This post, I hope, is a very special treat featuring 80 + classic home furnishings!
Not too long ago, I received the most darling email from a reader named Patti. And this note was the spark that I needed to develop today’s topic about classic and timeless home furnishings.
Although, “classic home furnishings” is the over-riding theme of this entire body of blog posts, I’ve never actually put a list this large in one place.
Here’s what Patti said:
I want to say thank you for everything that you’ve shared with me (and others). I’m one of those people who took a little longer to discover my unique style (I’m 52). But, I guess, that’s partly because I’m notoriously thrifty and love a “good deal.”
However, I’ve come to learn that a good deal for me is actually something that I guess one would call classic home furnishings. (are those the same thing??)
To me, they are!
And, that I won’t have to replace, because the quality is poor or the items are so darn trendy that we all get sick of it quickly.
Anyway, we recently moved into our dream home, and I know I want to decorate in a way that truly expresses who we are.
To that end, I did an internet query where I began the search for “my style.” You might not think I’d have to get help with that, but I do. And, I like to think that what I love are classic and timeless home furnishings too! 😉
Luckily, your blog was one of the first things I came across. And, what a find it’s been! Your pictures are gorgeous, your advice is sooo helpful, and your humor aligns with my own. So, I find myself laughing out loud at times.
I’m so glad you’re enjoying my silliness!
And please know, I’m not writing to you to get advice or ask for a paint color or anything like that.
Thank you. I very much appreciate that. :]
You’ve already given so much to me, and you seem like a friend (not in a psycho stalker way, though!) 😉 So, I want to take a few minutes to say– THANK YOU!
It’s only “stalking” when one is annoying to the stalk-ee. Otherwise, it’s following, investigating, or research. Haha!
Thank you, too, for being willing to spend the time working on this blog, and thank you for sharing your talent, insight, and experiences! I love your blog, and I especially love the search box! Lol!
I hope you have a lovely week! Thank you again for adding beauty to my life and developing my unique style along the way!!
Thank you so much, Patti! I so appreciate the kind feedback!
But, let’s jump into the timeless and classic home furnishings because there’s a lot to see and discuss.
I actually created a list on a separate notepad so that I wouldn’t forget anything. But of course, it’s inevitable to leave many things out. In a bit, there’s going to be a super beautiful (well, I think so) widget filled with some of my favorite timeless and classic home furnishings. Some you’ve probably seen, but there are about 20 items I’ve never published before.
First, what constitutes timeless and classic home furnishings?
Classic can mean different things in terms of home furnishings, but a great place to begin is with the origins of classic design.
And that is Greece and Rome. This is an excellent post that explains a lot about that.
Anything that is created in that manner after that, the classical Greek and Roman period is referred to as neo-classical. The hey-day of the neo-classical period was in the late 18th century into the early 19th century. There are different terms you’ll hear, such as:
All of these terms are part of the neo-classical period.
What about HOLLYWOOD REGENCY, Laurel?
Well, that’s a 20th-century style that incorporates mid-century with Chinoiserie and tropical themes one would’ve found during the mid-century Hollywood heyday.
my pics above and below from the High Point Market in 2016
Interior designer Ruthie Sommers is known for her Hollywood Regency style
Neo-classical furnishings were also inspired by exotic lands in the east, from Greece to Egypt, India, China, and Japan.
And, it was during the 18th century that the term Chinoiserie was coined. Chinoiserie was as wildly popular then as it is now. This is much like the renewed popularity of composers like Mozart (click here if you’d like to check out some gorgeous Mozart music), who was also a part of the neo-classical period concurrent with architectural and design styles.
Therefore, anything created in this period. OR, a faithful contemporary reproduction is, in my opinion, timeless. And that includes all of the architectural elements of the period.
For more about classical architectural elements, please check this post out.
This time in history is the basis for all classical architecture and design.
There was a resurgence of the neo-classical style in the early 20th century. This is known as the Beaux-Arts style. One of the finest examples of that period is the New York Public library at 42nd and 5th in New York City.
The Bronxville home I was privileged to work on was built around 1910 and embodied the neo-classical Beaux-Arts style with its perfect proportions and classical design elements throughout the home.
Sounds pretty simple. So, what’s the problem?
That is an excellent question. Thank you for asking. ;]
The problem is that there are well-meaning folks, I’m sure (well, actually, I’m not sure), who design home furnishings. Sometimes it appears that they’ve just made up some weirdtastic thing. Other times it appears that they have taken the classical designs and either made something up that should not be there; or, they took the basic idea and blew it up to be about 30% larger than it should be.
And/or, the proportions are bad.
In short, it’s wrong. It’s not in any way classical.
It’s Laurel’s favorite word to describe abominable furnishings?
The thing is… Many people don’t realize that it’s wrong because there is a glut of bloated, badly proportioned, flabby furniture prevalent in the marketplace.
In the widget, I include much furniture that is in the manner of the 18th-century neo-classical style. None of it is that old, although many of these pieces are antiques. If you don’t already know, if a piece of furniture was not made at the precise time the original style was made, it is called Chippendale STYLE. Or, neo-classical STYLE.
Below is the widget. This was a fun one to put together. Please click on any image if you’d like to find out more. Some of these are one-of-a-kind pieces.
Most of these pieces were heavily influenced by the neo-classical period of the late 18th and early 19th centuries.
Below are some posts that further expand on the idea of classical home furnishings.
- Traditional mahogany furniture is actually pretty easy to find these days.
- Classic art
- Oriental rugs – Hand-knotted if you can swing it.
- A strong influence of Chinoiserie and Chinese Chippendale
There are also some contemporary classics such as:
Please note: I’m working every day on the new Best of Etsy Guide, coming out next week.
Yes, I just did a post about 40 of my favorite Etsy shops for 2021. This guide will have at least 100 sources, and I think more because I’m almost at 100, and I still have several shops I want to include.
Over the past several years, every time I find a shop I like, I make a note of it. Some of the shops go out of business. And, some of them had great merch at the time, but not so much now. Therefore, I’m constantly editing my list. Plus, I’m constantly finding new and terrific shops to share with you.
please pin to Pinterest for reference
Well, I could’ve kept going. There are 100s of classic and timeless home furnishings. The idea of this exercise was to choose items that you hopefully won’t think of ten years: “ugh, what was I thinking?”
This neo-classical style has been my favorite ever since beginning design school in 1988. One of my first assignments was to design a room. I had no idea where to begin. So, I went to the library and got a book. Somewhere in that book, I found it. It was in this style. The space was beautifully symmetrical and filled with shades of green. At the time, my design idols were John Saladino, Victoria Hagan, Stephen Sills, and Vicente Wolf. Well, they still are to this day.
PS: Please check out the newly updated hot sales! There are numerous early black Friday sales.
Please check out the new Holiday Shop 2020 for holiday decor and gift ideas for just about everyone.
What a nice letter!! I say Ditto, I always read the whole post and look at every photo which can take hours, I am so glad you only post a few times a week.
I bought the David light switch! So funny, so adorable. That shop has lots of fun stuff considering it’s light switch plates!!
Years and years before I consciously knew the difference between classic proportions and ersatz furniture, I could still see it and feel it. I’d look at some modern-day furniture and just know it was wrong. I especially noticed a lot of ersatz dining room furniture.
I love Swedish Gustavian as an inspiration starting point, but with a lot more color than you usually see. I know they used bold colors, but we don’t tend to see much color these days when people do Gustavian rooms.
Terrific post, thank you!!!
I had the same issue when viewing from my iphone, when I switched to my computer, I could see the widget.
When using your phone, please check your settings. It’s usually an ad blocker that’s been enabled, I believe.
Please, please do a blog about French country and how it does/does not fit into classical style. Is it too recent? Is it not a style at all? I am mightily confused. I understand that French Provincial may or may not be an invented style, but I can’t, for the life of me delineate between French country which includes pieces which might be called Louis XVI side by side with pared down pieces called French country. I see a mix of both in many Frenchified (lol, how the French would hate that made up word!)rooms. And then there is something called country French modern. Clearly, that is not classical?
I ‘think’ that I love a mix of Swedish Gustavian, Louis XVI, simple French country and Shaker? Am I nuts? Probably and certainly in other areas not design related.
Maybe this post will help, Ramona.
Thank you, what a fabulous post this is! I hope that some people from the home furnishings industry will read this and take heed. I resonate with your experience in finding your taste. I had a similar experience when I went to college and took design courses, even thought that was not my major. From that time I find that certain items instantly conk me over the head with their beauty, and I think its because whatever it is inevitably has classical lines and proportions. I was fortunate that I was exposed to classic design from an early age – my grandmother’s house was an eclectic mix of traditional with a touch of Hollywood Regency, and the house I grew up is was very “Williamsburg”. My own house is now an eclectic mix of classically proportioned items. Ironically, I have had a number of items from your post on my Pinterest pages, including Apollo – he is PERFECT. I’ve been looking at him for six months, and now I’m “sorry, not sorry” for buying the last one 😉
Thanks again for such great work. You have the artistic version of “perfect pitch”.
Love it…but is this a click on the picture/product widget? Nothing happens when I tap an item.
please check your settings if using a mobile device or it should be fine on a computer.
I definitely second FB Marketplace. It’s not a quick fix, but patience can pay off. I’ve bought a 70s Drexel Heritage dresser with brass handles, an knockoff Espana chest, some beautiful vintage chippendale chairs. Our budget is very limited so it’s nice to pick up good quality furnishings for a price my family can afford.
This was a lot of fun! I’ve been eyeing a pair of Charleston armchairs by Theodore Alexander just like the pair above and the very same Hollyhock pillow! Awesome to see great furniture such as the Baker book case. I’m a great fan of vintage furniture, Baker, Henredon, Drexel, and rather spend on these than the new vogue, glued together things, often it ends up being cheaper too! WSJ had an article last year about brown furniture making a comeback as people are now looking for quality which is not to be found in new/imported productions and sales of vintage furniture from the 70s, 80s has increased in recent years. The Turkish rug has such gorgeous faded colors, but alas, so expensive! Danish Country on Charles street has beautiful second hand/floor sample Chapman/Visual Comfort lamps at half price, got quite a few table lamps from them, keep them in mind if you need lamps.
For Linda Larson – I have the Hickory Chair “Emory” sofa and two chairs and ottomans by Suzanne Kasler. The sofa can be bought in many different lengths and the legs in different styles and finishes. I love them all.
I was just thinking about that gray post you linked to under Adam! I usually stick to the classical, traditional interiors corner of the internet, like you, The Glam Pad, Chinoiserie Chic, etc. But I was looking for a forum to be able to post my own room for ideas, and it thrust me into the wide world where home trend gray dominates, and every single item is gray or white, or gray and white buffalo check, and the sectionals are 60″ deep. I sometimes forget what it’s like out there, enshrined as I am in my bubble. But it’d be a fun challenge to spin those gray trends into a traditional room, minus the sectionals of course. Wish there was a forum for more classic design on reddit or something.
I’m excited for the holiday shop! Trying to track down some blue xmas stockings presently.
For Linda Larson. One Kings Lane Brooke club chair is perfect for me. I am just waiting for fabric swatches before I order mine. I already have the Brooke 2 cushion sofa, was thrilled to find a sofa that was not too small or too large!
Very helpful information on how to explain classic design. I encourage my clients to stay within a classic and timeless design aesthetic. Thank you for your post!
Hello Laurel, I have found some great bargains on Facebook Marketplace. Most importantly, take time there to be sure of size and condition.
I am interested in buying two smaller to medium size English roll arm chairs, preferably tight back, for my living room. I am finding many are rather large. We are average size people, 5’4” and 5’ 10”. Do you have any suggestions?
Hello Laurel, A good place to look for classical furnishings at a reasonable (or bargain) price is at house sales in expensive neighborhoods. These houses were often furnished when classical style was more common, and the people who lived there could afford originals or good copies like the Baker pieces you mentioned several times. These days Classical is not always an instant sale, and furthermore you can negotiate the prices.