What Is an Adirondack Chair?

You might think it’s just a chair, but the Adirondack chair is something different. Yes, you probably didn’t know this name, but you had an idea of what it looked like; most probably, your grandad had it and liked to read his newspaper in the morning and drink tea in the evening. 

If you have googled what is an Adirondack chair and ended up here, there are many and somehow weird things that you probably didn’t know about this classic piece of furniture. 

It’s a symbol of cottage country, long summer days spent in the garden surrounded by birds chirping and watching the sunset as the season comes to a close. 

This was quite potential from our side, wasn’t it? But most probably, you are here to find out more about why this chair hasn’t gone down in history yet and what is with it that people still shop for it. 

Therefore, keep reading cause we have prepared pretty much everything you want to know about its origin and how it became so iconic. 

What Is an Adirondack Chair

What Is an Adirondack Chair?

There is a great chance that you recognized an Adirondack chair even if you didn’t know what its name was, and if you did, you are probably confused and thinking to yourself, what’s with the weird name? 

It got its name from the Adirondack Mountain range in upstate New York. One interesting legend states the name was chosen because the patients in the convalescent home for tuberculosis in the Adirondack Mountains enjoyed sitting in this chair to breathe fresh air during their treatment. 

It didn’t carry this name; it isn’t the only name known today. Probably its true name is Westport plank chair since this is where the design was patented. 

Canadians like to call it Muskoka chair, named after their beloved Muskoka cottage country, where the Ontarians like to flock to every summer.

How it all started?

The first time the Adirondack chair entered history was in the early 1900s with the famous businessperson Thomas Lee. He was born in Massachusetts to a wealthy family. His family owned a home in Westport, a charming little town nestled along Lake Champlain in the surrounding area near the Adirondack Mountains. 

Thomas and his family liked to vacation there; he even dropped Harvard Law School because he wanted to work in nature and feel more at home in the Adirondack. 

It is said that Lee was so unsatisfied with the comfort of the Victorian furniture that was commonly used there, so he decided to build a chair that could handle the rugged terrain of the Adirondacks. 

After working tirelessly for a long time, perfecting his wood peace, he finally reveals his creation. It was a low chair with a high back, wide armrest, and slanted seat, and he named it “Westport chair.” Both the original chair and the one we know today are made from one piece of wood. 

Becoming the iconic chair

Here is where the story gets a little fuzzy. After some time, finalizing his creation, Lee ran into his friend Harry Bunnell, a local carpenter who owned a shop in town. Bunnell was in a little tight financial position due to his lack of resources, and since Lee was already wealthy, he decided to share his chair design and help him improve his business stance. 

Bunnell started to make Westport chairs that he sold to the local community. Needless to say, Lee’s creation became a hit, and Bunnell didn’t waste any time; he immediately patented the chair. 

The patent statement was: “A chair of the bungalow type adapted for use on lawns, porches, at camps and also adapted to be transformed into an invalid’s chair. A further object of the invention is to produce durable and strong chairs adapted to withstand rough usage and exposure to the weather.” And the rest is history. 

Bunnel continued to grow his Westport chair-making business for several decades since the other local competitors spotted its popularity and started creating similar chair variations. 

The people just started calling it the Adirondack chair because the mountains were much more widely known than the small Westport town in N.Y. 

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Today's Adirondack chair

Today’s Adirondack chair

So, what exactly makes the Adirondack chair today different from the one back in the day? Not much, but it’s surely an updated version. 

While the original style of the chair had a single thick plank of wood as a chair back, the Adirondack chair we know today has several pieces of thin wood to serve as the back of the chair, making it a bit more comfortable.

Today there are all kinds of designs and options made from wood and even plastic. While the original Adirondack chair was created in the natural wood color only, today, you can get it in all colors possible to blend it with the surrounding where you want to place it. 

There are several new additions and features to enhance its comfort, like cup holders, foot extensions, and sophisticated headrests. 

Why Do You Need the Adirondack Chair in Your Home?

Now when you know what is an Adirondack chair, you probably know if it’s a good piece to purchase or not. If you are still somewhat hesitant and wondering, you can rest assured that there are many reasons why you should buy it immediately.

High level of comfort 

One of the first reasons is the comfort it provides. Since it has extra wide armrests, it offers more room for your hands and serves as a small table where you can put your food or drinks while enjoying your evening or reading a book in your backyard. 

Another distinctive benefit is that it’s a unique piece of furniture, unlike other chairs. Even if you sit in it for hours, you won’t feel achy and weary, so you can rest assured that you’ll always stand up relaxed and rejuvenated.

If you are curious about what makes this chair a synonym for comfort, the design allows even weight distribution. It’s created so that your body can relax in its natural state and your weight is spread evenly throughout the area from your upper back to your legs. It’s the ideal outdoor seating option in any outdoor area.

Versatility of use 

As you can guess, its popularity resulted in the Adirondack chairs coming in various styles and designs so everyone can incorporate them into their living space to suit their aesthetic. 

You can find the Adirondack chair in various materials like plastic, resin, hardwood, plywood, teak, recycled plastic, composite, and many more. Other types of materials are specified for being weather resistant and budget-friendly.

Moreover, if you like vibrant-looking styles, you can get them in a full rainbow of colors like lime, tangerine, and lemon. Most notably, there are even folding variants, so you can easily carry them on vacation.

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Surprising Fun Facts About the Adirondack Chair

We came to the most interesting part. You probably didn’t know many cool facts about this unique chair piece that might make you want to invest in one even more. Here are some of the most notable ones:

  • The Adirondack chair can be made from aluminum, teak, injection-molded plastic, and even high-density polyethylene lumber. 
  • There is still a lot of ambiguity about the original inventor of this chair. Some people believe that Bunnell stole the design from Lee. However, there is no evidence that Lee sought credit or profit after Bunnell got the patent. 
  • It’s still unknown whether Lee later regretted the idea of sharing its design with Bunnell and whether this decision impacted their long-year friendship.
  • Canadians named the Adirondack chair a Muskoka chair because the Muskoka cottage region is one of their favorite places for summer vacation. 


Now you won’t be confused about what is an Adirondack chair, as we have covered pretty much every detail about this stable peace. So, if you are looking for a comfortable, versatile, and incredibly sophisticated piece for patio seating, you do not doubt what you need to purchase. 

The Adirondack chair is also pretty visually attractive and gives an aesthetic appeal wherever you place it in your backyard or house. 

The best thing is that you can purchase it in various styles and sizes; it can be an oversized or a folding Adirondack chair which would be perfect for carrying it with you and getting commodities on the highest level everywhere.

When it comes to maintenance, the Adirondack chairs don’t require much effort to keep them clean; however, you need to protect them with paint so that they will look shiny and luster for a long time. Make sure you clean them first and apply a thick coat of paint to protect them from damage.

Whatever you decide, you can rest assured that you can’t go wrong with this furniture option.

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