Meet the newest in turned-wood furniture. Furnituremakers are spinning updated versions of chunky bun feet and weighty bobbin frames into shapely superstars with the latest in facelifts that include painted, whitewashed, and lacquered finishes. Known for repetitive patterns that create carved rhythms of long and short beats, turned furniture now features a variety of curves and twists -- disks stacked like rolls of quarters, ovals strung like beads of a rosary, or spirals that coil like a playground slide.
Shown here: "Westholme" walnut bar chair, $2,450; RC Byers Studio (323/653-0124), trade.
Photographs: Greg Scheidemann
Written and produced by Krissa Rossbund with Eli Becker
Beyond the animated qualities of its body, a turned piece's twisted legs or posts invite you to touch them. And the style has other design advantages as well. Even at its most traditional, turned furniture -- with its sculpted, circular patterns -- fulfills a modern aesthetic.
These curvy beauties also play fantastically with light. Unlike the flat, light-absorbing planes of most other furniture, the multiple stops and starts of turned pieces fill a room with shadows that create extra dimensions.
Shown here: "Lombardo" chair in white linen, $4,200; Ebanista (ebanista.com), trade.
"There is no reinventing the wheel in design," says Raymond Byers, designer and founder of RC Byers, a boutique furniture collection that veers in the direction of contemporary artistry. "I use classical elements as the foundation for my pieces and reinterpret from there. Turned wood is fanciful and adds a whimsical relief to stylized design."
Shown here: "Bobbin" chair with blue chenille fabric, $2,895; Dan Marty Design (danmartydesign.com).
"Turned furniture reflects a nice shadow and creates a cameo effect that a straight line does not," says Palm Beach interior designer Jack Phillips, who often incorporates turned furniture into his projects for its transitional properties. "Each piece has its own personality. It's not a straight line, but it's not a curved leg either. It breaks the hard edges of contemporary design without being too soft."
Shown here: Walnut Queen Anne 18-drawer cabinet on stand, $8,100; Althorp Collection through Theodore Alexander (althorplivinghistory.com), trade.
"Kendall" bobbin chair, $880; Martha Stewart Furniture with Bernhardt (marthastewart.com).
Detail of the "Kendall" bobbin chair.
"Merino" poster bed, $3,269 for queen-size; Drexel Heritage (drexelheritage.com). Bench: Mindi wood bench with leather seat and barley-twist legs, $1,754; Baker Furniture (bakerfurniture.com).
"Turner" table in white lacquer (on bench), $620; Mitchell Gold + Bob Williams (mgbwhome.com). "Mandara" weathered café table (standing), $600; and pine side table (on its side), $260; Roost (for retailers, email@example.com).
Left to right: "Mandara" lamp in hand-turned Himalayan pine, by Roost, $250, from velocity.com; turned floor lamp in mahogany finish, $1,590, and table lamp in black finish, $960; linen shades, $340 each; all from Dan Marty Design (danmartydesign.com).
Top to bottom: "Bobbin" oak side table with rush shelf, $5,200; Aesthetic (aestheticdecor.com), trade. "Amsterdam" card table with leather top, $6,570; Ebanista (ebanista.com), trade. "Rada" coffee table, $7,129; Quadrus Studio (quadrusstudio.com), trade.
"Metro Luxe" poster bed, $7,935 for queen-size; Century Furniture (centuryfurniture.com). "Burgess" walnut armchair with rush seat and back, $4,920; Dessin Fournir (dessinfournir.com), trade.