material the same way, and you’re ready to apply it.
Hold the interfacing across the top of the cushion, and staple it at the top center of the back. Stretch it tight around the cushion, and put another staple in the bottom center. Make sure to keep the fabric straight and smooth while you’re doing this, so you don’t end up with wrinkles later on. Pull it tight from right to left, and staple both sides in the center. Once you’ve done that, staple all the way around the edges of the material at one-inch intervals. Now that the interfacing has been applied, do the same thing with the upholstery.
Repeat this process with each upholstered part, and you’re ready to reassemble the chair. Remember how you disassembled it, and put it back together the same way. If some of the screws were covered by fabric, use your drill, carefully, to create new holes for the screws.
A leather wingback recliner, like the Hooker Furniture High Wingback Recliner, will go well with formal, high-end furniture. But there are a few things you’ll want to consider first.
- The color and grain of the leather. Leather can range from tan to dark brown to black. Depending on the grain, it can be smooth, marbled, or have a textured finish. Brown leather usually has a red undertone and pairs well with warm colors, while black leather matches more or less anything.
- The color and grain of the wood. If your leather wingback recliner has wood legs or trim, you’ll also want to make sure your furniture matches that wood. Most modern stains are a red-brown, but different chairs come in different colors. A chair with white maple legs, for example, won’t look right next to a dark oak end table.
- The style of the chair. Some recliners have an antique appearance, with big brass buttons that look like something out of a Rudyard Kipling novel. Others have a more contemporary look, with straighter lines and less decoration. Decorative chairs go better with furniture that has lots of curves, while contemporary chairs will go better with modern furniture that has a lot of right angles.