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What is Georgian Furniture?

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  • Written By: B. Turner
  • Edited By: W. Everett
  • Last Modified Date: 02 November 2016
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Georgian furniture includes home furnishings that date from the mid 18th century to the mid 19th century. This style of furniture gets its name from Great Britain's King George I, II, and III, who reigned during this period. It was also during this time that the first Europeans settled in the Americas, so many early American furnishings were inspired by Georgian design. Much Georgian furniture design characteristics came in direct response to the heavy, Gothic style of the time. In contrast to these dark and heavy pieces, Georgian furniture styles are much lighter and more refined.

The Georgian period is often divided into three eras, with a different style of furniture distinct to each period. The early Georgian era lasted from roughly 1745 to 1780. During this time, Georgian furniture was characterized by its neo-palladian design, which was inspired by art and architecture of Italy. Early Georgian works were often over-the-top in terms of design and size, and were so expensive that only the very rich could afford them.

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By the mid-Georgian period, furniture and design was more heavily based on a neoclassical style, with additional inspiration from the Greeks and Chinese. Furnishings during this era emphasized proportion and balance, and pieces were smaller and more affordable overall. The late Georgian period is often referred to as the golden age of furniture, and it was during this time that Georgian design hit its peak. The designers Chippendale and Hepplewhite were two of the most celebrated furniture makers of the period.

Georgian furniture is characterized by its focus on dainty structures and fine lines. Furnishings of this period often included ball feet or claw feet, and muted colors. Brass handles and hardware were common on many types of Georgian furniture, as were carved egg-and-dart, shell, or lion's-head patterns.

While earlier furniture makers relied on walnut, Georgian era furniture makers turned to mahogany instead. Compared to walnut, mahogany is strong and durable. It's naturally water resistant, and also offers natural resistance against worms and other pests.

Classic Georgian pieces include wind chairs and chaise lounges with elegant shapes and designs. Couches and chairs with scroll arms are also distinctive of the period. Buyers interested in Georgian furniture can also look for writing desks, marble-topped tables, and corner chairs and tables. While original works often come with a high price tag, recreations offer an affordable alternative to those looking for a Georgian-style design for less.

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KaBoom
Post 6

I remember learning about Georgian vintage furniture when I took art history. As the article said, some of it was inspired by neoclassical style. The architecture of that time period was also neoclassical, if I remember correctly. I think Georgian furniture fits in really well in a home built in the neoclassical style.

However, not that many homes are built in this style these days. In my opinion, decorating an entire modern home in Georgian furniture is just not a good idea. I could see maybe doing a study or den in this style though.

strawCake
Post 5

@indemnifyme - That's good advice. I like mahogany also. I have to admit I'm not a huge fan of Georgian living room furniture otherwise though. I find the whole claw foot thing a bit creepy, too. My furniture does not need to have animal feet!

I also thing Georgian furniture looks quite dated. I prefer a more modern look for my home. I've seen tons of paintings from this time period (I was an art major in college) and a lot of the portraits feature Georgian furniture. The whole decorating style just looks oppressive to me, with all the dark colors.

indemnifyme
Post 4

I just love mahogany. It's such a lovely material to make furniture out of, I'm not surprised that it was so popular in Victorian era Georgian furniture. I especially love the color of mahogany, I think it just looks so classy.

I think the best part about mahogany is its durability. Furniture made from mahogany can last for many, many years. Especially because it's so resistant to pests!

In my opinion, if you want to buy Georgian style furniture, look for pieces made from mahogany. I think you will probably be more likely to find old mahogany furniture than any other kind anyway, since it lasts for so long.

indigomoth
Post 3

@pleonasm - While I agree that modern pieces can be fun and good value, if someone has their heart set on collecting antique furniture there are a couple of ways to do it.

They can either learn how to spot a genuine piece, and what each piece is really worth, which can be fun if it becomes a hobby.

Or, they can hire someone else to do it for them. If you look around antique forums or at reviews you can easily find a reputable antique dealer in your area and then you can look at what they have to offer with confidence.

Some people love looking around antique shops and others hate it. This is a way to bypass that and still enjoy the furniture style you like.

pleonasm
Post 2

@Mor - It can be a lot of fun looking around antique furniture stores for special pieces but most of the time they are quite expensive. Unfortunately, the owners of the stores know when an object is worth something to the general public and Georgian furniture often appeals to people more than other antique furniture, because of the lightness of its design.

Not to mention, if you don't know what you're doing you might get sold a replica, which is fine if you don't pay much, but you could lose quite a bit of money if you are tricked.

In some ways, I think it's almost better for people who just like the look of the furniture to buy replicas, particularly replicas made by modern craftspeople, rather than production line replicas.

They can also put a modern twist on Georgian style furniture that can really liven up a room and make it a character piece.

Mor
Post 1

I've recently been on a trip to the UK and was able to visit Windsor Castle. I didn't really know much about it aside from what it looked like from the outside before I got there, and to be honest my idea of a castle was stone rooms, tapestries and so forth.

But almost every room was beautifully furnished with examples from all kinds of eras. I normally wouldn't recognize Georgian furniture of course, I'm not an expert on that kind of thing.

But included with entry was an audio guide that explained each room along with identifying certain objects in them, like furniture.

There were some amazing pieces and considering the furniture is named after some of the monarchs

who lived in the castle, it seemed suitable to see it in that setting.

It has made me more interested in that kind of furniture, for sure and I might have to go looking in antique furniture stores to see if I can find any pieces for myself.

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