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FURNISHINGS AND DECORATIVE ARTS

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Furniture design complements the building, imitates English prototypes, and has both high-style and vernacular variations. Forms and ornament are drawn from English Queen Anne, Early Georgian, and Chippendale modes. Queen Anne lasts longer in America because there is no subsequent Early Georgian development, so American styles are defined only as Queen Anne (1720–1790) and Chippendale (1750–1790). (Some American museums refer to Queen Anne as Late Baroque and Chippendale as Rococo, believing these terms to be more descriptive of the character of all decorative arts.)

Furniture types include arm and side chairs, easie or wing chairs, sofas, tables, secretaries, high chests of drawers (highboys), dressing tables (lowboys), tall case (grandfather or hall) clocks, firescreens, and beds. As in English homes, furniture arrangements in American homes support room function, with an emphasis on formality, customs, and harmony. Symmetry and integration with the architecture are important in the placement of tables and/or pier tables and looking glasses. 

 Materials. Walnut and imported mahogany are the principal woods for all types of furniture, but regional woods such as maple, cherry, and pine are good substitutes. Often, local woods are stained or painted in imitation of the more valuable walnut or mahogany to enhance their appearance. Japanning is fashionable in the early part of the century.

Seating. Queen Anne chairs follow English prototypes in a curving silhouette, solid splat, and cabriole legs. Feet may be pad, club, ball and claw, or trifids. Chippendale-style chairs feature lower and broader proportions, rectangular outlines, pierced splats, trapezoid seats, and cabriole legs. Chinese, Gothic, and Rococo ornament is common. Comfort is important, so arms curve and seats contour slightly to fit the body. Combinations of Queen Anne and Chippendale characteristics, such as a Chippendale form with a solid splat, are not uncommon in the colonies. Image

 Tables. Public rooms have numerous card and tea tables (Fig. 22-622-822-9), which line the walls when not in use. Card tables resemble English ones, and like them, have folding tops. Tea tables have rectangular or round tops, often with piecrust edges, and either legs or pedestals. Sideboard tables with marble tops are used for serving during meals. Dining tables made in several pieces are plain because they are covered with a cloth when in use. Dressing tables frequently match high chests of drawers.

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Written by callawayinteriordesign

June 1, 2012 at 9:45 pm

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Interiors

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As in architecture, interiors become increasingly formal, classical, and refined. Interiors directly reflect the symmetrically balanced exteriors, creating a classically ordered, unified image based on English prototypes. Treatments and finishes reflect English preferences. The design of public interiors varies according to function and use. Church interiors, characterized by architectural detailing and simplicity, often have seating in compartments and balconies.

 Floors in religious and government structures display variety through the use of wood, stone, and brick in various patterns. In contrast, most residential floors  are of wide wooden boards. Some, especially those of poor quality, are painted in solids or patterns, or to resemble rugs; floor cloths are common, even in the best rooms. Oriental rugs are rare until the end of the 18th century, and most often are put on tables because they are too expensive to walk on.

 Windows in many public and most private buildings usually include recessed wooden shutters on either side to block light. Curtains are rare even among the wealthy and appear only in the best rooms. Types include pairs of panels and festoons that resemble swags and cascades. Doorways may contribute to the classic image through broken pediments, round arches, and pilasters, and may repeat the ear motif. Wood doors with panels are common and are either painted white or, if walnut or mahogany, left natural.

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Textiles. Furnishing fabrics provide much of the pattern and color, which are important, and usually all textiles in a room match. Colonists are forbidden to make their own so domestic production is limited to informal clothing, children’s garments, and bed and table linens. English fabrics predominate, but the British East India Company imports Indian fabrics so there is no tariff. Furnishing fabrics include wools, linens, cottons, damasks, moires, chintzes, and some silks. Dominant textile colors include deep indigo blue, brown, black, purple, red, and pink. Only overprinting blue with yellow produces greens. Most colonists prefer brightly colored and highly finished wools and use silks mostly for formal clothing. ImageImage

Lighting. Expensive light fixtures  of brass, porcelain, silver, and glass come from England, while cheaper ones of wood and pewter originate locally. Houses are well lit for entertainment, but the amount of light is limited compared to current standards.

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Written by callawayinteriordesign

June 1, 2012 at 8:40 pm

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Architecture and Interiors.

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American colonists continue to look to English prototypes for architectural design inspiration.  Colonial buildings become more formal with greater design sophistication and now are symmetrical, ordered, and balanced. Classical details and Neo-Palladian design influences increase throughout the period. 

Public buildings include government structures, churches, educational structures, and taverns. After mid-century, new types, such as hospitals and markets, increase.

Floor Plans. Churches follow the earlier British regional forms of a Latin cross plan in the South and a more centralized plan in New England. After mid-century, New England Protestant churches begin to abandon the traditional central meetinghouse plan in favor of the Latin cross in the Wren and Gibbs tradition. In Latin cross plans, the entry is on a center axis leading through the nave to the altar. Crossings are usually absent. Governmental and educational buildings often have a doublepile plan or a variation.

 

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Most large houses have a double-pile plan on both floors. The long center hall or passage, a circulation and living area, has entries at each end to catch cooling breezes and a stairway to the second floor.

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Materials. Common building materials for both public and private buildings are wood, brick, and stone. Selection varies by geographic location and the availability of resources. Brick is the most common material, although some wood-frame construction with clapboard siding predominates in New England areas.

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Windows and Doors. Sash windows are typical on both public and private buildings.  Six-over-six or nine-over-nine glass panes are the most common. Some churches have round-arched or round windows. Windows are often large to admit as much light as possible. Stained glass is rare, as plain glass is preferred to make nature, God’s creation, visible. Windows on dwellings often have exterior shutters, especially after midcentury. Classical details define doorways on public and private buildings. Surrounds vary from simple pilasters and a pediment to Doric porticoes. Doors themselves are of paneled wood and are usually painted a dark color.

 

 Roofs. Hipped or gable roofs are the most common on all structures. Gambrel roofs  are also common on houses. Domes are very rare. Some roofs on houses are accentuated with a classical white balustrade, and dormer windows add variety and allow light into attics.

 

 

Written by callawayinteriordesign

June 1, 2012 at 8:29 pm

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American Georgian: 1700s–1780s

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During the 18th century, the traditional vernacular buildings, interiors, and furnishings with strong regional differences of the 17th century yield to a learned, tasteful, refined image based on classicism—the American Georgian style. Similar across the English American colonies, the style reflects the tastes, culture, and increasing prosperity of colonists along the eastern Atlantic coast from Canada to South Carolina who maintain strong connections to their English heritage and tradition. They copy and adapt to their needs English precedents in education, art, and architecture.

 

Design influences in America come from the English nobility, whose elaborate houses show their cultured tastes refined by the French court of Louis XV, trade with the Orient, and travel to Europe. Rococo, Chinoiserie, and Palladian designs contribute to an image based on reason and refinement. With prosperity and more settled times, colonists follow the English gentry in seeking gentility, culture, manners, and civility. Formal, classical houses and furnishings support this polite society and its activities. Knowledge about the appropriate 18th-century design language comes through immigrant artisans and architects, English pattern books, and imported furniture and materials.

 

Classical motifs defining architecture include pilasters, pediments, dentil moldings, balustrades, round arches with keystones, and quoins. Common motifs in interiors include the ear, shell, acanthus leaf, rosette, and pineapple or pinecone, as well as renditions of naturalistic flowers. Furniture motifs may be classical (columns and moldings), Rococo (shells and flowers), or Chinese (fretwork and bamboo).

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Written by callawayinteriordesign

June 1, 2012 at 8:15 pm

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Furniture

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Tables. Georgian drawing rooms have numerous small tables, reflecting society’s interest in inviting friends for tea, cards, and/or conversation. Tea tables also fold down, and tops may be round, oblong, rectangular, piecrust, or polygonal. They have legs or rest on a carved or fluted shaft terminating in a carved tripod called a claw. Dining tables have three parts: a center with drop leaves and two semicircular ends. The pieces are placed against the wall when not in use.

 

 Storage. Every fashionable Georgian drawing room has a commode. It has a straight, bombé, and/or serpentine-shaped front and sides. 

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Beds. Four-poster beds are the most fashionable. Queen Anne types follow earlier forms, but Chippendale headboards are elaborately carved with Rococo, Chinese, or Gothic details.

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Written by callawayinteriordesign

June 1, 2012 at 8:08 pm

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Interiors Continued….

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Designers carefully calculate proportions of rooms, chimneypieces, door and window surrounds, and other details with complex formulas given by pattern book writers or the masters, such as Palladio, or derived from antique models. Rooms are decorated according to their significance; the more important the room, the larger the scale and the more extravagant its decoration. By mid-century, Rococo, Chinese, and Gothic forms and motifs appear more frequently on walls, ceilings, chimneypieces, textiles, wallpapers, and furniture. English Rococo, more conservative than the French, emerges mainly as ornamentation instead of form in both interiors and furniture. 

By the 1720s, lighter hues, particularly white, replace earlier dark colors. As the period progresses, more colors in various intensities and values become available, including pea green, olive green, gray green, gray, sky blue, straw yellow, and a variety of gray or brown stone colors. Stone colors are considered most appropriate for halls whereas stronger colors work better in other rooms. 

Floor materials are wood or masonry. Oak, pine, or fir board floors have random dimensions. Wood floors are not varnished, but they are scrubbed with sand or limewash that produces a silvery sheen. Parquet distinguishes the grandest rooms. Paint, in solids or patterns, disguises cheaper woods. Stone and marble floors are limited to entrances and ground-floor rooms because of their weight. They follow a variety of geometric patterns and colors, but black and white or grays are especially favored.

Wallpaper begins to be used in public and reception rooms during the period. The thick and heavy paper comes in squares, which are matched and glued to the wall. Backgrounds are colorwashed by hand, and patterns hand-blocked. Types include flocked papers imitating cut-piled fabrics, architectural papers, papers incorporating prints or antique statues, and simple repetitive patterns. 

 Textile use grows during the period as new inventions increase the speed of production, produce better products, and lower costs. Carpets and curtains become more common, and bedhangings are even more elaborate. Textiles provide much of the color in rooms. Typical textiles include velvets, silks, wools, linens, cottons, and leather.

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 Artificial lighting, generally minimal, comes primarily from fireplaces, rushlights, or candles; oil lamps are rare before the 1780s. Light fixtures include candlesticks, candelabra, and/or wall sconces. To increase light, candlesticks and candelabra are placed in front of mirrors, and sconces have mirrored or shiny metal backs. Shiny textures and glossy finishes also reflect and increase light. Although chandeliers of glass, wood, or metal are available, they remain rare in most homes.

 

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Written by callawayinteriordesign

June 1, 2012 at 8:02 pm

Posted in Uncategorized

Interiors

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Designers carefully calculate proportions of rooms, chimneypieces, door and window surrounds, and other details with complex formulas given by pattern book writers or the masters, such as Palladio, or derived from antique models.  Rooms are decorated according to their significance; the more important the room, the larger the scale and the more extravagant its decoration. The most lavish spaces are state apartments, reception rooms, and saloons, which reflect a formal way of life. With more emphasis on culture and learning, collectors display their assemblages in galleries or the traditional closet (a small, private room), and libraries become more common.

By mid-century, Rococo, Chinese, and Gothic forms and motifs appear more frequently on walls, ceilings, chimneypieces, textiles, wallpapers, and furniture. Rococo ornamentation mixes freely with Chinese and Gothic ornamentation, and some houses feature each public room in a different style.

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Colors: various intensities and values become available, including pea green, olive green, gray green, gray, sky blue, straw yellow, and a variety of gray or brown stone colors .

Floors. Floor materials are wood or masonry. Oak, pine, or fir board floors have random dimensions. Wood floors are not varnished, but they are scrubbed with sand or limewash that produces a silvery sheen. Parquet distinguishes the grandest rooms. Paint, in solids or patterns, disguises cheaper woods. Stone and marble floors are limited to entrances and ground-floor rooms because of their weight. They follow a variety of geometric patterns and colors, but black and white or grays are especially favored.

 

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Lighting. Artificial lighting, generally minimal, comes primarily from fireplaces, rushlights, or candles; oil lamps are rare before the 1780s. Light fixtures  include candlesticks, candelabra, and/or wall sconces. To increase light, candlesticks and candelabra are placed in front of mirrors, and sconces have mirrored or shiny metal backs. Shiny textures and glossy finishes also reflect and increase light. Although chandeliers of glass, wood, or metal are available, they remain rare in most homes.

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Furniture: The 18th century is a golden age in English furniture. People have more money to spend on furniture and demand higher standards in craftsmanship and comfort, as well as new types for special purposes. In response, several styles of furniture rapidly succeed each other during the Georgian period, and cabinetmaking becomes a profitable business.

Furniture selection and arrangements support room function with an emphasis on formality, harmony, and stylistic integration. Symmetry usually defines the placement of major pieces of furniture. The finest furniture occupies the best drawing room and is arranged around the perimeter of the room when not in use. Common furniture pieces include chairs, sofas, tables, secretaries, high chests of drawers, dressing tables, tall case clocks, fire screens, and beds. Card tables are introduced during Queen Anne’s reign, and their numbers increase with the popularity of card playing throughout the 18th century. 

Queen Anne (1702–1714):  Queen Anne style relies on silhouette and wood grain for beauty rather than applied decoration.  Curves dominate forms, and proportions are slender and elongated. Chairs, which are definitive of the style, have a curving hoop back with plain crest. The back may be spoon-shaped to fit the body. 

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Seating includes side chairs and armchairs , many forms of armchairs and armless chairs with upholstered seats and backs, easie chairs, settees and sofas. Side chairs and armchairs are more numerous and more common than settees and wing chairs. Sets of matching upholstered furniture fill important rooms in grand houses. The large, upholstered sofa, now an icon of the Chippendale style, is rare before mid-century.

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Written by callawayinteriordesign

May 30, 2012 at 1:14 am

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