Colonial furnitureAcross the water in the United States, during the early Colonial period, most furniture arrived along with the first immigrants. They brought furniture pieces typical of the Jacobean and Carolean periods in Britain with them, and then later made their own furniture in a similar style. These pieces were generally sturdy and heavily carved, many with turned legs and bun feet. In the harsher environment of some of the Colonies these pieces were simpler representatives of their parent styles, befitting the more straightforward and utilitarian life of the settlers.

Other settlers also brought their influences with them to the colonies, most notably the Dutch and French in the Northeast, and the Spanish in the Southwest. Although recognisably different from the British inspired designs, the Dutch pieces are essentially in the same tradition. However the different climate and different wood available to Spanish colonists led to a distinctly different style known as Mission or Southwestern. By the end of the period, the influence of the British William and Mary style was beginning to show.

Compared to the Jacobean and Carolean pieces this style of furniture was lighter and more elegant. Inverted, cup-turned legs, bun feet, and serpentine stretchers made this a very identifiable style. The earliest American-made piece of furniture is a chest made by Nicholas Disbrowe around 1660. Uncompromisingly rectangular, its distinctively carved frame-and-panel construction, although very reminiscent of earlier British Age of Oak pieces, is already recognizable as a distinct American style. Many other early Colonial era pieces, such as wainscot chairs and heavy joint-tables, are similarly in the Age of Oak tradition.

Related Posts