The rocking chair started out somewhere around the 17th century and has been reinvented ever since. Some think that it was originally inspired by the rocking system on baby bassinets, other attribute its invention to Ben Flanklin in the 18th century. Regardless of its beginning the rocking is here to stay. In the early stages the rocking chair was a simple arm chair on which someone had tied a couple of quarter circle pieces of wood which made the chair go back and forth. It evolved progressively to become the rocking chair we know today, with curved wood panels attached with screws. We generally associate the rocking chair to relaxation and easy time, sometimes to reflection, and deep thought.
But the rocking chair does not have a unanimous following, because it is also associated with the image of old homes, and old people, and it sometimes has a hard time finding a place in a modern living room with clean pure lines. Many famous designers have taken a look at the rocking chair to give it a more “rock” attitude and look.
Some avant-garde designers propose a steel structure that can resist anything, others have used fiberglass, rattan, pressed wood, polyethylene and even wrought iron to make rocking chairs. Many of these are more suitable for outdoor use than they are indoors.
You first need to know where you are going to place your rocking chair before you can decide on the materials, the color, the style to choose. It can of course go wherever you want but there a few strategic places that are perfect for a rocking chair.
In the bedroom
Between the bed or an overstuffed chair, or a smaller chair, choices for having a comfortable spot to relax can sometimes feel limited. Using a rocking chair brings a touch of elegance to a bedroom. Placed in front of a window, it can give the occupant of the room a chance to rock gently while enjoying the view of nature, the soft rays of the sun or the gentle glow of the moon, or even to listen to raindrops…
In the living room
A living room is a place where we want a cozy atmosphere, a convivial area. It can simply have a rocking chair as “just one more chair”. But place it near the fireplace, it will quickly become everybody’s favorite, and you may have to run off the kids for a turn to sit in it… But of course you will let grand-parents have first dibs to read the paper or knit a scarf.
On the patio
Your patio is the gateway to the garden, it is also what ties the outdoors to your home, it has become “another room”. The rocking chair finds its place on any patio without any effort. What could be more relaxing than the slow back and forth rocking with a view of the garden, the flowers, the trees and the birds? It is best to choose an outdoor rocking chair for this emplacement as it will sometimes be exposed to the elements.
On the porch
Some lucky people have an old fashion southern porch. Tradition demands it, if you have a porch you have to have a rocking chair, if for no other reason than to remember Scarlett O’Hara on a warm southern evening.
This model of rocking chair is well known, and most everyone is familiar with the bentwood designs of Michael Thonet who was also the innovator for the bistro chair . This rocking chair was the beginning of modern rocking chairs , since its apparition in 1880 it has been copied many timed and imitated and it has inspired designers to new creations.
The end of the 19th century saw a revival of Roman and Greek classical elements were in. The term neo classical style was coined and several rocking chairs were made. While they are beautiful and some antique lovers appreciate them, they no longer are what homeowners are looking for, as an everyday, anywhere in the house type of chair.
Charles and James Eames in the early 40’s experimented with molded plywood and fiber glass, bent mesh and cast aluminum.
A similar chair is available on Amazon in a light blue color, and can be shipped to your door free of charge.
The 60’s left their own impact on the look of rocking chairs with what we commonly called today Danish modern.
This 70’s rocking chair by Ulrich Böhme would fit in many living rooms today other would definitely be qualified as retro and will find a following among the lovers of the style.
Amidst these rocking armatures came the glider rocking chair which had a different concept for the motion. It is still popular with a lot of people.
With this wide selection what is the contemporary home mom who just wants to rock a baby to sleep do?
Styles come and go, and in today’s society we are totally free to choose the style we like. Many designers today produce good looking, long lasting contemporary rocking chairs that will fit in your home regardless of the style you like, the color you need. If you cannot find the perfect chair in your home town, you can find it online and most suppliers will ship it free of charge or at minimal cost.
All the designs I have shown above were intended for indoor use. An outdoor rocking chair must, by necessity, be made of materials that will survive sun and rain. Teak is a great material, but some other woods are also being used. One fairly traditional style is the Adirondak wooden rocking chair, that matches the comfort of the well known Adirondak chair, that so many love, to the rocking motion you seek.
By visiting a few sites you will find many wooden rocking chairs that will give you comfort and style. Some of you might prefer the molded plastic rocking chairs that are as useful in the garden as they are in the house.
I would be remiss if I did not mention children rocking chairs as you will find that children love rocking chairs. It is probably the comfort they remember from the rocking days in the nursery rocking chair. As much as kids love to climb on a big person’s rocking they enjoy one their own size. If you enjoy your rocking chair, and you sometime have to share it with a child, consider giving that child the gift of his own rocking chair. My grand children who have now outgrown their little white rocking chair still cling to it and hope some day to pass it along to a beloved little one. however I am not so keen to think about being a great grandmother just yet.