Cabriole is a term for a furniture leg shaped in two curves; the upper curve always bows outward, while the lower curve bows inward.

This style of leg originated in ancient China and Greece, inspired from the legs of hoofed animals such as goats, horses, and deer.  The leg usually ends in a round pad to resemble one of said animal’s hoof, or a paw.  The etymology of the word derives from the French verb cabrioler, meaning to leap or prance (in this case: like a horse or a deer).

The cabriole leg made its debut in Europe around 1700.  Wildly popular, it became a signature detail of 18th century French, English, and Dutch furniture and stands as a widely recognizable feature of  18th century design today.

In the foreground: a bold, black-lacquered console table shows the style.

A desk chair has the cabriole curve.

Images / 1 / The Newlywed Diaries / 2-3 / Interior Design by S.R. Gambrel /

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Author: Sarah Sarna

Interior Designer and Editor helping intelligent women unlock their style and own it, à la: decorating, fashion, beauty, and beyond.