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The 9 Hallmarks of 18th Century Designs

December 07, 2018

The 9 Hallmarks of 18th Century Designs - English Georgian America

The 1700s gave us the Declaration of Independence and the Age of Enlightenment.

And the first English novel, Robinson Crusoe. The designs of the era gave us some firsts, too.

The furniture of the time tends toward a more uplifting generation than the previous.

From the pure beauty of Queen Anne to the gentle curves of Chippendale, the classic looks never go out of style.

We may know some of them by sight. But, identifying the era helps designers and DIY decorators stay true to their tastes.

So, what do you look for in furniture styles of the 18th Century? Here are 9 hallmarks you can't miss.

The One-Size-Fits-All Table

One of the best things to come from the William and Mary style are gateleg tables. It's the Queen Anne era which gives us drop leaf tables.

Theseroom saving masterpieces give owners two pieces of furniture in one. If not for this innovation, we'd never eat a Thanksgiving meal together.

This same furniture style gave us tables for particular uses. Tea tables and dressing tables are new and instant hits.

These are some of the first pieces to use lacquer finishes.

The Ball And Claw

The design from the Chippendale designers is at the bottom of legs of chairs, stools, and settees of the time.

The front legs of the seating options are curvy. while the back legs are straight. The end of the front leg curve fashions into aball with a claw design.

High-end fabrics cover the sitting part of seating. For the back, intricate wood yoke designs, many with cutout detailing.

The Hepplewhite Shield Back Chair

The shield back chair arrives during the time as Chippendale's intricate seating designs.George Hepplewhite made his seating simpler with a straight leg or tapered version.

In a real break from tradition in the 1700s, his plan became standard rather than fussy.

The shield back's arch would adorn chairs, settees, and later, mirror frames.

Today's furniture makers rely on the shield for dining chairs and side chairs.

Killer Queen Looks

Queen Anne style is often a descriptive word for highboys and lowboys of the early to mid-1700s.

The fashion is very like Chippendale and William and Mary styles but is less ornate and chunky.

Furniture legs often have a cabriole with a small pad foot. Common carvings in wood are fans or shells with embellishing legs and cabinet fronts.

Needlepoint, Damask, and Flowery Fabric

Those who were buying furniture in the early 1700s were socialites. This would change throughout the century, as incomes rose.

But, the opulence of the old era fabrics stays true in today's reproductions. Large flowers and rich damask with formal patterns and tassels or ribbons.

Colors were regal as well in rich ruby reds, greens, and yellows. The fabric choices go well with both plain rich woods as well as those with elaborate carvings.

Later in the century, versions of needlepoint fabric with silk thread become popular. Gold or silver brocade are preferences for high-end customers.

The Many Details of Baroque

No one can look at a baroque design for a few seconds. There's too much to take in.

Lavish, intricate, and ornamental, this style is one of the more recognizable. Wood carved inlays and veneers stamp the baroque furniture design throughout the century.

Though tables and chairs are replete with voluminous creations, they remain symmetrical. Popular baroque chests and cabinets have simple legs that taper from the piece to the feet.

The most elaborate leg style is a simple curve.

On the Lighter Side of Furniture Styles-Rococo

Rococo designs are classic use of free-flowing sculpting. Though scrolls and decorative borders are common, utility is the mainstay.

Upholstery on the seat and back of armchairs show off intricate carving on arms, legs and borders. The common themes of the carvings on furnishings or frames are shells or rocks.

The name Rococo comes from the French term "rocaille" which means shell or rock.

This period of design has a short life of a few decades. Most consider it a "lighter version" of the century-long baroque style.

This is one reason it is still popular today.

The Art Of The Armchair

Though there are ample seating choices from the 1700s, one of the most enduring is the wing chair.

It is also one of the best sellingin the reproduction market. And, there are enough styles for every taste.

Simple versions are tufted seats and backs of leather or heavy fabric. Louis the XV and Louis XVl seating survive as well with armchairs that are curvy and comfortable.

These are standards in many designed homes.

There are slight differences between the two, as Louis XVl back pieces slant back for comfort. The later the version, the simpler the design.

The Wood Of The Time

Groups of the society of the time were beginning to earn more. So, there are versions of furnishings with both durable and less expensive wood.

Mahogany is best for durability. Cherry, walnut or maple are less expensive (but as beautiful) pieces.

Veneers and inlays featuring more than one type of wood are famous. Many consider the 1700s the height of modern cabinet design.

Though times change, a good design never does.

The Best Piece For Your Home

There are many furniture styles from which to choose. We know how important the perfect piece is.

Whether you're looking for an antique dining table or seating options, we're here to help.

Want to learn about mixing old and new furniture styles?Read here for more.