There are numerous styles of furniture that utilize a splat back. This construction style has been around for centuries. The splat back chair has a centerpiece running vertically down the center of the backrest of the chair…
Many people are unclear about what precisely a splat is. An unusual term in today’s English, the word splat is often confused with the more common similar-sounding slat. Slat refers to vertical ribs running up the chair back. The number may vary, but they are usually uniform in shape and size and evenly spaced across the chair.
- The splat can be made of a variety of timbers and is often the feature that catches your eye first when glancing at a chair.
- The splat is also where the back attaches to the frame and is an integral part of supporting the weight of an average adult.
- Often, it provides a beautiful point of contrast between the otherwise simple lines and shapes of an easy chair’s interior.
Slat back construction is typical of the Craftsman design. The traditional Windsor-style chair is another example.
Splat Chair Definition
Splat is a term used to describe the vertically oriented panel in the center of the chair back. This is typically a flat wood panel. The splat can be a simple and plain wood surface, or it can be quite ornate and reflect various styles and cultures.
Furniture makers like Chippendale produced chairs with a multitude of splat variations. These panels reflected different cultures, such as Chinese, Greek, and French, and in various period styles.
You can find splat back construction in everything from the earliest European disciplines through early American and on into today.
Examples of Splat Back Chairs
One of the most iconic splat designs is used to create the fiddle back chair. The violin-shaped center panel in the back is the obvious source for the chair’s name. The fiddle-shaped splat is most often found in Queen Anne-style furniture.
The Windsor chair was first built in early 16th century England. These chairs became ubiquitous throughout the kingdom, appearing in everything from the Royal Gardens and meeting rooms to homes and libraries.
Windsor chairs gained popularity in colonial America, and New England craftsmen gladly supplied this ubiquitous piece of furniture throughout the colonies. You can find splat construction in almost every Windsor chair style from bow brace, double bow, tapered, and more.
Not only can you find splat-back chairs in nearly every style such as Primitive, Edwardian, Hepplewhite, and Art Nouveau, but also from different parts of the world. Many furnishings from China and other areas in Asia also incorporate this element.
While many splat back chairs have only a single splat, others such as the Windsor use a center splat with slats on either side. Chairs utilizing a splat typically have a more formal feel than those without this feature.
The style and construction of a particular splat can help you to determine the age of the chair by reflecting the period style. Other elements of the chair construction also play a part, but the splat makes an obvious statement.
Now that you know a little more about what a splat is and the vast range of construction and style, selecting the perfect splat back chair for your home should be a bit easier.
With all the different options and such a long history, the search for that ideal splat-back chair can be an engaging and enlightening endeavor.
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