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The two main influences on the development of furniture were the materials available and customer demand for ever-changing fashion. 16th Century Furniture - If you visit any antique shop or auction, a large quantity of surviving antiques are furnishings. Furniture made even 500 years ago is very durable, and often has a distinct style about it. Fine
was always admired and in demand, so furniture began to pass through the generations accruing in value right up to the present day.
Originally oak was the main timber used in Elizabethan times. Furniture was heavy and serviceable, with bulbous legs, and chairs were either turned or wainscoted. Benches were very common at refectory-style tables. The beds were 4-poster beds with heavy drapes to keep out the draughts, with a canopy and carved posts. 17th and 18th Century Progress - Later,
shora outdoor furnitur
in the 17th century, the ornamentation became flatter, and as the bustles of ladies' dresses appeared, so chairs changed to accommodate them too.
Chests gave way to chests of drawers and furniture became more gracious, refined and decorative. As Charles II ascended the English throne he wanted his court to emulate the fine furnishings that were in vogue in France and Holland. Talented craftsmen produced ornate furniture to please the extravagant taste of Louis XIV and his successors. Typically the furniture had gilded mounts and was beautifully decorated with carving and small moldings. Even today, the French influence is very obvious in furniture.
Generally French-style cabinets are curved in shape and beautifully decorated with carved moldings and trims along the front, and down the elegant S-shaped legs. These distinct styles and skills were copied and honed back in England. Rooms were smaller, so the furniture was scaled down, and as Queen Anne came to the throne in the early 1700's the Queen Anne chair was developed. With curving lines and comfortable upholstery, this chair style is still popular today.
20th Century onwards (modern furniture) - As time passed finer woods were found and used - walnut with its whorled patterns; mahogany with its red-brown colour; cherry; and rosewood with its distinctive dark streaks. In the later 20th century, teak and pine gave way to different materials, which brought new possibilities to challenge traditional designs. Chrome, PVC, plastic and glass are some of the exciting materials used in many colours to create modern bar stools, kitchen furniture, shelving and modern office furniture.
Laminating steam-bent timber brought costs down and raised new designs in chairs and tables. The armchairs and chaises-lounge of the past became sprung sofas with padded cushioning in a range of textiles that were unthinkable before. Progress has brought change, but newest and boldest does not suit every home. There is still a place in the Victorian properties, which many of us call home, to furnish in the grander styles of yesteryear.
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