Furniture styles over the years Part 1

2Hey Readers,

It’s almost the weekend and that means you’re getting closer to wandering through a sale or showroom just to find that wicked piece of furniture.

I appreciate the craftsmanship of older furniture, I just do. It is long lasting, solid and there is something so natural about it.

While buying brand new can be somewhat fulfilling, I much prefer searching through a pile of someone else’s junk and giving something a new life in my home. Since my home is petit I often buy stuff for other peoples bigger homes.

By purchasing old works of art you are likely not just getting a better deal but you are recycling, thus being eco-friendly which solidifies why this is the delightful way to go.

Over the years furniture has changed just like our fashions have changed. Next time you go furniture hunting try to classify the furniture you see – its rather fun.

Even if you don’t see these antique styles of furniture everyday it is still empowering to know the progression of furniture over the years. Here are some furniture design characteristics and elements (in keyword format) from the earlier years.

Jacobean Style 1603-1688: Straight lines, ornate carvings, darker wood finishes, arcades (succession of arches), pilasters (flat columns decorating furniture), medieval look, English style, classy shapes and solid construction.

Early American Style 1640-1700: England influences, very basic design, functional, large in size, made of local woods and have minor decorative aspects.

William & Mary Style 1689-1725: Oriental influences, heavy, trumpet legs (end ball piece), prominent carvings, caned chair seats and strong Dutch characteristics.

Colonial Style 1700-1780: Conservative and encompasses different period furniture styles such as Jacobean, Early American, Queen Anne and Chippendale.

Queen Anne Style 1702-1755: Elegant, tall looks, simple curved lines, cabriole leg, delicate, refined, sophisticated, walnut wood and bat wing shaped drawer pulls.

Georgian Style 1714-1770: Pediment at the top, ornate carvings, gilding, claw feet, cabriole legs, mahogany wood and a luxurious/royal feel.

Pennsylvania Dutch Style 1720-1830: American style, decorative hand painted motifs, distinct, German influences and large in size.

Chippendale Style 1750-1790 (not to be confused with the touring male dance group): Straight or classic curved lines, cabriole leg, ornate natural images, (example birds), distinct knobs and mahogany wood.

Federal Style 1780-1820: Circular top, geometric shapes, square tapered legs, very ornate, elegant, maple wood and cherry wood.

American Empire Style 1800-1840: Decorative, visual, elaborate, heavy fabrics, luxury, gold filigree and mahogany wood. *Some linkages to Federal Style.

Shaker Style 1820-1860: Simplistic, functional, clean lines, woven chair seats and no carvings or moldings.

Victorian Style 1837-1910: Heavily carved pieces, dark finishes, gothic style and loads of embellishments.

Edwardian Style 1901-1910: Smaller, mahogany wood, relaxed and an eclectic mix of styles.

Art Nouveau Style 1880-1910: Dynamic, asymmetric shapes, patterns or motifs of natural forms like trees, curvy waves, leaves and branches.

Part 2 will capture some more recent furniture styles including  Art Deco, Scandinavian Contemporary Style and Mid Century Modernism. While Part 3 of this series will be all about architects & designers that made a name for themselves and classified their own furniture styles.

Part 4 and 5 will dive deeper into the furniture styles and the history behind each time period. I will be sure to include images where possible.

Come back soon for more on popular furniture styles and what make each of them unique.

*Please note the time periods (dates) noted above are represented as accurately as possible. They do not only indicate when specific ruler (of a set period) passed away but may be dated long after to incorporate when the furniture style was prevalent until.   


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