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18th Century Georgian Interior Design and Furniture Styles

Updated on September 23, 2017
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Ancient art and architecture isn't only for historians, but for people like us who’ve always been interested in anything olden and periodic.

Georgian art and style spanned a little over a century (1714 to the 1830s) under the reigns of George I, II, and III and is divided into the Palladian, Early, and Late Georgian periods. It came after the Colonial era, with an awakening and love for the beautiful things of life which the people expressed through their lifestyles and within their homes styles.

The rich, the well-travelled, and affluent 18th century Americans loved and adopted the style of European interiors for their homes. Even the wealthier farmers and small landowners joined the trend of introducing classic forms and styles typically found in Europe into their own interpretation of interior design.

Georgian interiors are elegant, harmonious and symmetrical, they are airy and uncluttered, spacious, and filled with light. Colour schemes were pale tones like soft greys, dusty pinks, and flat white, though the early Georgian colours were influenced by bold baroque colours of the past era such as burgundy and sage green. There was a major rise in popularity with regards to interior design and decoration and interior design.

Architectural elements were introduced in their interiors – large doorways, high ceilings, sculptures, and well-proportioned rooms, while stone and marble floors tied in nicely with the extravagance of the period.

Additionally, there were great achievements in the decorative arts, for example, furniture designs met many styles and standards. They were delicate and intricately made, ranging from those with the classical influence to straight, curved, and simple lined pieces.

And as the early-18th century brought on a new social lifestyle that included visits for tea parties, building book collections,and playing parlour games, etc..., it brought with it a style consciousness that made people buy furniture not only for its use but for its aesthetic merits and designs. Repeat pattern wall coverings like such as trefoils and chinoiserie were also popular.

Features of 18th Century Georgian Home Interiors

The local craftsmen and furniture makers were not as experienced as their European counterparts and therefore had their own limitations, yet in many instances, they produced designs of extraordinary merit. Popular interior designs and finishes include:

  • Roman style columns (Corinthian, Ionic and Doric)
  • High ceilings
  • Sash windows
  • Alcoves and niches
  • Carved sculptures of Roman gods and goddesses
  • Vases and urns
  • Swags, ribbons, and garland motifs
  • Shield and urn motifs
  • Classical figures
  • Pastel (subtle) colour scheme – often soft greys, pea greens and whites
  • Stonework
  • Wall and floor stencilling
  • Wallpaper with simple Oriental designs
  • Wall murals depicting picturesque scenes and landscape
  • Marble
  • Wrought iron works
  • White plasterworks
  • Animal figures – satyrs, dolphins, griffins and sphinxes used as bases or handles
  • Intricate mouldings - but not grandiose
  • Elegant furniture with soft fabrics
  • Mural decorations
  • Extensive wall panelling

Wall Murals
Wall Murals | Source

18th Century Georgian Furniture Styles

By the mid to late-18th century, cabinet makers and furniture designers became famous for their remarkable ability to reproduce English period furniture like Queen Anne, early Georgian, Hepplewhite, Sheraton, and most of the later English styles. Their successes continued to toe the line of English furniture styles with designs of Hepplewhite and Sheraton, produced mainly in mahogany and satinwood.

Georgian style was unlike the former eras, more thoughtful of designs, form and scale. And unlike the crude copies of Jacobean, Carolean and the William & Mary styles made using only local wood, Georgian period furniture makers had a majority of their furniture pieces made with well-selected mahogany wood, maple, satinwood, cherry, and Virginia walnut wood.

Georgian Styled Home Interior

Typical Furniture Designs of the 18th Century Georgian Era

Curvilinear furniture designs were very prominent and a certain amount of rich detailed carvings of French origin were applied to even the small surface areas. Many of these traditional furniture items have become highly valued collectables today with a great number of them still owned by prominent Pennsylvania families, many of them still carrying the labels of the original furniture makers.

Chairs

Wing chairs and chairs with hoop or shield backs are typical of Georgian furniture. Chairs were designed with cabriole legs and referred to as the bandy, and this style was soon followed by the claw and ball foot. The fiddle back chair or Queen Anne splat back chair was also introduced during the American Georgian period. Sofas, couches and daybeds were common pieces that were upholstered stylishly and adorned with loose cushions, and roundabout chairs became trendy items of furnishing

Tables

Tables comprised knee-hole tables and desks, tilt-top pie-crust tables, consoles, pier tables. The reproductions were usually accurate but frequently varied in proportion and detail. Desks with cabinet tops and secretaries with slant lids were intricately made and very popular at this time. There were gate-leg tables that fold down to the size of small consoles; breakfast tables with tops that tilt up and fold over so that they can be stowed away somewhere at the side of the room until needed.

Soft Furnishings

Soft furnishings were majorly made with glazed cotton fabrics have been used for both upholstery and window treatments with pagoda-style pelmets. Armchairs and divans often had loose covers made from cheap ticking or striped linen to protect fabrics which were removed whenever they had special occasions.

Cabinets

Cabinets and cabinetry works were one of the most popular items of furniture you’ll find in homes. They had cabinets to display their precious tour collections of imported porcelain and earthenware, then there were sideboards, bureaux and bookcases, China and linen cabinets just to mention a few. Most of these cabinets came with the scroll or triangular pediments. And examples of earlier designs featured the cabriole legs with lion's paw, club foot and the claw-and-ball foot.

Bedroom furniture

Bedroom furniture had their own distinct style and uses and consisted of high-boys, chests, low-boys, chest on chests, bureaux and four-poster beds. The quality of their poster beds depended on how wealthy you are. They also had quilts that were stuffed with down collected from bird’s nests (not plucked). The valuable quilts made with silk, linen or cotton cases were much sought after by those who know their worth. People of the Georgian period might have used a bed warmer as well.

Because there was no specific room for bathing or washing, you’ll find an ornate basin placed on a small chest set by the bed. No doubt there would also have been a chamber pot in a cupboard, for night-time use.

18th Century Interior Decor

Interiors of Georgian homes exhibited the oriental style of finishing so when the Japanese style of finishes was introduced they imitated it using a high gloss paint. The look soon became a fad with young women with terms like “Japanning” and “Decalcomania” becoming an interior decoration term.

Decorative art objects they used as décor items include paintings hung in formal groupings, folding screens, fans, porcelain and bronze ornaments, and lacquer works from the Far East.

How to Get the Georgian Look

© 2011 artsofthetimes

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    • artsofthetimes profile image
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      artsofthetimes 6 years ago

      Thank you Ann, and thanks a bunch for visiting.

      Cheers

    • annmackiemiller profile image

      annmackiemiller 6 years ago from Bingley Yorkshire England

      very interesting - voted up

    • artsofthetimes profile image
      Author

      artsofthetimes 6 years ago

      **Thank you JENNIFER, and thanks for stopping by.

      **Thank you SANNEL, and thank you for your nice comments. GodBless

    • SanneL profile image

      SanneL 6 years ago from Sweden

      I enjoyed reading this hub about the Georgian period of Americas history! I will definitely come back and read all you're other interesting hubs.

      Thank you!

      Sannel

    • Jennifer Mullett profile image

      Jennifer Mullett 6 years ago from Canada

      Nice work!!!