This Chunky Furniture Trend is Setting the Tone for a Playful New Way of Decorating — Here’s How to Style it

Flared-leg furniture is a smart way to mix up your contemporary scheme with an injection of fun

(Image credit: Paulin Giret. Design by Nouveau Standard)

We’ve noticed an interesting change in furniture design lately, and it’s all to do with legs. Rather than the tapered shape that has characterized so much of what’s on offer – thanks to our collective long standing love for Scandinavian and mid-century-style pieces – furniture is going flared, or ‘chubby’, with legs that increase in width as they reach the floor. It’s very fun, very playful and very 1970s.

It also might be paving the way for an emerging interior design trend that’s all about that element of playfulness – interiors that celebrate whimsy, that feel lively and full of energy, and that don’t take themselves too seriously. Look to the likes of Laura Gonzalez, whose interiors champion this approach – and whose own Mawu chair employs flared legs, too.

Intrigued? We spoke to some interior designers to find out their thoughts on this spirited approach to furniture – and get some tips on how to style similar pieces.

Dining room with orange walls, green and white wave patterned tiled floor, marble table and boucle chairs with flared wooden legs

(Image credit: Gülmen Interiors)

It’s all about the shape’s association with design eras past, agree the interior designers we spoke with. ‘Just like with denim, flared furniture legs are back in a major way,’ says Liz Goldberg, founder and creative director of Raleigh, North Carolina studio CAROLYNLEONA. ‘It's a playful nod to the 1970s' freshly unexpected way to update a space.’

‘The resurgence of playful designs with soft, almost inflatable-like shapes reflects a nostalgic embrace of ‘70s decor and ‘90s trends that have been making a comeback in recent years,’ adds interior designer Claire Garner. ‘These pieces infuse spaces with a comforting sense of nostalgia while offering a modern twist through craftsmanship. This approach creates inviting interiors that resonate with many, inviting them to bask in the warmth of cherished memories with a contemporary flair.’

And of course, this furniture style instantly adds a bit of fun to a scheme – as the above dining room idea from Turkey's Gülmen Interiors shows. ‘Consumers are increasingly seeking unique and expressive furniture pieces that inject personality into their living spaces,’ says interior designer Bethany Riley. ‘Flared leg furniture offers a sense of whimsy and character, making it a popular choice for those looking to add a playful touch to their interiors. Moreover, the versatility of flared leg designs allows them to seamlessly blend into various decor styles, further fueling their popularity.’

How should you style furniture with flared legs?

Dining room with textured grey wallpaper, black marble flared-leg table and curved wooden chairs

(Image credit: Abigail Jackson. Design by CAROLYNLEONA)

The good news is that flared leg furniture is incredibly versatile, says Bethany Riley. ‘It can complement a wide range of interior design schemes and styles, particularly mid-century modern, retro, and Scandi decor style, where they can serve as focal points while enhancing the overall aesthetic. However, these pieces can also add visual interest to more contemporary or eclectic spaces, providing a refreshing contrast to sleeker furniture designs.’

Liz Goldberg recommends leaning into the look and making your furniture piece the central feature of the space. ‘We love incorporating a flared-leg style chair or table into a space to add bold detail in a sophisticated way,’ she says. For the dining room above, she adds, 'We paired a flare-leg marble dining room table with vintage Missoni dining chairs to play with shapes and curves. This style is worth investing in as it's a classic with a twist!’

Close-up of flared-leg wood dining table against moss green panelled wall

(Image credit: Paulin Giret. Design by Nouveau Standard)

Take inspiration, too, from the ‘70s-style decor that shares the playful spirit of this look. ‘Incorporating playful pieces into a scheme is all about embracing the lush layers and earthy tones characteristic of the [decade],’ says Claire Garner. ‘Think deep buttons and tufted upholstery, rich rattans, and bold bouclé decor. The key is to create a harmonious blend of textures and tones that exudes warmth and personality while maintaining a sense of cohesion throughout the space.’ In the scheme above, featuring a dining table from French design studio Nouveau Standard's Collection 1976, rich woods and a mossy green backdrop set off the flared legs of the table perfectly.

And finally, don’t forget to balance your scheme. ‘To complement these playful pieces, consider incorporating elements that echo their design characteristics while also providing contrast,’ says Bethany Riley. ‘For instance, pairing a flared leg sofa with sleek, minimalist side tables can create a striking visual juxtaposition. Similarly, mixing textures and materials, such as pairing a velvet flared leg armchair with a rustic wooden coffee table, can add depth and dimension to the space.’

Deputy editor (print)

Ellen is deputy editor of Livingetc magazine. She cut her teeth working for sister publication Real Homes, starting as features editor before becoming deputy editor. There, she enjoyed taking a peek inside beautiful homes and discovered a love for design and architecture that eventually led her here. She has also written for other titles including Homes & Gardens and Gardeningetc. For her flat in a converted Victorian property, she takes inspiration from the works of some of her favourite architects and tastemakers. She has a particular passion for green design and enjoys shopping small, local and second-hand where she can.