technicolor thonet

by Grace Bonney

It’s funny how our perceptions of furniture and things we grew up with can change over time. When I was little, Spode and Thonet-inspired dining chairs were a big part of my parents’ decorating style, and I remember thinking they were tragically uncool. Cut to 20 or so years later, and now I’m starting to appreciate and even want them. Yesterday morning, I spent a few hours hunting down a vintage wooden Thonet side chair (with cane seat — no luck), and I came across these colorful versions instead. While this isn’t quite the look I’m going for, I totally would have given in to the hot pink version a few years ago. All that bright color against such a classic, curvy form looks fantastic. The blue and green versions are sold at DWR ($275 each), and the hot pink one is from ABC Home ($150). So if the worn-out wooden look isn’t quite your bag, maybe these bright versions will be a better fit. I’d love to see a ton of those pink chairs attached to create one giant entryway bench . . . xo, grace

Suggested For You


  • Hey Grace! I have two white chairs that are similar in profile to the Thonet chairs, but done in metal. I started seeing these brightly hued versions around blogs and the like. I loved the look so much, that I created an entire Pinterest board around these pretty things a couple of months ago to help me decide which hue to colour my chairs!

  • Love the colors! Speaking of colors, am I the only one who can’t see any of the text on any of the posts here? I can see the hyperlinks, but the body text just blends right into the background. I’ve tried it in Chrome and Internet Explorer with the same results.

  • Just purchased two gently “weathered” thonet-stye chairs for our balcony… and at a steal for $15 each… Been debating what color to paint. I’ve seen a few that left the bottom 4 or so inches of each leg natural which is a fun twist!

  • My parents have a few of them, though the cane has been replaced with wood and I’ve always loved them. I know that style went through a period of being super-expensive a few years ago but the prices seemed to come down – perhaps they’re on the rise again! I’ll tell them to treasure them, but I won’t suggest painting, my mum would rather die I suspect!

  • I grew up with bentwood chairs as well. I recently decided I needed an extra set of four dining room chairs and went on the hunt for some used bentwoods. I found a set of four on Craigslist for $135 and snapped ’em up. They needed a little repair here and there and aren’t 100% durable because they’re really old, but I meticulously repainted in a super glossy white, and I love them. They come out when we need extra seating for dinner, and they make me really happy and really nostalgic…

  • i also love these chairs. why don’t you try looking for some in garage sales (i think u call them “yard” sales), or when there are local cleanups and people put, rubbish to some, on the footpath for rubbish collection. you could paint them a base colour underneath – dry – then paint with another colour over the top (lightly) and slightly rub with sandpaper when totally dry, and get a slightly distressed look.

  • Try looking for chairs in garage (yard) sales, or on the kerb side when people are throwing unwanted items – rubbish to some, good finds to others. You could then paint them with a base coat of a desired colour-dry-and then paint with another colour on top & when totally dry, lightly sand back to get a hint of the colour underneath Maybe giving a semi-French Provincial look? I don’t really like the bright colours-dosen’t seem to “gel” with the look of the chair. from Sydney, Australia.

  • I have a 60s Stendig side chair in excellent condition. It is quite interesting as the back is nylon caning, which was used in the 60’s. It has been said that it was more affordable than natural caning in the Eastern European countires. The caning is in fantastic condition, very taut. The seat is even more interesting. The same nylon caning is in place but Stendig altered the chair by covering it with a buttery yellow leather seat. The company marking is on the chair and on the bottom of the solid seat (label sandwiched between the cane and solid seat). Bentwood is beautiful, very solid, just slight age appropriate scuffing on the legs. Chair made in Czechoslovakia.

  • I’ve become obsessed with Thonet No. 4 chairs. Against my better judgment I’m about to pay $299 per chair at http://www.homewardfurniture.com/cafedaum.html.
    Please let me know if you have some advice on how to find this chair at a better price. I’ve done some looking. The Thonet (Ton) store in Czech Republic is will to work with me, but they are not able to replicate this chair. Only TON in Austria has it but they don’t respond to email…

Leave a Reply

Design*Sponge reserves the right to restrict comments that do not contribute constructively to the conversation at hand, that comment on people's physical appearance, contain profanity, personal attacks, hate speech or seek to promote a personal or unrelated business. Our goal is to create a safe space where everyone (commenters, subjects of posts and moderators) feels comfortable to speak. Please treat others the way you would like to be treated and be willing to take responsibility for the impact your words may have on others. Disagreement, differences of opinion and heated discussion are welcome, but comments that do not seek to have a mature and constructive dialogue will not be published. We moderate all comments with great care and do not delete any lightly. Please note that our team (writers, moderators and guests) deserve the same right to speak and respond as you do, and your comments may be responded to or disagreed with. These guidelines help us maintain a safe space and work toward our goal of connecting with and learning from each other.