Regency Culture and Society: Furniture

I have furniture on the brain.  DH and I are redeco-ing our living room after a kitchen remodel, and I have been scouring craigslist and vintage shops for the perfect pieces to during our living/family room in to the perfect lounging and entertainment destination.

Most of our furniture has been hand-me-downs, furniture we have hung on to for ten or fifteen years because it was free and comfortable.  However, it does not reflect our style or lifestyle (never any space for guests to sit down!)

I have always assumed, reading hist-ro and even writing it, that most Regency furniture was likewise ecclectic and inherited.

However, there was a long tradition of cabinetry and furniture making happening in England as well as strong home deco trends that would have influenced many with the ready to plunk down funds for new furniture to outfit their digs.

Reflecting the neo-classical style which appeared in the Georgian era, Regency furniture featured plain, slender, elegant lines and avoided shapes and curves for surfaces. Carving and elaborate forms of decoration and ornament like marquetry declined, giving way to brass work and use of rosewood and zebrawood. These woods allowed striking use of colour in veneers, alongside mahogany, which was still the wood of  choice for most library, dining room, and regency bedroom furniture. (  Regency furniture style was an adaptation of the French Empire sensibilities ( and included animal ornamentation and scrolled ends in rosewood.

In Regency era England, there were several popular furniture makers and designers.  These included: Thomas Sheraton, Thomas Hope, George Seddon and Sons, and George Hepplewhite.  These furniture makers were influenced by Georgian Thomas Chippendale, a Georgian cabinet-maker and furniture designer associated with the English Rococo and Neoclassical styles.

There are lots of lovely books published by these famous designers for contemporary furniture reference.  I will be diving in to them and providing a more detailed look at furniture over the next several months!


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