The Wide Diversity of British Antique Furniture

History - Antique Furniture




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The UK is a very old culture so there is a wide variety of British antique furniture that come out of each era of the empire.  The first thing to understand is that British antique furniture is classified by the period of time in which it was made.  Each era is named from the monarch who was in power at the time that the furniture was being produced.  There is some commonality to the design of British antique.  For example, the legs of the antiques are one way that experts can place a piece in its correct era.  While each furniture designer generation used some of the past in their own designs, each one was unique as well.


The various eras of British antique furniture each has a unique style as well.  It helps to learn the things to look for in the eras of British antique furniture.  When you do that, you will quickly develop preferences that will help define your interior decorating approach over all.  Here is a thumbnail sketch of the different British antique furniture time frames and what sets them apart.

• The Tudor period was known for very complicated carvings along with inlays into oak wood British antique furniture that created a luxurious feel.

• The Jacobean period was distinctive for the use of walnut as well as oak woods.

• Cromwell style used the same materials as the Jacobean designers but there was an emphasis on elegant inlays using ivory, mother-of-pearl or bone.

• During the Carolean period of British antique furniture design, the use of veneers became popular.  There was also the development of inlays of small pieces of colored wood, which is called marquetry.

• The Dutch furniture designers began to exert an influence on British antique furniture styles during the William and Mary period.


• The Queen Anne style became known for ornate upholstery of silk and needlework that offset the veneers of walnut and lacquer.

• The Early Georgian era was well known for marble tabletops and gilded designs.

• It was the Mid Georgian time frame that brought in the designs of Thomas Chippendale.  It was he who incorporated elegant imported woods like Virginia red walnut and mahogany.

• The Regency Period brought in a highly imaginative period of British antique furniture design that would incorporate characters from Greek and Roman mythology into the furniture design as well as figures from the mythology of other cultures.  If you see Egyptian sphinxes, crocodiles or even Chinese inlays and patterns, that is a sign that the piece of British antique furniture you are looking at is from the Regency Period.

• The well-known William IV style of British antique furniture is actually quite like the Regency period.  But the pieces you see from this period are heavier and almost awkward in their look and feel.

It might be easy to feel intimidated by the complexity and variety of British antique furniture.  For the antique collector or someone who makes antiques their passion, the British styles provide rich history and diversity to explore and learn about. 

If you are coming into your search for the best British antique furniture to use for your décor, just let the styles talk to you because one of the eras is sure to win you over.  Then later you can learn the names and all of the history and background so you have plenty to talk about when people come over and admire your home filled with lovely British antique furniture.





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