It is best to study about different styles of antique furniture so that you are not duped by unscrupulous sellers who might sell you a copy or reproduction at an exorbitant price. On the other hand, if you are looking for some particular pieces of antique furniture that will match the overall decor of your house, even then it is best that you are acquainted with different styles of antique furniture and the terms used for describing them. Do some research before making a purchase.
A piece of furniture should be at least 100 years old to be termed as an antique as opposed to plain "old". There are many different styles of antique furniture and the most notable among them are the English and French style.
English Antique Furniture
One of the most sought after and expensive of all antique furniture is that of the English. It encompasses four main styles called William and Mary style, Queen Anne style, Chippendale style, and the Hepplewhite style. The William and Mary style of furniture were from 1690 to 1720 and it was influenced from Flemish, French, and Dutch styles. The main characteristics of such furniture were trumpet-turned legs, oriental lacquer work, and upholstered chairs. The wood used for crafting these furniture were mainly oak, walnut, or maple. Elegantly grained surfaces were preferred.
The Queen Anne style of furniture was popular from 1720 to 1750. This style brought a sea change in the history of English furniture. The pieces became less bulky and considerable lighter as they were replaced by more curves, strong architectural forms, and moldings. There was an abundant use of curved cabriole-shaped stiles, vase-shaped splats, and hoof feet. It was in fact during this period that secret drawers were introduced. The principle wood used for such furniture was cherry, maple, and walnut.
The most enduring antique furniture styles in history is the Chippendale. It was influenced by Gothic and Chinese styles and it originated in England during the late 1970s. Large brass hardware was used in the furniture for the first time and it was characterized by straight or square legs. Chippendale furniture is named after Thomas Chippendale who created these beautiful styles, who made popular the Rococo style furniture. The most noteworthy of his creations are the famous Chippendale Rococo Mirror which has rococo carvings of flowers, leaves, and birds. It also has more restrained pieces in antique bedroom furniture styles that are much sought after today.
Hepplewhite furniture styles are characterized by the use of lighter wood such as chestnut, sycamore, and satinwood and used carvings with more restraint. Tapered legs, oval and heart shaped backs for chairs combined with colored wood inlay are some of the most noticeable characteristic of the Hepplewhite antique furniture style. The most expensive of all Hepplewhite furniture is the Hepplewhite chair which can easily set you back by a couple of thousand grand.
French Antique Furniture
The most notable of French antique furniture styles are the French Renaissance furniture, Louis XIII furniture, and Louis Philippe furniture. The primary material used for crafting French Renaissance furniture was oak, walnut, and ebony. Carvings of mythological characters, as well as flowers and birds were very popular. This period of antique furniture extends from early 16th century to the early 17th century. It was greatly influenced by Gothic and Italian furniture and many Italian craftsmen worked in France. During the rule of King Louis XIII, the style of French furniture moved to a new direction. As life in France became more luxurious, people began to prefer more extravagant styles for their homes. Scroll and shell carvings were extensive and the use of expensive upholstery like velvet, damask, silk, and taffeta became very common.
Antique American furniture styles has been influenced by the English and the most notable styles are Federal and Sheraton. Italian furniture uses geometrical patterns and clean lines and some of the most expensive pieces are Cassone Chests which are a collector's item. Identifying antique furniture is essential before purchasing any piece of furniture.