Colonial furniture is in fact, a stunning mixture of two great and old cultures, East and West. These two ancient styles have blend into one piece in a spectacular and unique way. Sobriety, innovation and design, purity of lines and the modernity of Western culture, are merged with materials, handcrafts and amazing finishes, which are specific to the Eastern culture.
Colonial Style – A little History and Today
Colonial style has become very popular today and exotic wood furnishings, tropical prints, bamboos, rattans, decorative elements illustrating plants and animals have invaded our homes.
But the story is much older, everything starting 150 years ago. During Queen Victoria reign, the British have colonized the world, starting from India, West Indies and surrounding areas. British population who lived overseas have united the traditional English way of home decorating with local craft items, customs and climate being of course, important factors in defining the style. This mixture between West and East, have occurred in both geographic areas, England and the colonies, the style being better defined later.
– Exotic objects such – bamboo decorations, Chinese porcelain, rugs, collections of exotic plants and animals (tortoiseshell, fur and animal heads) have been brought home. Nowadays all these objects are reproduced, but preserving patterns and exotic materials such as leather and exotic natural wood.
– Fabrics and their use ways are also brought to the west. Curtains are e.g. used not only for windows, but also for bed or between rooms, veils and Indian silks being able to create that romantic touch in the colonial houses. This have started in fact, from a necessity in the exotic and warm areas, namely to protect from dust and insects.
– The precious Persian carpets of the British people were replaced by tribal and rustic models or braids of seaweed.
– In colonies, the traditional English furniture begins to be produced by local artisans from exotic woods. However, lines and shapes of the furniture, once rich in decorations and ornaments get simplicity because of the exotic wood strength but also because the working techniques have been forgotten.
Colonial Style Features
1| Materials: English Colonial style is composed of elements from the Caribbean, Far East, Africa and even Hong Kong. The materials seem rather designed for outdoor decoration – bamboo poles, algae, braids, rope, rattan, raffia, exotic wood … but brought into the interior get a unique personality, able to bring with them the paradise and mystery of countries to which they belong.
2| Colonial Sub-Styles: Colonial style brings the geographic zone air, in which it is used, or the sea, forest, flora, fauna, thus dividing in several sub-styles.
3| The Furniture: Most of the furniture has simple lines but the decorative quality and texture of tropical wood, gives him a demanding line style. Colonial furniture is generally massive, large, and is suitable for generous interiors. Decorative elements are of great importance, as they are the ones that shape this style and offers uniqueness, intimacy and exoticism.
4| Textile Items: Because wood furniture is usually dark, textile items such as pillows, curtains and blankets should have fresh and warm colors with natural or ethnic patterns.
5| Rugs & Carpets: The Carpets and rugs are distinct by their “animal print”, which provides a wild exotic look that highlights the close relationship between this style and nature.
6| Decorative Objects: As decorative objects, ceramics, sculptures, masks, ivory statuettes and all souvenirs from trips complement this type of decoration.
7| Plants: When we talk about nature we cannot forget the large plants, which should not miss from this scenery.
Colonial Style Influences
Colonial style has several influences. Western style collides with Chinese Spirit, with the fragrance of India, uncovers the mysteries of Indonesia or borrows some elements from Spanish Hacienda.
In Indonesia, the wood is omnipresent and skilled craftsmen have borrowed from their techniques. Colonial style respects and preserves these techniques. Chinese furniture reflects the perfect balance between practical and spiritual.
Feng Shui followers for example, have brought furniture with lines that allow circulation of the energy flow. Fragrance, color and sound of India are related to spirituality embodied in appearance.
The various colors of Spain are borrowed from its traditional art and specific Mediterranean objects such as ceramic, leather, fabrics that bring to your home a more cheerful look.
Colonial Style Types
Colonial style is of many types. The mixture of East and West has several alternatives. English Colonial style is nevertheless the core of this style, the English people having as a hobby the collecting of exotic objects.