What is Colonial Style Furniture?

What is Colonial Style Furniture?


Colonial style refers to a type of architectural and interior design that draws inspiration from the styles prevalent during the colonial period of a particular country. This style is commonly associated with the period when European colonizers settled in different regions around the world. Colonial style homes and furniture draw influence from the architectural and design elements of the colonial era, which can vary depending on the country or region in question. For example, you may find British colonial, Dutch colonial, Spanish colonial, or French colonial styles, each with their unique characteristics.

It’s important to note that colonial style can vary significantly based on the specific region or country it represents. For example, British colonial furniture might have different influences than Spanish colonial furniture. Nonetheless, the overall theme of simplicity, natural materials, and historical inspiration remains prevalent across colonial designs.


Breaking down Colonial Style Furniture


  • Simple and functional: Much like the Shaker style, colonial design values simplicity and functionality. Furniture pieces are typically straightforward, practical, and durable, serving their intended purposes effectively.
  • Natural materials: Crafted from natural materials such as wood, particularly hardwoods like oak, walnut, or mahogany. These materials are sturdy and can endure the test of time.
  • Carvings and detailing: While the overall design is usually simple, colonial furniture might incorporate subtle carvings and decorative detailing, especially on chair backs, table legs, or cabinet doors.
  • Rich finishes: Often features rich, dark finishes that enhance the natural beauty of the wood. These finishes, such as stains or lacquers, add depth and elegance to the pieces.
  • Classic patterns and fabrics: In colonial-style interiors, you might find classic patterns like damask, paisley, or floral prints used in upholstery, curtains, and bedding.
  • Timeless appeal: Colonial style exudes a sense of timelessness, with designs that have endured for centuries and continue to be appreciated for their historic charm and elegance.

Types of Colonial Style Furniture

Rocking Chair (1940) by LeRoy Griffith. Original from The National Gallery of Art. 

Colonial Dining Set: A colonial dining set typically includes a large rectangular table with sturdy legs and chairs. The table may feature carved details or decorative aprons, while the chairs often have slat backs or upholstered seats.

  • Four-Poster Bed: A four-poster bed with a canopy is a classic example of colonial style furniture. It typically features intricately turned posts and a decorative canopy frame, creating an elegant focal point in the bedroom.
  • Wingback Chair: The wingback chair is a classic colonial piece with high backrests and wings that extend from the sides. It provides a sense of comfort and grandeur, often upholstered in traditional fabrics like leather or floral prints.
  • Sideboard: A colonial sideboard is a versatile piece of furniture used for storage and serving. It typically has a long, low profile with drawers and cabinets for organizing dishes, linens, and other dining essentials.
  • Secretary Desk: A colonial secretary desk combines a writing surface with a hinged front that opens to reveal storage compartments and small drawers. It is a functional and stylish piece that blends well with traditional interiors.
  • Rocking Chair: A colonial rocking chair is a classic and comfortable addition to any living space. It often features a slat back, turned arms and legs, and curved rockers for a soothing rocking motion.

Benefits of Colonial Style Furniture

  • Timeless appeal: Has a timeless quality that transcends trends and fads. Its classic design and historical significance make it a lasting choice that can endure for years without losing its charm.
  • Elegance and sophistication: Often exudes an air of elegance and sophistication. The craftsmanship, attention to detail, and use of high-quality materials contribute to its refined and luxurious aesthetic.
  • Durability and quality: Typically crafted from durable materials such as hardwoods, which are known for their longevity. These pieces are built to withstand the test of time, making them a worthwhile investment for the long term.
  • Versatility: Complements a variety of interior design themes and styles. Whether your space leans towards traditional, eclectic, or even contemporary, colonial furniture can be incorporated seamlessly and add a touch of classic elegance.
  • Functional design: Prioritizes functionality and practicality. The pieces are designed with usability in mind, incorporating features such as storage compartments, drawers, and adjustable shelves, making them not just visually appealing but also highly functional.
  • Historical significance: Carries a historical significance and can evoke a sense of heritage and tradition. It can be a way to honor and pay homage to the craftsmanship and design principles of a specific time period or cultural influence.
  • Investment value: Due to its durability, quality craftsmanship, and timeless appeal, colonial style furniture can hold its value well over time. It can be considered an investment that not only enhances your living space but also retains its worth should you choose to sell or pass it down to future generations.

To sum Up

Colonial style furniture carries with it some of the history and tradition of the United States. Its simplistic yet elegant design adds a touch of nostalgia and grace to your living spaces. Whether you decide to add a single piece of colonial furniture, which is sure to be a conversation starter, or utilize this style for an entire room, you cannot go wrong with the durability, versatility and charm of colonial style furniture.

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