Ladder Back Chairs – A Little Piece Of History

Ladder back chairs get their name from the horizontal spindles or slats that make up the back rest and look similar to rungs of a ladder. They date back to the middle ages when they could be found in homes all over Europe and by the 17th century they were the most common type of chair that could be found in England. In Australia they became prevalent around the 1870’s and although they weren’t as pretty as some of the other chairs being produced at that time, they were probably the sturdiest.

Quick to make and practical

The ladder back chair evolved at a time when timber was plentiful while machinery for woodworking purposes was limited. At the time that these chairs were made, practicality was the name of the game, with less attention paid to the finish as it would have been for higher grade furniture. In fact, many of the chairs were simply sanded down and left whereas others were given a quick coat of varnish.


The construction of ladder back chairs was simple and they weren’t intended to stand out from other furniture. As such they were used for a variety of purposes including sitting on, stepping on, standing on, and even to hang newly made candles. They were handy little chairs to have around the house and took up very little space because of their small seats. Another advantage was that they could be easily carried around simply by tucking the back under an arm and holding on to one of the lower rungs. Due to their design, very little wood was needed to make several chairs, so they were cost effective too. One of the most popular designs was the ladder back rocking chair and this was nearly always featured in the movies of the time.

Collector pieces

Although they are simplistic, ladder back chairs are good looking in their own right and kind of comforting as it is a style most of us are familiar with. They’re still being produced today whereas the older ones have become highly collectable with some antique ones being sold for a tidy sum of money.

Modern day ladder back chairs


Today ladder back chairs are just as popular in cafes and bars as they have ever been and at Cafe Furniture Melbourne we have a good selection to choose from. Manufactured with either an oak or dark walnut frame they’re upholstered with a soft vinyl seat cushion in black, chocolate, charcoal and caramel, to give more flexibility when styling them with existing furniture and decor. Priced at under $90 they’re a real steal. Durable and long lasting, they’ll serve you well for many years and also come with a 12 month warranty. Why not take a look in our online store, download our latest furniture catalogue, or even drop by our Melbourne showroom. You’re guaranteed a warm welcome.


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