Decorative design features used in vintage furniture

We have seen a rise in the use of vintage furniture in interior design, and it's no surprise why. Vintage furniture brings a unique quality to a room compared with furniture that has been mass produced. Vintage furniture is often a popular choice because of the high quality it represents, which comes from the intricate work and superior craftsmanship used when it was produced. In fact, choosing vintage furniture is seen as an investment because the pieces are hardwearing and the designs continue to stay relevant.

The vintage category spans several decades so you can choose pieces that are specific to an era you like. For example, you can choose pieces from art deco furniture to mid-century furniture or even something a little more recent. When it comes to choosing a piece of vintage furniture, it can sometimes be a little difficult to differentiate between the era it was produced. To help you find perfect piece of furniture for your home design, here are some common features that are found in vintage furniture.

Styles of feet and legs

The styles of feet used in vintage furniture vary depending on the century. The 17th century saw the use of the styled feet on coffers and the rise of the bun foot. As we moved into the 18th century, the splayed bracket foot was used and the 19th century saw the use of the C-style bun foot. Legs in vintage furniture also changed throughout the centuries. In the 17th, there was a strong use of double scroll and reversed scroll legs, then as the 18th century came along, there was a rise in the design of reeded, spade and sabre legs. Moving into the 20th century, we see decorative versions of all of these and many other feet and leg styles, especially in art deco pieces where the emphasis was on eye-catching designs. Decorative feet and legs are one of the distinguishing features of classic pieces of vintage furniture.


Styled handles

The way in which handles are styled on vintage furniture is a specific decorative feature which helps retain the vintage appeal. There are lots of different styled handles available, ranging from oval, spiral/swirl and concentric style knobs to dropper and bar style pull handles. As with other elements of the furniture, handles, handle backplates and even locks were embellished with intricate designs.

Veneer cuts & inlay designs

One of the key design features in many pieces of vintage furniture is veneer cuts and inlay designs. Emphasising the grain of the wood or creating designs with contrasting woods is common with certain eras. Some pieces also feature intricate inlay designs using different woods or even bone or shell.


Dovetail Joints

Dovetail joints are a common feature found in older furniture. Usually found on the joining corners of drawers, a dovetail joint resembles triangular cuts that slot together. Dovetail joints are generally used for added strength, one of the reasons that vintage furniture is so durable. Look out for dovetail joints on wooden furniture and cabinets.

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