By Steve Rose, Werner Lowe
Wednesday, July 20th, 2011 10:00 AM CST
The Pedigree of Traditional Style Interior Design
Queen Anne style became popular during the last quarter of the 19th century and is derived from the influence of Richard Norman Shaw, who was an influential Victorian architect in England. These furnishings are graceful with simple lines, and arched accents. They are characterized by a carved cockle or scallop shell, often situated on the top of a desk or on the front of a chest. Sometimes a smaller shell was carved on the knee of a chair or table leg.
Queen Anne-style pieces are also known for their ball-and-claw footed cabriole legs, violin chair backs, and decorative turned finials. Some furnishings are finished with a shiny lacquer, but most are varnished with a dark stain.
Chippendale style is one of the most well-known traditional furniture designs. These designs take their name from Thomas Chippendale, an 18th-century cabinetmaker who incorporated English, Gothic and Chinese motifs into his furnishings. These pieces are traditionally made from mahogany and other solid woods, which can accommodate the elaborate carvings that are the hallmark of this style.
Chippendale style is more elaborate than Queen Anne, with a greater use of carving, the addition of fretwork, and rich upholstery in brocades, velvets and damasks. The signature of this style is the cabriole leg, which ends in one of six different feet–the lion’s paw, the ball and claw, the late Chippendale, the Marlborough, and the club and the spade.
Thomas Sheraton is another British furniture designer whose name became associated with a style of furniture that was fashionable during the late-18th and early-19th centuries. His designs are characterized by delicate, straight lines, contrasting veneers and neoclassical motifs and ornamentation. The legs of Sheraton’s furnishings are slender and fluted, round or square, and tapered to natural or spade-style feet.
Unlike Chippendale, Sheraton used carving sparingly and incorporated simple ivory or brass key plates and metal drawer pulls. He also turned away from curved lines in favor of straight lines and rectangular designs with an emphasis on vertical lines.
Basic Concepts of Traditional Interior Design
Fabrics for traditional design schemes trend towards floral, solids, muted plaids, understated stripes, and tone- on-tone patterns. Make sure you keep your fabric choices to three or four at most in any room. Too many will create chaos, avoid shiny, or textured. Instead choose chintz, crewel or velvet.
Colors in a traditional home should remain in the mid-tone range, avoiding bright or jarring, maintaining a palette that feels comfortable to you–blues, greens, yellows, light oranges, pale reds, and neutrals. Color combinations should be complementary when choosing different colors for other or adjoining rooms, make sure the transition between the rooms is easy on the eyes. For example, don’t paint your dining room a bright red if your living room is covered with gold’s or greens. The colors should flow throughout the home. Paint your crown moldings and chair rails a bright white or stain them a color to match your furniture.
Keep your accessories comfortable and subtle. Traditional interiors are characterized by symmetry and lack of clutter. Opt for classic urns, china or porcelain vases, and a matched set of framed art, mirrors, and perhaps a leather-bound book collection. Lamps should be adorned with plain, silk shades, all bedrooms and dining areas should feature crisp, clean linens in muted tones and free of pattern.