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American Home Furniture

Updated on April 2, 2013

The Roots Of American Home Furniture.

Every region has it's own special traditions of home furniture which reflect the values of the different cultures that developed in each country. America has quite a short history, and that's why really old antique items of furniture are not to easy to come across - antique furniture is frequently imported from European countries, for example.

Nonetheless, American history is rich in the culture of the original pioneers, and traditional furniture styles mirror that culture to some extent. In the pioneering times, home comforts were sometimes lacking. They were a hardy breed of people and painstakingly built communities in the wild but beautiful outdoors wherever they settled. (Photo: Creative Commons)

When a more or less permanent home was built, then the home eventually became filled with the comfortable trappings that rewarded the hard working settlers after a day's toil. The American Home Furniture heritage we enjoy in the present day is influenced by the furniture making traditions of all parts of the USA.

By Celticchrys (Own work) [CC-BY-SA-3.0 (http://creativecommons.org/licenses/by-sa/3.0)], via Wikimedia Commons
By Celticchrys (Own work) [CC-BY-SA-3.0 (http://creativecommons.org/licenses/by-sa/3.0)], via Wikimedia Commons

Two of the very first principles for American furniture builders was strength and toughness. A huge range and variety of attractive woods were in abundance all over the US, and furniture craftsmen soon began to make good use of the natural durability and warmth of the elm, oak and walnut. Naturally, all furniture (and everything else for that matter) was made by hand.

Even in the present day, when there are incredible machines designed to produce a fantastic array range of useful products, furniture we call 'hand made' is valued above all and is generally more expensive than factory produced items. Just like in pioneering times, American home furniture has a reputation for quality and durability - it also looks good!.

Traditional Styles Vs Modern Furniture

Oak, Hickory, Walnut and Cedar are still great favorites in the present day, just like in pioneering times. Oak seems to hold a special place in the heart of American home owners, and is often chosen for many items of furniture - beds, screens, sofas, tables, chairs, kitchen cabinets and wardrobes, just to name a few! Naturally, adaptation to living in a changing world means that we are constantly demanding new items of furniture for a particular purpose. This probably started at the time consumers wanted something beautiful to contain the phonograph and, later on, the radio. They both need some kind of box to hold all the various components, so why not make it into lovely item of furniture at the same time?

Since then, manufacturers have created furniture to hide TV sets, DVD and media centers, computers and kitchen ovens. It's testimony to mankind's inventiveness that American home furniture characteristically enjoys a unique blend of form and practicality. The furniture of course should do what it was made to do, but it is also an important part of our lives - it has to be be good to behold and very comfortable to come into contact with.

Home Styles 5179-30 Round Dining Table with Pedestal Base, Cottage Oak Finish, 42-Inch by 30-Inch
Home Styles 5179-30 Round Dining Table with Pedestal Base, Cottage Oak Finish, 42-Inch by 30-Inch

This heavy table just says 'American Tradition' - it's durable, delightful to the eye and very practical.

 
7pc Contemporary Cappuccino Finish Solid Wood Dining Table Chairs Set
7pc Contemporary Cappuccino Finish Solid Wood Dining Table Chairs Set

Solid wood is always preferred and this set is made to the highest standards.

 
Home Styles 5538-09 Country Casual TV Stand, Distressed Oak Finish
Home Styles 5538-09 Country Casual TV Stand, Distressed Oak Finish

Modern technology meets traditional furniture style with this TV stand in Oak.

 
By DerHexer, Wikimedia Commons (Own work) [CC-BY-SA-3.0 (http://creativecommons.org/licenses/by-sa/3.0)], via Wikimedia Commons
By DerHexer, Wikimedia Commons (Own work) [CC-BY-SA-3.0 (http://creativecommons.org/licenses/by-sa/3.0)], via Wikimedia Commons

Kitchen Furniture - Heart Of The Home

Someone once noted (it might have been me) that women and men are looking for different features when thinking of buying a different house. In the man's case, a rambling yard space with a double garage, and a big workshop area might well clinch the sale. On the other hand, ladies are normally more interested in the bathroom and particularly the kitchen. ( I know - terribly stereotypical, but still true!)

Naturally, I might be exaggerating a little but it's certainly a fact that the quality of the kitchen is a major factor when purchasing of a house, from both a man or woman's point of view. I suspect that men have sworn to remodel the kitchen after the purchase in order to get the house that he really wanted. It's a fact that, if an existing kitchen is large enough, a creative bit of design work can produce a really great space for everyone to enjoy. There are some choices to address here, not least of which concerns kitchen furniture - maybe antique kitchen furniture could be the way to go?

Kitchen Furniture On A Budget

When money is difficult to come by, it really makes sense to look around before we buy anything, but in the case of expensive items like kitchen furniture, its crucial. At the lower end of the spectrum, you could buy those fitted kitchen cabinets which are often sold as an entire kitchen ready to install.

One of the problems might be that, though the items could be constructed from walnut or oak, you might get the strange feeling that your kitchen is the same as hundreds, if not thousands, of others. A great way to get around this is to customize your layout, thereby making it your own, and add a few extra items, such as a free standing cutting table, or perhaps a small wood stove..

By IvoShandor (Own work) [GFDL (http://www.gnu.org/copyleft/fdl.html), CC-BY-SA-3.0 (http://creativecommons.org/licenses/by-sa/3.0/) or CC-BY-2.5 (http://creativecommons.org/licenses/by/2.5)], via Wikimedia Commons
By IvoShandor (Own work) [GFDL (http://www.gnu.org/copyleft/fdl.html), CC-BY-SA-3.0 (http://creativecommons.org/licenses/by-sa/3.0/) or CC-BY-2.5 (http://creativecommons.org/licenses/by/2.5)], via Wikimedia Commons

Antique Kitchen Furniture

Of course, you could just purchase factory made wall cabinets if you wanted to - usually space is at a premium and this option can make some sense - and then add antique kitchen furniture for the available floor area. A word of warning here - antiques can be very expensive, but it isn't always the case by any means. Anyone who has made a hobby out of buying antique pieces of furniture will agree that most of the fun is searching for it!. Not only do you have the satisfaction of having a unique item of furniture, but you did it yourself.

If you happen to have lots of money, then go and shop in the antique stores, but its not a given that you have to pay a lot for antique kitchen furniture. There are some incredible bargains waiting to be discovered in street sales and flea markets (get there before the professionals beat you to it.) That repulsive piece lost underneath four layers of paint just might may strip down to show the beautiful center island for your kitchen.

An old butcher's hardwood chopping block can make a perfect free standing center piece, and ancient oak cupboards look wonderful when stripped. Artistically hang a few oiled black iron skillets from the kitchen ceiling,install a small wood stove and you'll have a kitchen to be proud of - whats more, it will be unique.

Home Source Industries - 153BRD - Tall Kitchen Microwave Cart - Cabinets, Shelf and Glass Doors - White with Light Wood Trim
Home Source Industries - 153BRD - Tall Kitchen Microwave Cart - Cabinets, Shelf and Glass Doors - White with Light Wood Trim

It doesn't get more traditional than this item, but it's also very practical with mutli-level storage options.

 
Coaster Home Furnishings  Country Farmhouse Rectangular Butcher Block Dining Table - Natural / White
Coaster Home Furnishings Country Farmhouse Rectangular Butcher Block Dining Table - Natural / White

The heart of the home was always the place where the family get together at the end of the day to eat and talk.

 
US Stove 1261 Cast Iron  Small Logwood Stove
US Stove 1261 Cast Iron Small Logwood Stove

A wood stove makes a great addition to any kitchen to give it that cozy feel. (Put one in the bathroom as well!)

 
By Loadmaster (David R. Tribble)    This image was made by Loadmaster (David R. Tribble) Email the author:  David R. Tribble Also see my personal gallery at Google Picasa (Own work) [CC-BY-SA-3.0 (http://creativecommons.org/licenses/by-sa/3.0) or GFD
By Loadmaster (David R. Tribble) This image was made by Loadmaster (David R. Tribble) Email the author: David R. Tribble Also see my personal gallery at Google Picasa (Own work) [CC-BY-SA-3.0 (http://creativecommons.org/licenses/by-sa/3.0) or GFD

Home Wood Flooring

Possibly more so than any other kind of flooring, a floor made of wood is a fantastic base for the rest of the home furnishings and decor, gently reminding us of a different age when wood floors were the only option. All house constructors throughout time have always made use of the materials around them to build their homes, - it might be stone, mud, clay, grass or wood.

In America, during the settler's times, wood was very abundant and was made use of for all practical household items from transportation, to animal food storage, to building a house and making furniture. The durability of wood is legendary and it isn't a surprise that early house builders used the toughest and most appealing varieties to make the floors in their homes.

There's nothing quite like a well polished Oak or Walnut floor - and the smell! Even lowly pinewood makes a great floor - what it lacks in toughness, it makes up for by being relatively abundant and cheaper!

Modern Options For Floor Coverings

The modern building practices have moved towards cost effectiveness, and speed of construction is a major constraint for busy craftsmen building a house. The combination of the two takes a toll on how attractive our houses are, both inside and out. For instance, a liquid concrete floor that can be simply poured out is a lot easier to do, and of course doesn't cost as much as wood to install. The surface coat is left smooth so that we can carpet it as we please, and the finished product is welcoming and a bit like a soft cocoon. Without a doubt, that's all well and good, but what if we want some tradition in our home?.

A reasonable way to get around this is to mix up the kinds of flooring you have in different rooms of your home, putting in carpets where you have floors made of concrete, and burnishing any existing wooden flooring to an appealing shine. If you happen to have concrete floors all over the house, then you could think about installing a slightly raised false floor. The planking could be cut from pine or oak, or whatever wood you prefer, depending on how much money you want to spend!

Copyright Jim Bruce 2013
Copyright Jim Bruce 2013

Other Kinds Of Boards Used To Cover Home Floors

A modern trend is to lay a wood floor with large panels constructed of plywood, or aggregate board. These kinds of boards can be purchased in different densities and sizes, and are fabricated to be really flat. In general, small bits of sawdust or wood pulp are stirred into liquid glue and forced together under many tons of pressure and then kiln dried. The resulting board is heavy and dense, and has a very flat surface.

The board could be a little brittle, according to the quality of construction and it's density. Some producers use bigger wood chippings for making the boards, and those kinds are more resistant to splitting or breaking. This type of floor board is perfect for carpeting, just like the floor poured from concrete, but it's also great for laying wooden effect floor tiles or squares, which are fast and simple to install. Some wood tiles 'float' on the real floor and just 'click-clack' together when they are laid, which locks them together, so no glue is used.

Wood Flooring: A Complete Guide to Layout, Installation & Finishing
Wood Flooring: A Complete Guide to Layout, Installation & Finishing

You can save a bundle if you do it yourself. As in all things, from spirituality to laying wood floors, a good guide is invaluable.

 

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