Nailhead

December 22, 2011

I like nailhead, I wouldn’t say I love it… But there is a time and place for them.

Nailhead trim is a decorative accent that is used traditionally used  to embellish upholstered furniture. Nailhead detail can give a sophisticated look, but it can also give a more rustic vibe, depending on the finish of the head and how it is used. Nailhead trim can accentuate the style of the piece, or bring out its architecture and it is usually used on arms and rails. Although these days chairs are being embellished anyway you can imagine.  Leather-upholstered furniture, particularly leather sofas, chairs and ottomans are commonly detailed with nail head as the look suits the leather in a hearty, casual look.

Nailhead trim dates back to the period of 1560-1643 and the advent of French Country Style during the reign of Louis XIII. The best-known innovation from this period is the Os de Mouton chair. That piece marked the introduction of nailhead trim as well as upholstered backs and seats with the popular flame stitch pattern.

If you happen to be a do-it-yourselfer you can use nailhead detail when re-upholstering your own furniture to add a finished look and to hide staples or imperfections. Decorative nailheads come in many designs and finishes. From plain to ornate, polished brass to brushed nickel, you can find a nailhead trim to coordinate with your home’s decor and existing sofas and chairs. Check hardware stores and home centers for a selection of nailhead trim… or simply tell your upholsterer what finish you’d like and let him do the work.  Individual decorative nailheads must be hammered in one by one so this will definitely add to the bill if you add it to a chair new or used.  Alternatively, you can purchase a continuous nailhead trim strip that looks like many nailheads joined together, and you can hammer in every few nailheads instead of each one, but those are a cheaper (less desirable) way to go… just sayin.

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