Know Your Antique Furniture Legs (Part 1)
Furniture legs are an integral part of your furniture and play a huge part in wanting a certain piece of antique furniture in your home. Some antique furniture legs will suit a modern interior, and others may look better as part of an eclectic mix of furniture within your home, but ultimately it is all down to your personal taste. Knowing a bit about them can help you identify the period your antique furniture was made. Of course, you shouldn’t just use legs as an identifier, try looking at the feet as well – there can be many characteristics that will assist you in identifying your furniture.
A Cabriole leg is a curved furniture leg, two curves form the shape, the upper section curves outwards and the lower curves in. They were originally inspired by the appearance of a leaping goats leg. Commonly associated with Queen Anne and Chippendale period furniture it reappeared in a lot of Edwardian furniture. It was a popular style throughout 18th Century furniture and obviously continues to be used in reproduction furniture. With French furniture of the Louis XV style, the cabriole leg can be commonly found. These antique furniture legs often end in a ball and claw foot, or a pad foot. Cabriole legs are often seen on elegant Queen Anne style Lowboys, Side Tables, Dining Chairs, and Display Cabinets.
Fluted legs aren’t often seen after the 1900s, as unfortunately they did not seem to have the same popularity as the cabriole leg. They appeared in furniture design in the mid to late 18th century and are seen on Heppelwhite furniture. A long leg with a series of vertically carved grooves, they are sometimes slightly tapered towards the bottom. They often ended terminated in a simple turned toe, sometimes ebonised in English furniture, or Gilded in French Furniture.
First used on a Greek classical chair, or ‘klismos’, the Sabre leg flares out like the shape of a Sabre sword – where the name is taken from. The front leg flares outwards, and the back legs curve behind the seat. A popular leg style during the Regency and Empire period, and found commonly, but not exclusively in antique mahogany furniture. They were mainly used in chairs, such as arm chairs and dining chairs.
Sheraton Style Legs
Thomas Sheraton was a master cabinet maker and furniture designer and was influential between 1790 and 1820. Sheraton style legs are mostly straight, sometimes with tapering. They are often thinner which make a piece of furniture look lighter and with a more elegant, modern appearance. Sheraton legs fit well within a modern interior and antique Sheraton furniture remains popular to this day.
Barley Twist Leg
The Barley Twist Leg could have come to England from Portugal when Charles II married Katherine of Barganza in the 1600s. Its shape is taken from the ‘Solomonic column’, a column thought to have existed in the biblical Temple of Solomon. The shaft of the column is turned in a twisting pattern which makes a spiral. Early barley twists would have been carved by hand, by as advances were made, wooden lathes were used which made the process less time consuming. A very popular leg, used throughout furniture design for hundreds of years – it can be found in Moorish, Islamic, Byzantine, Baroque, Romanesque designs among many more. It was replicated during the Victorian era, and commonly known as a barley-sugar column.
Look out for Part 2 of our Know Your Antique Furniture Legs, when we have a look at some more styles.
Kernow Furniture is online store based near Redruth, Cornwall. We hold a large selection of furniture and decorative items. You can find many eras and styles of antique, retro, and vintage furniture, homeware and gifts. We offer fast national delivery on all items. We welcome viewings by appointment on 01209 316220.