Although the furniture kits we sell on this website are usually in the Antebellum, craftsman, or mission style, there are many other styles that are typically American. Early American Style is aptly named, for it reflects the furniture made by colonists in the early 17th century. It can be recognized by slender and graceful lines and proportions, and the use of inlays and relief carving to emphasize color. Early American Style is usually described as light and delicate.
The lightness becomes particularly evident when the furniture is compared to styles that immediately preceded or followed it. The fragile look of many chairs, table and case pieces comes from the long, thin proportions. Craftsmen sought to translate their understanding of the ancient system of proportion to the design of the furniture, and this contributes to its refined appearance. Based on the diameter of a column, the classical proportional system dictated that height, width and depth should be related.
Early American style emphasizes rectilinear relationships that result in crisp edges. Furniture makers sought unity in composition and used smooth, continuous lines to define forms and shapes. Curved lines, so essential to the baroque and rococo styles, do not disappear in this style, but they do become less dominant and shallower. For instance, a worktable made using this style may have a rectangular work box with canted or slanted corners sits atop slim, curved, tapered legs and curved stretchers, showing how line and geometry emphasize the light, delicate look. Decoration is woven into the two dimensional design.
The emphasis on lines gives this furniture a sharply geometric look, not only in forms but also in decoration. Circles, rectangles, squares, and ovals are integrated into the design of an object. Early American furniture is rich with contrasting veneers and inlays in exotic woods, pictorial inlays, paint, gilt and gesso, fine carving and classical motifs; urns, swags, paterae, volutes, acanthus leaves, and husks. The golden grain of satinwood and birch made it an ideal choice for both veneers and inlays. Although decorations are sparse, the most American part of Early American Style furniture could be the eagle that is often used as a decorative theme: the sign of America as a free nation.