Vintage & antique furniture

Understanding antique furniture design eras and styles.

How old is antique? – Technically, an item is antique if it is more than 100 years old. European and oriental antiques come from a rich and long history and may be many hundreds of years old. These days the term antique is sometimes more generally used to describe vintage or just old items, or incorrectly used to reference modern reproduction pieces made in the antique style.

Let’s take a look at the different eras and styles of antique furniture.

Georgian Furniture – Georgian antique furniture is from a period between 1714 and 1820, when the King George’s ruled England. English craftsmen at this time focused on simplicity but used quality woods including mahogany and oak. Construction is solid and these pieces are built to last.

Regency Furniture – furniture known as “Regency” is from a small period between 1800 and 1830 when Prince George of Wales was Regent. It’s inspiration comes from old empire styles of Rome, Egypt and Greece. Reproduction Regency-style furniture became very popular again in the 1950’s.

Victorian Furniture – from the era when Queen Victoria was on the throne, between 1837 to 1901. An increase in British wealth caused a huge increase in furniture production. This style is very popular today and is characterised by soft curves and ornate carvings, often depicting flowers or foliage.

Edwardian Furniture – this style came about when King Edward VII ruled Britain, between 1901 to 1911. A lot of the designs in this period used ideas from older periods. Quality was still high on the agenda thanks to the use of woods such as mahogany, walnut and oak. Edwardian styles are generally squarer in design.

Mid-century furniture (not quite antique but definitely popular) – the period of the 1950’s, 60’s and 70’s heralded a new simplicity in furniture design with minimalist styling often inspired by the Scandinavian designers. Mid-century furniture, also called “retro” is usually constructed in lightweight woods such as teak and blondwood or wood veneers complimented by modern metails such asaluminium alloys.

If you’re interested in starting your own collection of antique furniture, see Abbeys current auctions.