Midcentury modern style is making a big comeback in home decor, and one of its signature elements is the tapered furniture leg. This retro leg style adds a visual lightness and elegance to furniture pieces, allowing them to seem like they are floating rather than sitting heavily on the floor. Tapered legs are ideal for lightening the visual weight of bulky furniture pieces, and they provide a streamlined look that embodies midcentury modern aesthetics.

The History and Style of Tapered Legs

Tapered legs on furnishings first became popular in the 1940s and 1950s. During this era, midcentury designers were exploring new forms and breaking away from the more substantial, traditional styles of the past. The clean lines and tapered shapes came to represent the sleek, pared-down look that defined midcentury sensibilities.

Danish designer Finn Juhl was one of the early pioneers of the tapered furniture leg. He saw it as embodying strength through simplicity. Other famous midcentury designers who utilized tapered legs in their furnishings included George Nelson, Hans Wegner, and Charles and Ray Eames.

The tapered leg takes a minimalist approach to form and construction. It has a gentle incline from top to bottom, subtly drawing the eye upward and making furnishings seem lighter than they are. The tapered shape also lends a sleek, aerodynamic look reminiscent of midcentury modern architecture and design. This gives any piece of furniture an uplifting, forward-thinking aesthetic.

The Appeal of Tapered Legs in Contemporary Design

After falling out of fashion for several decades, midcentury style and tapered legs are now back in vogue. Their clean-lined look appeals to minimalists and those looking to pare down visual clutter in the home. Tapered legs lend elegance and poise to furnishings, providing weight and balance in an understated way.

The leg taper visually lifts furnishings, giving the sense that they are poised lightly rather than resting heavily. This lightness and energy resonates with people today, evoking a modernity that feels fresh and contemporary. The streamlined silhouette also complements current interior design trends toward more spare, uncluttered spaces.

From a decorative standpoint, tapered legs also draw focus toward other details, such as the craftsmanship and textures of the furniture piece itself. The taper shape is an excellent counterpoint to soft, rounded furniture forms. It provides definition without being ornate.

Great Uses for Tapered Legs in Home Decor

Tapered legs work well on nearly any type of furniture, adding style and visual interest to workaday pieces. Here are some of the best ways to incorporate this leg shape into your home decor:

Sofas and Chairs

Tapered legs are an excellent choice for sofas, armchairs and other upholstered seating. The tapered shape offsets soft cushions and fabrics, keeping the overall look light and contemporary. Try using tapered wooden legs paired with plush, rounded chairs for a striking contrast.


For an elegant sleeping space, consider a bed frame with tapered legs. This could include platform beds or bed frames with footboards. The tapered legs will lend height and style to beds with headboards and footboards. For a lighter look, a simple tapered platform bed frame looks refined and serene.

Dining Tables

In dining areas, tapered legs help create an airy, uncluttered aesthetic. They provide great support for expansive table tops without dominating the space. Try pairing a large round table top with gently tapered legs for a fresh, fluid look.

Desks and Work Tables

Tapered legs offer work surfaces a lightened appearance perfect for offices or craft areas. Desks and work tables with a tapered leg design seem orderly yet casual. Glass, metal or painted wooden tapered legs all work well for desks and other work areas.

Side Tables and Consoles

For decorative accent tables, tapered legs provide a delicate counterpoint to the table top. Choose tapered legs in metals like brass or stainless steel for bold modern side tables. Or, select wooden tapered legs in a contrasting stain from the table top.


Bookcases with tapered legs have an airy, almost floating appearance. Open shelving units look especially striking when paired with tapered legs in a coordinating finish as the shelves. This helps highlight the contents instead of the supports.

Tapered Legs Provide Enduring Sophistication

With their lightness, simplicity and grace, tapered legs are the perfect way to add a touch of midcentury inspiration to any space. They work with furnishings from antiques to contemporary designs. Their clean-lined taper shape embodies the very essence of midcentury style – an elegance that continues to feel fresh and new. For a sophisticated look with timeless appeal, bring home the sculptural beauty of tapered legs.

Frequently Asked Questions About Tapered Furniture Legs

Tapered furniture legs are hallmarks of midcentury modern style. Here are answers to some common questions about incorporating this iconic leg shape into your home.

What are the benefits of tapered legs on furniture?

Tapered legs add visual lightness, lifting furnishings to create an airy, floating effect. They provide a streamlined silhouette that complements midcentury and contemporary decor. The tapered shape also adds subtle visual interest and style.

What rooms work best with tapered leg furniture?

Tapered legs look stylish in any room but are especially well-suited to living areas, bedrooms, dining spaces, and home offices where a light, contemporary look is desired.

What are some good furniture styles to pair with tapered legs?

Tapered legs provide an excellent counterpoint to soft, rounded furnishings like upholstered chairs and sofas. They also complement large table tops and expansive work surfaces to add support without heaviness.

Should I choose wood, metal, or another material for tapered legs?

It’s up to personal preference! Wood and metal are most common but tapered legs also come in plastic, glass, and other materials. Choose a finish that complements your overall decor.

How do I add tapered legs to existing furniture?

Many retailers sell replacement tapered legs that can be attached to existing furniture frames. Be sure to select the proper diameter, height, and attachment method for your furniture piece.

Should my tapered sofa legs match my tapered coffee table legs?

Consistency looks great, but mixing finishes can add visual interest too. Coordinating is key – if finishes don’t perfectly match, make sure they complement each other through color, style or tone.

Can I taper the legs on furniture myself?

Tapering legs requires specialty woodworking tools and skill. Leaving it to professionals will provide the highest-quality look and structural integrity. Purchase ready-made tapered legs instead.

Do tapered legs wobble or make furniture unstable?

Properly constructed tapered legs are very stable, often more so than straight vertical legs. Ensure legs are attached securely and have proper braces and reinforcements.

Is there such a thing as legs that are tapered too much?

Yes, too aggressively tapered legs can look oddly unbalanced. A subtle taper of 5-15 degrees is ideal for most furnishings. Trust your eye – if a leg looks too tapered, it probably is.


Tapered legs provide the perfect finishing touch to add refinement, lightness and elegance inspired by midcentury sensibilities. Their minimalist silhouette and graceful lines lend furnishings a timeless sophistication. Whether your style is authentic midcentury or contemporary, tapered legs fit right in while still looking distinctively fresh. Let tapered legs lift your decor and spirits by stepping out stylishly with this iconic vintage-inspired design detail.