There are likely many tourist attractions that you plan to visit during your European vacation, but in thinking strictly about historical events or popular places you could miss out on some amazing architecture, interior design, and furnishings.
As you go from site to site, pay attention to the décor and interior design trends of the period in question. The antique furniture found in these locations will give you some clues as to when events took place, or the last time that a castle or manor had been updated. French and English furniture trends have followed closely with rulership, and French furniture styles are defined by royal tastes.
Features of antique European furniture can tell you a lot about how people lived in those times. You will be able to see drastic improvements in furniture manufacture as the industrial revolution took hold. You will also be able to see how artisans carved furniture in their time, giving you valuable insight into what was important to people of that era.
Not sure what to look for as you browse Europe? Here are some of the most popular destinations and the furniture you will find there. Take note of anything that catches your fancy, as you might be able to find similar furniture when you return home.
French furniture trends, by royal rulership
The different periods of French furniture trends are most often named by the ruler in charge at the time. Here are some basic definitions of these different styles, all of which can be found throughout the manors, castles, and entertainment venues of Paris.
- The French Renaissance, which followed on the heels of the Italians, and was brought to France by Italian and Flemish artisans, is characterized by significantly ornate carvings in heavy wood furniture. This reflects the old Roman opulence for which the city had long been famous, and spans the 17th century.
- The Louis III French country interior design style was fueled by the increased accessibility of durable and fashionable furnishings that were once available only to the bourgeois. Furniture was no longer expected to simply show wealth, but now took on the added criteria of being comfortable.
- Just one regime later, the detailed opulence of the Baroque style took hold for almost a century. Sofas of this time period had fixed upholstery over heavily carved frames, while other furniture featured gold leaf or beautiful paintings.
- The Régence period of French furniture is easy to spot. The curved S of the legs of this furniture is a hallmark of the period and adds a bit of elegance and delicacy to furniture that is still rather opulent. These furnishings are often the most sought after by antique lovers.
- The Rococo style is often called the Golden Age of French furnishings. This style brings playful colors and fashions to the traditional opulence expected from the French. The frames are still delicate and ornate, but the seats are more focused on comfort with playful pastels and thick cushions.
The most sought after English furniture styles
English furniture trends are also closely aligned with their royalty. Just as in France, there are some trends that remain true throughout the ages. English furniture is simple but elegant, functional, and shows wealth.
The primary areas of English furniture that you will see throughout the places that they conquered include:
- Middle ages were defined by displays of noble birth and generational wealth, with sofas and other furnishings being made with heavy ornately carved furnishings similar to those used in France. The Elizabethan and Queen Anne eras remained similar but brought a more feminine touch to the design.
- The Victorian era of English furniture and architectural design was so popular that the trends raced around the world. You will see evidence of the Victorian era in furniture throughout your European tour.
- Most people don’t realize that the Art Deco style started in Europe. Any attractions furnished after the Roaring 20s are likely to have a few elements of Art Deco unless they are strict of another style.
Once you start seeing great examples of these furniture styles while on vacation, you might want to try them in your own home. Even if you can’t afford antiques, you can enjoy these styles by searching online for a sofa that matches your favorite eras like this one.