Design Elements

Design Elements:

Design Elements of Furniture Styles

Each of the major eras of furniture styles is marked by specific design elements and construction.  While it is impossible to describe each piece from a period, there are certain characteristics that are common to the style and the period.

It is important to note that while all the design elements may not be present in a piece of furniture, usually three or more are present and sufficient to determine the period.

As one period or style moved into the next there is usually a slight overlap in design, often combining one or more elements from both periods.  Often this blended overlap in design makes it harder to determine the exact style or era.

Our mission is to describe the basic design elements or characteristics of each period covered so the untrained eye can learn to spot the key elements to determine the style of the piece of furniture.  If there is anything that can be said, it is that learning to distinguish the styles becomes easier with time and practice.

How to Recognize Design Elements

Learning to recognize design elements comes with study and practice.  Many of us are already familiar with some of the elements that are attributed to the styles listed to the left — and we do not even know it!

For example, the cabriole leg which is common to Queen Anne tables and chairs and cabinets if probably one of the most recognizable elements.  We may not know the name of the element — cabriole.  Or, we may have heard “cabriole” mentioned in the description of a piece of furniture and wondered what it meant.

If someone mentions a word you may not be totally familiar with when describing a piece of furniture, do not be shy.  ASK!  If you are in a furniture store, ask the salesperson to point out the element.

I will make every effort to give an example and/or a definition of the elements as I come to them.  However, I cannot guarantee I will get to them all.

I would strongly suggest that you study the basics of the design elements so you will be familiar when you go shopping.