Let’s Talk About Billy Baldwin’s Iconic Slipper Chair

Billy Baldwin standing in 70s style living room

There’s an aroma of newness wafting through the air, from Malibu to Manhattan, as we bury the pandemic into damp soil and look to transform our homes into reimagined spaces that blend post-pandemic modernity with the nostalgia for midcentury modern.

But instead tossing everything out and starting over, why not add a classic piece to your home? A future heirloom, perhaps? PINKYS is not simply in the business of supplying steel windows and hand-forged iron doors; we are a custom design studio that combines the hard-edged lines of Ellsworth Kelly with the fresh, bold, and fundamentally simple, hushed elegance of Billy Baldwin. Our style combines old world allure with something that is sophisticated and modern, like Baldwin’s Manhattan apartment. PINKYS blends glamour with the minimalism of clean lines, precisely cut steel, and bold simplicity.

White Clean living Room

Legendary bon vivant and decorator Billy Baldwin (“dean of interior decorators”) took a low, short-legged, gracefully armless chair used in 18th-century boudoirs and reimagined it in to something simple, comfortable, gently slanted, that combined American frankness with European refinement (the term “slipper chair” is in fact an American invention). Decorator Miles Redd called Baldwin’s tightly upholstered slipper chair, “timeless, crisp, modern. The Ellsworth Kelly of chairs.

Billy Baldwin’s version of a slipper chair is at once a simple stool and a box-based side chair. It is outstandingly versatile. It is perfect for showing off long legs or a stylish pair of trousers. “Small women and football linebacker find it equally comfortable,” Baldwin once said. His slipper chairs are wonderfully fitted for everything from petite dining rooms to the foot of a bed, which brings together old world allure with the sharp edges of a Park Avenue condo. It is at once humble and utterly grand. Slipper chairs, above all, are cool and comfortable, which Baldwin would have described as the “ultimate luxury.”

Black Office style room

The classic Baldwin-style slipper chair can be upholstered with simple white fabric or more elaborate and gorgeous covers designed with floral, paisley, denim, ivory (as Baldwin did in his Manhattan apartment). Former editor-in-chief of Vogue Diana Vreeland had one of Baldwin’s slipper chairs upholstered in a custom floral. It sat in her living room. Baldwin’s clients included everyone from Greta Garbo to Jackie Kennedy.

His slipper chair is ideal chair for hosting a cocktail party, as you can sit on it in three different directions, while making those around you feel at home. The slipper chair can be placed on a patio, next to steel French doors, inside a rustic farmhouse with wrought-iron details, next to a tub in a bathroom decorated with white marble, in a neglected corner of your new home office, partitioned with steel doors with tempered glass windows (it can be upholstered in leather like a classic study), or sit comfortably underneath a giltwood framed Matisse. “His style is honest and American,” said Susan Dempsey. Antique slipper chairs can range from $1,000 - $5,000. The Baldwin version of the slipper chair is being manufactured again. It is, as they say, back in vogue just as we finally find a reason to decorate again.

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