Different Styles Of Antique Furniture

How To Identify Different Styles Of Antique Furniture

custom dining table and chairs by carrocel

Need some help with identifying antique furniture? Here is a quick guide to help you distinguish between the different looks. It will also help you pick out the one that closely matches your décor and taste.

  • Jacobean: English style (1640-1700), medieval in appearance with straight lines, rigid designs, sturdy construction, ornate carvings and a dark finish.
  • Early American: Modelled after European furniture styles (1640-1700), particularly from England, France, the Netherlands, Scandinavia and Spain. Rudimentary utilitarian furniture made from local woods.
  • William and Mary: Dutch and Chinese influences, characterized by trumpet turned legs terminating in a ball or Spanish foot, padded or caned chair seats, and Oriental lacquer-work. Named after William and Mary of England (1690-1725).
  • Queen Anne: A graceful and moderately proportioned version of the above style, characterized by cabriole legs terminating in a pad or drake foot, fiddle-back chair back, and bat wing shaped drawer pulls. Named after Queen Anne of England (1700-1755).
  • Colonial: Conservative and less ornate than other styles made from 1700-1780, it combines some characteristics of William and Mary, Queen Anne, and Chippendale.
  • Georgian: A more decorative version of the Queen Anne style with heavier proportions, elaborately carved cabriole legs terminating in a pad or ball-and-claw foot, ornate carvings, pierced back splats, and the use of gilding. Named after George I and George II who reigned over England from 1714-1760.
  • Pennsylvania Dutch: A simple, functional American country style (1720-1830) with Germanic influences and characterized by colourful folk painting on case pieces.
  • Chippendale: Has French, Chinese and Gothic influences. American Chippendale, however, isa more ornate version of the Queen Anne style with cabriole legs, ball-and-claw foot, and broken pediment scroll top on tall case pieces. Named after British designer and cabinet maker Thomas Chippendale (1750-1790).
  • Robert Adam: Named after architect Robert Adam (1760-1795)who designed furniture with classical details to fit the character of his classically designed homes in England.
  • Hepplewhite: Neoclassic, characterized by a delicate appearance, tapered legs and the use of contrasting veneers and inlay. Named after English designer and cabinetmaker George Hepplewhite (1727-1786).
  • Federal: Combines the neoclassic characteristics of Hepplewhite and Sheraton. It is characterized by graceful straight lines, light construction, tapered legs, and the use of inlay, and contrasting veneers. Period – (1789-1823).
  • Sheraton: Also neoclassical with delicate straight lines, light construction, contrasting veneers and neoclassical motifs and ornamentation. Named after English designer Thomas Sheraton (1785-1820).
  • Duncan Phyfe: Considered by some as an adaptation and refinement of Adam, Sheraton, Hepplewhite, and Empire type of furniture. It is characterized by carved or reeded legs and neoclassic motifs. Named after American cabinetmaker Duncan Phyfe (1795-1848).
  • American Empire: Patterned after the French Empire with classical influences. It is moderately proportioned with classical ornamentation, coarse carving, and a dark finish. Period – (1800-1840).
  • Shaker: Simple and functional, produced by the religious group, the United Society of Believers in self-contained communities within the United States. It is characterized by straight tapered legs, woven square chair seats and mushroom shaped wooden knobs. Period – (1820-1860)
  • Victorian: The first furniture style of mass production (1840-1910), influenced by gothic forms with heavy proportions, dark finish, elaborate carving, and ornamentation. Named for Queen Victoria of England.
  • Arts and Craft: The Arts and Craft style (1880-1910) also referred to as the Mission style is characterized by simple utilitarian design and construction.
  • Art Nouveau: A naturalistic style (1890-1910)characterized by intricately detailed patterns and curving lines.

Distinguishing between the different styles of antique furniture can be challenging especially if this is your first experience with vintage items. Consider going to an established antique dealer or furniture store to for the best advice and value. If you are in Toronto or the GTA, get in touch with Carrocel Furniture Store.

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