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What Is Spanish Furniture?

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  • Written By: Karize Uy
  • Edited By: Lauren Fritsky
  • Last Modified Date: 03 November 2016
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Simply put, Spanish furniture are furnishings that borrow designs from the culture of Spain, or of Latin America in general. The furniture can often have complex and elaborate patterns carved or molded into the material. Many, if not most, types of Spanish furniture are made to be heavy, resulting in their durability and sturdiness.

As with many house furnishings, the primary material for Spanish furniture is wood, with the preference leaning towards darker shades. This is perhaps a reflection of the rich and often festive culture of the Spanish people. Some of the woods chosen for the furniture include walnut, mahogany, oak, and cedar. Applying a thin coat of lacquer can also add shine to the furniture and helps keep it from deteriorating quickly.

Aside from using wood as the primary material, Spanish furniture also uses other materials such as tortoise and oyster shells, ivory, and metal to give a contrast to the deep color of the wood. Traditional windows were fitted with the shells instead of glass to give privacy, yet provide translucence. The tables, chairs, and chests, on the other hand, can be gilded with thin sheets of metal to give more elegance to the furniture. Metals such as silver can also be used for gilding, if not as the primary material for some pieces such as chairs and tables intended for outdoor use.

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Another distinguishing character of Spanish furniture is the shape, as the pieces tend to be large and bulky. The chairs, for example, usually have wide and tall backrests, while the legs are also thick. The cabinets and chests are also generally large, allotting a large space to contain the items. Even the doors are often tall and wide, providing a spacious canvas for the engraved patterns.

Spanish events and celebrations are often the inspirations for the engravings. These can include scenes of bullfighting, courtships, and other fiestas unique to the Spanish culture. Religious images can also be used for the patterns, owing to the nation’s Roman-Catholic beliefs. Images of bells, crosses, and even the different faces of saints can be carved into the wood furniture or embroidered into the cloths.

One can also observe the use of vivid and solid colors to decorate Spanish furniture, a similarity that they share with Muslim-inspired furniture, as the latter once ruled over Spain. This splash of color can also be a reflection of the usually jovial and passionate temperaments of the Spanish people. Colors of red and gold tones are common favorites for fabrics and paints that can add more to the character of Spanish furniture.

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