Renaissance style furniture is one of the most popular styles of antique furniture in our online store EuroLuxHome.com because it has a timeless elegance and nobility and it is easily adaptable to today’s homes. If you don’t know the history of Renaissance style furniture and how to recognize it, here’s your guide to help you decorate your own home with this refined and classic look.
Formal Renaissance Dining Room
The Origins of Renaissance Style Furniture
The Renaissance period — meaning “rebirth” — emerged in Italy in the 15th century and lasted well into the 16th century. This period was a pivotal cultural movement that marked a huge shift in thinking, science, and art in Europe. The Italian Renaissance is the most well known, but this cultural shift was evident across the world. This exciting period was a bridge between the medieval period and the pre-industrial modern age and amazing Italian craftsmen and artists like Leonardo da Vinci and Michelangelo rose to fame. The new aesthetic in arts and architecture was inspired by the classical arts of ancient Rome and Greece. Rich aristocrats like the Medici family in Florence flaunted their wealth, good taste and artistic patronage by furnishing their fabulous homes, as well as public buildings, with impressive furniture with ornate carvings in fine wood. The Roman and Greek influences resulted in classical shapes and motifs, including mythological motifs, becoming a common theme in the decorative arts. Many of these works can be still be found in historic places across Europe.
Antique French Renaissance buffet in the kitchen
Renaissance Revival Furniture
The Renaissance era had such a deep impact that even hundreds of years later, craftsmen were still trying to emulate its accomplishments. This furniture style became popular again in 19th century France. People in the newly affluent middle class after the Industrial Revolution were keen to furnish their homes with large, opulent furniture with heavy carving to display their new status. The antique Renaissance style furniture that we sell today is from this Revival period, dating to the late 19th and early 20th century and imported from Europe. This is the same era as the Victorian age (sometimes called the 2nd English Renaissance) in Great Britain, which shared a lot of the same looks, values, and art. If you have a Victorian Renovation home, you can happily decorate with Renaissance Revival furniture!
Antique French Renaissance style server sideboard, with a queen’s face carved into the top and a marble counter.
Typical Renaissance Style Furniture Features
When browsing this style of antique furniture you can expect to see:
When browsing this style of antique, revival style furniture, you can expect to see:
- Large proportions and sturdy silhouettes are a key part of this furniture design.
- Mostly hand-carved, heavily-carved ornamentation, and beautiful ornate carving across the fronts of cabinets and buffets.
- Classical motifs included scrollwork, arabesque designs, flourishes, garlands of flowers and fruit.
- Greek and Roman mythological references carved into the wood-these include mythic creatures, plus lions, cherubs and human faces, as well as grotesque faces that remind us of gargoyles.
- Classical era decoration, such as arches, pediments, cornices and columns on furniture hark back to ancient Greek and Roman architecture.
- Galleries of spindles add to the architectural style and also serve as plate racks on buffets and servers.
- Finials on buffets and chair backs add a regal finishing touch.
- Furniture wood is most often dark oak or walnut.
- Veined marble is used in heavier furniture making, like for tops on buffets, servers and sideboards.
- Brass or metal handles sometimes adorn the backs of dining chairs.
- Rich upholstery includes tapestry style fabrics, silks, jacquards and brocades. Also leather and embossed leather upholstery on dining chairs, like this set of six antique French Renaissance Henry II style dining chairs dating to 1900.
Different Renaissance Furniture Styles
Several distinctive styles emerged during this Renaissance Revival period. The most popular with our customers are:
Renaissance Henry II style
With a focus on classical symmetry and architectural influences, the dignified Renaissance Henry II style often boasts carved arches and columns, imposing pediments and decorative finials. This regal style especially appears in dining chairs and in buffets and servers. See more details in my blog post What is the Renaissance Henry II Style of Furniture?
French Hunting Style
Antique French Hunting style furniture was also a key look in this Renaissance Revival era. Our Guide to French Hunting Style Furniture and Decor shows you more details of this trend which was originally designed to furnish royal hunting lodges and chateaux. This French furniture often features carved wild animals that you might see on the hunt, game birds and fish, mythical creatures such as griffins, as well as fruits, flowers, leaves, entwined vines and grapes.
Bring the Renaissance Style Into Your Decor
In addition to heavily carved antique Renaissance style furniture, you can also bring the Renaissance look into your home with decorative accessories (available at EuroLuxHome.com) and interior design elements such as:
- Renaissance style vintage and new chandeliers
- Decorative tapestries and wall hangings
- Arch shaped mirrors to evoke classical architecture
- Richly hand-woven throw pillows
- Cherub sculptures
- Brick or tile floors in earthy brown tones, patterned in geometric style
- Wallpaper that looks like a mural fresco
French Renaissance Buffet with carving of knight on horseback
Renaissance Style Furniture in Today’s Homes
You can see how some of our customers have added antique Renaissance style furniture to their homes in our “customer spotlight” blog posts:
This style is perfect for a Victorian Era home and for anyone who enjoys traditional decor and beautiful craftsmanship and who wants a comfortable but classical look.
If you are shopping for Renaissance style furniture you can browse our large selection of exceptional antique furniture at the link.
Aimee owns EuroLuxHome.com with her husband and best friend, Greg. Aimee sources amazing antique furniture, vintage lighting, & high-quality reproduction furniture to help her customers decorate their homes in a unique way. She loves her 9 (you read that right) fuzzy children and is renovating a 1920s bungalow in South Carolina. Find us on Facebook or you can sign up here to receive this blog in your inbox.