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Georgian furniture includes home furnishings that date from the mid 18th century to the mid 19th century. This style of furniture gets its name from Great Britain's King George I, II, and III, who reigned during this period. It was also during this time that the first Europeans settled in the Americas, so many early American furnishings were inspired by Georgian design. Much Georgian furniture design characteristics came in direct response to the heavy, Gothic style of the time. In contrast to these dark and heavy pieces, Georgian furniture styles are much lighter and more refined.
The Georgian period is often divided into three eras, with a different style of furniture distinct to each period. The early Georgian era lasted from roughly 1745 to 1780. During this time, Georgian furniture was characterized by its neo-palladian design, which was inspired by art and architecture of Italy. Early Georgian works were often over-the-top in terms of design and size, and were so expensive that only the very rich could afford them.
By the mid-Georgian period, furniture and design was more heavily based on a neoclassical style, with additional inspiration from the Greeks and Chinese. Furnishings during this era emphasized proportion and balance, and pieces were smaller and more affordable overall. The late Georgian period is often referred to as the golden age of furniture, and it was during this time that Georgian design hit its peak. The designers Chippendale and Hepplewhite were two of the most celebrated furniture makers of the period.
Georgian furniture is characterized by its focus on dainty structures and fine lines. Furnishings of this period often included ball feet or claw feet, and muted colors. Brass handles and hardware were common on many types of Georgian furniture, as were carved egg-and-dart, shell, or lion's-head patterns.
While earlier furniture makers relied on walnut, Georgian era furniture makers turned to mahogany instead. Compared to walnut, mahogany is strong and durable. It's naturally water resistant, and also offers natural resistance against worms and other pests.
Classic Georgian pieces include wind chairs and chaise lounges with elegant shapes and designs. Couches and chairs with scroll arms are also distinctive of the period. Buyers interested in Georgian furniture can also look for writing desks, marble-topped tables, and corner chairs and tables. While original works often come with a high price tag, recreations offer an affordable alternative to those looking for a Georgian-style design for less.