The usefulness of a piece of furniture is paramount to every other consideration. For example, a chair of whatever materials constructed, is made to sit in. If it does not answer this use comfortably, it is utterly unworthy as a seat. In its simplest form a chair has a seat, legs, and back, but it is often developed into forms with arms, rungs, rockers, and upholstery as well.
Fig. 25. - Four good table forms for use in dining-room or library.
Even the most elementary type should afford a seat wide enough to accommodate the body comfortably, should have legs of a height that allow the feet of the occupant to rest easily upon the floor, and a back that accords with the curve of the spine. These requirements would seem so obvious as not to need mention, were it not so rare to find them all combined in one chair. Since the adult members of a single family may vary greatly in height, size, and proportion, no exact rule as to the measurements of chairs can be formulated. In general, however, the seat of an ordinary straight chair should measure from 15 to 20 inches across the front and may be usually 2 or 3 inches narrower at the back. In height the seat may be from 15 to 20 inches from the floor, inclining slightly backwards. The lower the seat, the greater should be its depth; and conversely, the higher the seat, the more shallow its depth. The height of the back from the seat may vary from 12 to 30 inches. Arms should be of a height to support the arm of the occupant comfortably- about 10 inches usually from the seat. Rails or slats or bannisters in the chair-back should be tested with reference to the ribs and shoulder-blades of the user. Rungs are usually added for strength, but a well-made chair may be quite adequate to its purpose without them.
Good types of desks and sideboards.
The varying purposes for which chairs are used are another element in the decision. A sewing chair, a slipper chair, and a nursery rocker are preferably low. A short-backed chair is convenient for a dressing-table or for the kitchen. A chair for lounging may be as deep and high-backed and as luxuriously upholstered as the user fancies. No chair is good that is not comfortable in service.
With a table also, the first thought of the buyer should be its use. A dining-table, a table for the library, a sewing-table, a table for bedroom, hall, or kitchen, each has a special service to render and should be chosen with that service in mind. Every table, however, should be stable.
A bureau, a chest, a sideboard, or any container should be thought of in terms of the storage space afforded and facility of access to that space; doors should open and shut easily; drawers should run smoothly.