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  • Robert Adam: a genius contribution to the neoclassical style

    Posted 23 April 2021

    Robert Adam: a genius contribution to the neoclassical style

    Robert Adam was not only the foremost architect of his age, but one of the most influential architects of all time.

    Born in 1728, Robert helped pioneer neoclassicism with contributions to architecture, interior design and furniture design throughout his lifetime.

    The neoclassical style drew inspiration from the art and culture of Ancient Greece and Rome. Transforming Palladian Neoclassicism in England, Robert, alongside his brother James Adam, led the first phase of the classical revival in England and Scotland.

    Adam’s era saw mansions with immaculate design details sought after by wealthy politicians, having benefited from the union of Scotland and England in the 18th century.

    Robert Adam fit the bill perfectly with his intense eye for detail and somewhat stubbornness to complete all designs himself, from grand buildings to small individual objects.

    As such, Robert’s designs had a sense of ‘flow’ that hadn’t been seen previously, making him one of the most highly sought-after architects of his day.

    Adam’s family history

    Robert was born at Gladney House in Kirkcaldy, Fife on 3 July 1728. Being the son of renowned architect William Adam (1689-1748), Robert was born into the profession.

    The Adam children were brought up in a well-connected 18th-century family in a highly stimulating and intellectual environment.

    William Adam’s position as Master Mason to the Board of Ordnance saw him supervise the construction of country houses and military buildings in the Palladian style.

    William was truly influential in his children’s career, having Robert and all his brothers work in the family business, making the Adam practice truly a family affair.

    However, it was Robert that stood out from the siblings, blessed with a high level of determination coupled with the confidence to push the boundaries beyond the limitations of 18th century architecture.

    Early years

    Robert’s initial interest was more tailored towards becoming an artist rather than an architect

    From 1734 and at the age of six, Robert Adam attended Royal High School Edinburgh; the curriculum was highly focused on Latin, exposing Robert to the culture of Ancient Rome from an early age.

    He then went on to matriculate at The University of Edinburgh (then Town’s College) in 1743.

    His studies were cut short after two years due the 1745 Jacobite rising as well as a serious illness which lasted several months.

    After overcoming illness in 1746, Robert trained under his father in the family business as an apprentice; assisting on projects such as the building of Inveraray Castle and more famously Hopetoun House.

    Interestingly, Robert’s initial interest was more tailored towards becoming an artist rather than an architect.

    Death of William Adam

    Robert was only 20-years old when his father died in 1748. His older brother John took over the family business, quickly creating a partnership with Robert, and the ‘Adam Brothers’ name was born.

    Importantly, John upheld his father’s position on the Board of Ordnance which subsequently provided lucrative work for Adam Brothers through the continuance of architectural and contracting business.

    Their first major commission involved the interior of Hopetoun House, followed by a private commission to build Dumfries House.

    Following on from the failed Jacobite rebellion, the Adam Brothers picked up work on reconstructing numerous Highland forts; noticeably Fort George in 1750 which heavily influenced the brothers’ foundational knowledge in practical building.

    The partnership quickly became profitable and by 1754, Robert had saved £5000 which allowed him to take up the offer of accompanying the Earl of Hopetoun’s younger brother, Charles Hope, to Italy.

    Grand tour

    Piranesi was a great architect and engraver and his meeting with Robert Adam proved a monumental moment in his career

    Robert Adam’s grand tour of Europe (1755-1757) allowed him to see the greatest sights of the Roman Empire and the architecture of the Renaissance.

    He spent a notable amount of time in Italy, undertaking intense professional training; learning drafting and drawing skills by admiring Roman ruins and developing his own unique style.

    Whilst in Rome, Robert and Hope fell out over travelling expenses and the pair split; Robert stayed on without him, accompanied by two tutors; Charles-Louis Clérrisseau and Giambattisto Piranesi.

    Piranesi was a great architect and engraver and his meeting with Robert Adam proved a monumental moment in his career.

    He taught the aspiring architect a great many things about classicism and draughtsmanship, and their friendship allowed Robert to embrace uniqueness and not be restricted by cultural or academic tradition.

    Piranesi published his Diverse Maniere d’adornare i cammini, after Adam’s visit, his final polemical work. It included designs for interior fittings, including chimneypieces, and was of great importance to the Adam architectural practice.

    Robert wrote many letters to his family whilst on the Great Tour. The content suggests Robert was incredibly driven to become the most prominent architect in Britain as well as a ruthless social climber.

    During his two years away, Robert placed great emphasis on pursuing contacts which would be beneficial to him and his brother, James, when setting up their London office on his return.

    The ‘Adam Style’

    Robert swayed from the traditional Palladian style, taking inspiration from Greek, Byzantine and Italian Baroque styles

    After returning from his tour, Robert Adam moved to London in 1758 where he established a practice with the help of his younger brother James.

    The time couldn’t have been more fitting for Robert as interest in classical architecture swept across England, with the wealthy being drawn to the style and proportions of buildings of Ancient Rome.

    The Adam brothers designed numerous country houses in this style and it only took Robert five years to become a highly recognised architect of the high society set.

    However, in a somewhat rebellious manner, Robert swayed from the traditional Palladian style, taking inspiration from Greek, Byzantine and Italian Baroque styles.

    The ‘Adam Style’ had an air of lightness, freedom and elegant lines which were unbound by strict classical proportions. This can be seen in well-known buildings today such as Portland Palace, London.

    Focus on interiors

    He had very few opportunities for large-scale design, with much of his work throughout the early 1760s being the remodelling of existing houses

    By the time Robert returned from his tour, many of the Whig aristocrats had already built their large homes and were largely looking for Robert to design the interiors.

    Therefore, he had very few opportunities for large-scale design, with much of his work throughout the early 1760s being the remodelling of existing houses.

    Robert still managed to place his own architectural flare on his interiors; designing everything from ceilings down to the tiniest details, such as door fittings - every surface was treated as part of the bigger picture.

    He was stubborn in that he wanted to design everything himself, however this resulted in a great sense of unity and flow throughout his projects.

    The furniture designed by Adam had the purpose of blending the design of houses; his furniture style was made popular by cabinetmaker George Hepplewhite.

    The ‘Adam Style’ uses few ornaments, carefully designed from ancient and Renaissance sources, wall paintings and room decorations. Carpets were designed to match the ceiling above and everything was custom designed, down to the very smallest of details.

    See below an example of a small early 19th century cast iron antique hob grate which was designed in the style of Robert Adam.

    Robert did, however, have the chance to build a few exteriors; Bowood House and Admiralty Arch being the best surviving examples.

    Adam Brother’s projects

    The brothers’ first major commission was the continuation of Hopetoun House, Queensferry which their father began. This was eventually completed in 1767.

    Another early project undertaken by Robert in London was the Admiralty Screen (c.1760). The brothers began their first completely new house, Mersham-le-Hatch, in 1762, completed in 1772.

    Other large-scale projects include the interior designs for Syon House (1762-69), London. The brothers also designed a variety of romantic neo-Gothic castles in Scotland, such as Dalquharran Castle (1777-90).

    See below a very rare, early Georgian Portland stone fireplace designed by Robert Adam specifically to be used in Dalquharran Castle.

    Robert was tasked with designing The University of Edinburgh in 1789; possibly his most impressive exterior. However, by this point his popularity was beginning to decline.

    Robert Adam: legacy and death

    On 3 March 1792, Robert Adam died suddenly in his London home at the age of 64 after a blood vessel or ulcer burst in his stomach. He was later buried in Westminster Abbey.

    Having never married, Robert left his estate to his sisters Elizabeth and Margaret Adam. He left nearly 9,000 drawings of which the majority were purchased by architect John Soane in 1833 for £200 (now displayed at the Soane Museum, London).

    His designs can also be seen in the two volumes that Robert and James Adam published in Works in Architecture from 1773.

    Robert Adam truly brought his own distinct classical style to European architecture and the ‘Adam Style’ will always have a lasting influence on British architecture and interior design.


  • The Jacobean era: a guide to designs, interiors and furnishings

    Posted 23 April 2021

    The Jacobean era: a guide to designs, interiors and furnishings

    The Jacobean era has given us some fine antiques, often highly coveted by collectors.

    In this article we look at the rich history that gave rise to its characteristic styles of architecture, interior design and furniture.

    The Jacobean era: The historical context

    The Jacobean era (from Jacobus, Latin for James) was the period in English and Scottish history from 1597-1625. The era coincides with the reign of James VI of Scotland, who also inherited the English throne as James I in 1603 upon the death of Elizabeth I.

    James’ reign saw some important developments. This was the first time England and Scotland had been unified under one ruler; a move that had profound implications for Britain and its culture.

    James also oversaw the establishment of the first British colonies in North America, at Jamestown, Virginia in 1607, Newfoundland in 1610 and Plymouth Colony, Massachusetts in 1620. These colonies laid the foundation for the future formation of the USA and Canada.

    The Gunpowder Plot, on November 5th 1605, was a notable event of the era. The plot saw Guy Fawkes and others attempt to assassinate James and blow up parliament. James also commissioned a new English version of the Bible, known as the King James Version, which remains the most widely published English text in the world.

    Architecture, furniture, visual and decorative arts and literature went through significant changes during this period, and the term ‘Jacobean’ is often used to describe the distinctive styles of the era.

    Architecture of the Jacobean era

    Many Jacobean buildings made use of the Tudor pointed arch, as well as ornamental details that are also characteristic of Elizabethan design, like scrolls, lozenges and strapwork

    The Jacobean style is considered the second phase of English Renaissance architecture. The Elizabethan era saw the first introduction of Renaissance ideals into England. The arrival of Italian ideas of philosophy and art coincided with the development of a more international economy and an emerging middle class.

    At the beginning of the Jacobean period there was little stylistic change from Elizabethan trends, which continued to develop.

    During James’ reign, however, English architecture began more decisively to adopt Renaissance motifs. This was partly due to an increase in the employment of Flemish and German carvers and other continental artisans, who brought with them Renaissance styles and techniques. This direct influence saw a departure from the Elizabethan style, which had borrowed its classical details from books.

    Although the general principles of Elizabethan design still held sway, architects began to take a more unified and consistent approach to formal design, both in planning and elevation.

    Buildings from this period characteristically combine motifs from the late Perpendicular Gothic period with classical elements like flat roofs with openwork parapets, columns, pilasters and round-arch arcades. These classical details were often imperfectly understood and somewhat clumsy.

    Many Jacobean buildings made use of the Tudor pointed arch, as well as ornamental details that are also characteristic of Elizabethan design, like scrolls, lozenges and strapwork.

    The designer Inigo Jones is credited with introducing the first fully realised Renaissance classical style into English architecture, with the Banqueting House at Whitehall, completed in 1622.

    Jones had travelled widely in Italy, and was heavily inspired by the architecture of Ancient Rome and the work of Italian Renaissance architect Andrea Palladio. Palladianism subsequently became a popular architectural style in England.

    Examples of Jacobean architecture

    Notable examples of Jacobean architecture include Hatfield House in Hertfordshire, built by Robert Cecil, first Earl of Salisbury, between 1607 and 1611. This building developed the Elizabethan style of the prodigy house, incorporating Tudor-style turreted wings with mullioned windows, linked by an Italian Renaissance-style facade. The finely carved Grand Staircase shows a strong Renaissance influence in its elaborate ornamentation.

    Knole House, near Sevenoaks in Kent, dates back to the mid-15th Century, but had major additions during the Jacobean era in the early 17th Century. At this time, Thomas Sackville transformed it from a late medieval archiepiscopal palace into a fine Jacobean country house.

    Other examples include Plas Teg near Pontblyddyn in North Wales, Castle Bromwich Hall near Solihull, Charlton House in London and Lilford Hall in Northamptonshire.

    Jacobean interior design

    Less wealthy houses, although they lacked the luxurious materials, made much use of decoration and ornamentation

    From the beginning of the Jacobean era up until the formation of the Commonwealth in 1649, interior design developed in two separate veins. The first was the preserve of the wealthy and was confined to great houses and palaces, comprising lavish and extravagant furnishings and costly fabrics and materials.

    Less wealthy houses, although they lacked the luxurious materials, made much use of decoration and ornamentation. Jacobean interiors often had simple Tudor paneling, and occasionally used Perpendicular vaulting forms.

    The Renaissance influence could be seen in many doorways, fireplaces and other interior structures, which were often framed with classical forms. As with Jacobean architecture, interiors widely used classical ornamentation like pilasters, scrolls, balusters, fretwork and strapwork.

    Jacobean furniture styles

    The period represents a move away from England’s medieval past towards a burgeoning modern world

    Furniture styles developed significantly during the Jacobean era. Continuing the trend of the Elizabethan era, the period represents a move away from England’s medieval past towards a burgeoning modern world.

    Elizabeth I was the last of the Tudor Dynasty, and during her reign furniture styles began to transition away from the medieval styles of the earlier Tudor period.

    Traditional Tudor furniture was heavy and bulky, with little decoration. It was designed for medieval castles and didn’t suit the comforts of the more enlightened, modern world that was beginning to emerge.

    With the arrival of Renaissance ideas in England during Elizabeth’s reign, as with architecture, furniture styles began to incorporate classical motifs in their ornamentation, and this continued into the Jacobean era.

    With the transition away from medieval traditions came the beginnings of an appreciation for comfort. Medieval furniture was not designed with comfort in mind, but Jacobean sensibilities gave rise to new furniture styles - at least for the upper echelons of society - that were designed to be comfortable.

    For example, upholstery began to appear consistently, and the Farthingale chair was introduced. This was designed for women who wore farthingales - large, hooped structures worn under skirts - and had a low, padded back and no arms in order to accommodate them. Chairs weren’t produced in large numbers, however, as they were considered only fit for the upper classes.

    What did Jacobean furniture look like?

    For the first time, craftspeople began to make furniture pieces that were designed to be seen from all sides

    Jacobean furniture was often symmetrical and based on rectilinear shapes. For example, chairs had straight backs and rectangular seats, and both chair and table legs were made to stand perpendicular to the floor.

    For the first time, craftspeople began to make furniture pieces that were designed to be seen from all sides. Medieval furniture was usually so bulky and heavy that it would never be moved and would therefore only be seen from one direction.

    Jacobean furniture became lighter and more mobile (although it was still heavier than later styles), meaning furniture makers had to think three-dimensionally and make it attractive from multiple angles.

    Cupboards, beds, benches and settles were often built into walls. Chests or coffers for holding linens were common, and the folding table emerged during the period. While basic furniture designs were fairly straightforward, they were often richly carved, decorated with classical-inspired details like scrolls, columns and arches, and intricate geometric designs.

    Jacobean furniture was primarily made from oak, and made use of mortise-and-tenon joints. Furniture makers occasionally used exotic woods, or painted wood black to look like Asian lacquer. Exotic materials like mother-of-pearl were used for ornamentation.

    We have some wonderful examples of Jacobean furniture and architectural antiques in our collection. Browse our collection or get in touch with us to find out more.


  • Types of clocks through the ages: a historical guide

    Posted 16 March 2021

    Types of clocks through the ages: a historical guide

    There is a vast array of different types of clocks - from the very first clocks to 20th Century wristwatches, antique clocks can tell us a lot about the cultures they came from.

    In this article we’ll delve into the fascinating history of different types of clocks through the ages.

    Ancient civilisations and the first clocks

    Although the movement of the sun has always served as a natural marker of the passage of time, it is only relatively recently in human existence that we have been able to measure time with any accuracy.

    Sundials were among the first types of clocks. The ancient Egyptians started using obelisks to measure the sun’s shadow as early as 3,500 BC. They developed water clocks, which were also used in Babylon, ancient Greece, Persia, Mesopotamia, India and ancient China.

    Other types of clocks included the timestick, used in India, Tibet and Persia, and the candle clock, used in ancient Japan, ancient China, Mesopotamia and England.

    The dawn of mechanical clocks

    The first fully mechanical clocks were developed by Christian monks

    The ancient Greeks, Romans and Chinese continued to develop water clocks to make them more accurate. Islamic civilisation is believed to have advanced water clock design further using engineering, with a geared water clock invented in the 11th Century in Islamic Iberia.

    The first fully mechanical clocks were developed by Christian monks in medieval Europe. The clocks were installed in monasteries to coordinate prayer and work schedules.

    These early clocks used a complicated system of pulleys and weights to operate a striking mechanism.They were installed in churches and town halls, making timekeeping a public activity.

    A Renaissance revolution in timekeeping

    The Renaissance period saw a huge leap forward in the types of clocks available. The invention of the spring mechanism in the 15th Century revolutionised clockmaking, enabling the development of smaller, more portable clocks..

    European clockmaking flourished in the 15th and 16th Centuries. It was now possible to have a clock at home - if you could afford it.

    Types of clocks including wall mounted, table and mantel became incredibly popular with the Renaissance nobility. Domestic clocks became a symbol of luxury, status and wealth.

    The invention of the pendulum clock

    The 17th Century saw another huge innovation in clockmaking with the introduction of the pendulum clock.

    Inspired by the work of Galileo, Dutch scientist Christiaan Huygens determined the mathematical formula relating pendulum length to time and invented the first pendulum-driven clock in 1657. This increased timekeeping accuracy to within 15 seconds in a day.

    The longcase clock - better known as the grandfather clock - was created to house the pendulum mechanism. Clock faces began to utilise enamel and hand-painted ceramics, and clock cases to be made of wood.

    Longcase clocks were an instant hit with the European nobility, and are still among the most popular European clocks today.

    Longcase clocks were an instant hit with the European nobility

    Decoration and innovation in the 18th Century

    Clockmaking technology continued to advance throughout the 18th Century, with clocks becoming increasingly accurate and complex.

    They also became more decorative. European clockmakers developed techniques for decorating clocks ornately with porcelain and ormolu, and clocks became valued as much for their looks as for their practical use.

    The arrival of the pocket watch

    In 1675, Huygens and English scientist Robert Hooke invented the spiral balance spring, or hairspring. This was a crucial step forward as it enabled the creation of accurate pocket watches for the first time.

    Renowned English clockmaker Thomas Tompion was among the first to successfully use this technology in pocket watches. He augmented it with the introduction of the minute hand to create the configuration we know today.

    Pocket watch technology developed throughout the 18th Century, coinciding with a trend for small, round watches that could fit in a waistcoat pocket.

    19th Century advances in clockmaking

    Scottish clockmaker Alexander Bain was the first to patent an electric clock in 1840

    Clockmaking innovations continued throughout the 19th Century, with clocks becoming ever more portable and accurate.

    The first carriage clocks were invented in the early 19th Century in France. These were small clocks designed for travelling, usually with a plain or gilt-brass case with a carrying handle, and often set with glass panels.

    Scottish clockmaker Alexander Bain was the first to patent an electric clock in 1840. Mass production of pocket watches began at the British Watch Company in 1843, but it was in the US that this process really took off.

    Clockmaking represented the most advanced technology of the day, and European high society was so fascinated by it that many of the most renowned craftspeople of the time turned their hand to it.

    Types of clocks in the modern era

    The end of the 19th Century saw the introduction of the wristwatch. These originated as bracelets worn exclusively by women, while men continued to use pocket watches into the 20th Century.

    Electric watches were pioneered in the 1950s, quickly followed by the quartz watch. Now, watches and other personal timekeeping devices are ubiquitous.

    Telling the time has become so commonplace that it’s hard to imagine life without it - yet antique clocks are a beautiful reminder of the journey we’ve been on to arrive at this point.


  • Bringing Edwardian decor into your home: ideas and advice

    Posted 16 March 2021

    Bringing Edwardian decor into your home: ideas and advice

    Edwardian decor saw a large shift in direction from the previous Victorian era.

    Despite the Edwardian era only lasting from 1901-1910, these years had a monumental impact on decor and furniture.

    Out of all periods, identifying Edwardian furniture and antiques are arguably one of the most challenging.

    But fear not, we have put together a helpful guide to equip you with all the knowledge you need to not only recognise Edwardian furniture but perfectly implement it in your home.

    From Victorian to Edwardian

    Favouring light, fresh and simplistic designs, coupled with Edward VII’s love of travel, Edwardian furniture was born with influences from continental Europe.

    Previous eras had seen furniture such as antique fireplaces as possessions exclusively for the rich.

    However, thanks to revelations in machinery and the adoption of mass production during the Edwardian era, furniture became more accessible and affordable to middle-class families.

    Furniture became more accessible and affordable

    Recognising Edwardian furniture

    Edwardian furniture doesn’t have its own unique style, but rather takes inspiration from previous eras - noticeably the Tudor, Georgian and Medieval, but with a modern twist.

    Hence, identifying Edwardian furniture can be difficult and requires a trained eye.

    Art Nouveau design

    Edwardian interior design heavily features the Art Nouveau design; using natural lines, structures and forms in its design.

    The use of bright colours and floral designs became more common, being featured in all aspects of the room such as on wallpaper, paintings and curtains - so adding floral touches is an easy way to bring Edwardian decor into your home.

    The Edwardian era was all about creating a fresh feel. When looking to add an Edwardian touch to your home, don’t be afraid to let the light in!

    A pair of decorative Edwardian stained glass windows in our stock provides the perfect example of how designers in this era incorporated floral-style motifs into their items:-

    Edwardian lighting

    Electricity began to circulate through some of the richer households during the Edwardian era; replacing gas lamps with table lamps and ceiling lights.

    This contributed to the light, airy feel of an Edwardian room as the walls no longer needed to be painted dark to disguise the discolouration caused by the gas lights.

    When adding Edwardian decor to your home, experiment with pastel colours such as olive green, lilac or pale blue.

    We have a beautiful set of Edwardian table lamps in our stock; decorated with a profusion of gilt on a cobalt blue fishscale background. Simple Empire-style lamp shades would suit these lamps very well.

    Edwardian materials

    Edwardian furniture makers emphasised durability, opting for simple designs. When adding Edwardian decor to your home, keep simplicity in mind.

    Mahogany was the most prominently used wood in the Edwardian era, followed by walnut, oak and satinwood. Lighter materials included wicker and bamboo.

    The use of bright colours and floral design became more common

    It wouldn’t be uncommon to see woodwork painted white, emphasising the drastic shift in design from the dark colours of the Victorian era.

    Note: wicker furniture is vastly available and is a relatively easy way to bring Edwardian decor into your home.

    Edwardian Fireplaces

    Edwardian furniture makers emphasised durability, opting for simple designs

    Edwardian fireplaces boast simplicity with style - only the borders tend to be decorated.

    Iron and copper hoods helped to enhance the visual appearance of the fireplace. It was also common to see large glass mirrors positioned on mantelpieces above fireplaces - adding an antique mirror to your home would add a nice Edwardian touch.

    See below an example of an Edwardian fireplace mantel from our collection. This item is made from mahogany with fine inlaid marquetry Art Nouveau detail on the frieze.

    Note: an Edwardian living room is the only exception to the light, airy rooms which feature in the rest of an Edwardian house, so make sure to use darker colours here!

    Bringing Edwardian decor into your home: conclusion

    When it comes to adding Edwardian decor to your home, there’re a few simple steps you can take to create an Edwardian look.

    The key take-home message is to keep simplicity in mind. Designs were kept plain, surfaces decluttered and a sense of freshness circulated rooms.

    Make sure to combine old and new styles. We offer a large array of antiques here at Westland, so be sure to take a look at our collection or get in touch, we’re always happy to chat antiques.


  • Caring for antique furniture

    Posted 26 February 2021

    Caring for antique furniture

    Caring for antique furniture can seem like a daunting task.

    A careless mistake or error made in naivety can impact both the physical condition of your beloved antique and its value.

    But rest assured, there are a few simple steps you can take to preserve your precious antiques.

    Transportation

    Many antiques have been around for several decades and hence require love and care when being moved to prevent any costly accidents.

    However trivial it may sound, you must not underestimate the importance of a fragile transit.

    In fact, it’s often best to hire a professional to transport the antiques for you, especially if the items are large or heavy, such as an antique fireplace.

    Storage is important

    The first rule of thumb is to keep antique furniture out of direct sunlight

    Where you choose to store your antiques requires careful consideration to prevent unexpected damage from occurring.

    The first rule of thumb is to keep antique furniture out of direct sunlight.

    UV rays can cause a number of issues such as discolouring or materials drying out which may lead to fading or cracking.

    However, it’s equally just as important to not place items in a dark, cold room - your antique may fall victim to moisture and mould if left in such an environment!

    Where possible, try to store your items somewhere you can control the temperature and humidity of the space.

    There’s a chance that rapid, varying temperature changes could cause damage to wooden antiques due to thermal expansion.

    Dust frequently

    A duster will become your best friend when caring for antique furniture!

    Frequent dusting will clear away all those cobwebs and mothballs, ensuring your antiques remain looking as good as new.

    The simple swipe of a duster can also help prevent any musty smells from appearing around your furniture.

    Note: use a clean, dry and soft duster or cloth to prevent any scratches or damage occurring.

    Polish correctly

    Avoid silicone polish as it builds up on the surface and spoils the finish of the wood

    A small tub of polish can help preserve the original finish of your items and is a crucial part of caring for antique furniture.

    Applying a wax polish - beeswax polish for example - can help you do this. Avoid silicone polish as it builds up on the surface and spoils the finish of the wood.

    Using a clean and lint free cloth, rub the polish in the direction of the grain of the item.

    When you start to see the wax shine on the surface, well done! - you need not apply any more.

    The final step is to buff the wax with a clean, dry towel. Make sure the wax has fully dried first – depending on the material and amount used, this could take anywhere between an hour and a couple of days.

    Make sure you’re confident before attempting to polish your antique furniture; dullness, smudging and bad streaks can occur when applied incorrectly.

    It’s also important to not apply wax too often. Once or twice a year is the usual recommendation, however all materials are different so make sure you do your research.

    It goes without saying that if you’re in any doubt whatsoever, your best port of call is to contact an antiques expert or professional restorer.

    Regular inspections

    Common culprits to look out for include dust, mothballs, mould, water damage, loose joints and woodworm holes

    Caring for antique furniture calls for routine inspections!

    Frequently inspecting your items (and knowing what to look out for) will help you spot any signs of wear and tear at their earliest stage.

    This gives you a head start on fixing any issues before it becomes too late and the real damage is done.

    Note: common culprits to look out for include dust, mothballs, mould, water damage, loose joints and woodworm holes.

    Calling an expert when issues arise

    An antiques restorer will likely have access to tools and workshop space that aren’t available to most

    If you do come across an issue with your antique furniture, such as woodworm, even if you think you know how to fix it there’s no harm in getting an expert’s opinion.

    What might seem like a quick fix could be the start of a bigger problem which requires professional attention - especially if the antique is expensive or has high sentimental value!

    An antiques restorer will likely have access to tools and workshop space that aren’t available to most.

    Crucially, there is peace of mind knowing your antiques are in safe hands.

    Have a look at an exciting restoration project we undertook involving a Regency urn made from grogged terracotta.

    Caring for antique furniture: conclusion

    Hopefully after reading this you’re feeling slightly less anxious at the thought of having to care for your antique furniture.

    Taking the time to dust, polish and regularly inspect your items can make the world of difference in keeping your antiques safe and well.

    Always remember that there’s no shame in calling upon a professional antique restorer if you’re not 100% certain or a bigger problem occurs.

    It’s never worth the risk of chancing further, potentially unfixable, damage through unwillingness to get an expert involved!

    Visit us at our Willesden Green showroom or get in contact with us if you have any further questions regarding your antiques and we’ll be happy to help.


  • How to spot fake antiques

    Posted 26 February 2021

    How to spot fake antiques

    All antique enthusiasts can relate to the absolute delight of uncovering a hidden gem or adding a missing piece to their collection.

    Being equipped with a basic understanding of how to spot fake antiques can prove a handy tool in the world of antiquing and act as a prerequisite to any excitement.

    The thrill of buying antiques will, however, quickly expire if you later realise you’ve been dubbed by a reproduction.

    As the ability to replicate an item is advancing, it’s becoming increasingly difficult to identify an authentic antique.

    So with this in mind, how do you go about spotting fake antiques?

    Expect imperfections and signs of ageing

    Any dealer worth their salt will know whether an item has been restored and should be able to provide details

    Considering antiques are at least 100 years old, it’s not surprising that we would expect to see signs of ageing. In fact, imperfections can help signify authenticity.

    For example, wood commonly shrinks over time resulting in misshapen furniture. Note that wood also darkens with age and so you would expect any newly exposed surfaces to be lighter than the rest of the item.

    Alternatively, if the item contains glass or porcelain, such as an antique mirror, it would be unsurprising to spot chips and cracks.

    It’s also worth noting that some objects might have already undergone restoration to preserve the antique and therefore spotting signs of age or repair may not be easy for a novice's eye.

    Crucially, though, any dealer worth their salt will know whether an item has been restored and should be able to provide details - don’t be afraid to ask questions!

    Caution: whilst we hope this doesn’t happen frequently, it isn’t unheard of for fake antiques to be purposefully aged by dealers and sold as a restored item.

    Do your research

    When looking to source antiques, research will undoubtedly be your best coat of arms on the battlefield.

    One of the best “time stamps” on an object is the material used. For example, in upholstery, polyester did not come into usage until the 1920s.

    Thus, real antiques would contain natural stuffing such as horsehair, which will feel bristly and not spring back into place when pressed.

    Likewise, furniture made before the 1930s wouldn’t feature plywood or particle board.

    In upholstery, polyester did not come into usage until the 1920s

    Look for a mix of woods (and note that furniture made from oak, walnut, cherry, or maple can date as far back as the early seventeenth century and often indicates an antique).

    When looking at porcelain, note that items dated pre-18th century will be made of “soft paste” porcelain as opposed to the more modern “hard paste”. Use a black (UV) light to identify soft paste which will glow white as opposed to hard paste which fluoresces purple.

    Note: If an item has been too heavily restored, it is no longer an antique - this is often the case with porcelain.

    Be aware of any key requirements of an item. For example, a genuine Eames recliner will be set at a permanent 15° angle, rather than actually reclining.

    An eye for detail is important

    Screws were handmade until about 1880. Look for little or no taper and a much shallower spiral

    Now you’ve done your research, an eye for detail becomes important. Careful inspection of an item can reveal some obvious tell-tale signs of fake antiques.

    For example, screws were handmade until about 1880. Look for little or no taper and a much shallower spiral to spot the genuine article.

    Round nails appeared around 1900, before which they were square cut. Staples are also a big giveaway, which came into play at a similar time.

    Objects such as antique fireplaces may feature a signature or company branding – often engraved.

    A lot of detailed information can be gleaned from such marks with the right knowledge. For example, silver hallmarks denote where the silver content was certified, when it was made and by whom.

    Caution: a mark or company engraving isn’t always enough to prove an antique is genuine if other elements don’t add up.

    Shop from a trusted supplier and ask questions

    Dealers that are part of an association and are accredited must disclose the vital information to authenticate a piece. Use their knowledge and ask plenty of questions.

    A huge giveaway of fake antiques is if they appear to be in plentiful supply

    It may prove harder to spot fake antiques online. Carry out due diligence - ensure you are confident in the quality of the item before making a purchase.

    A huge giveaway of fake antiques is if they appear to be in plentiful supply. Part of an antiques value is its scarcity. If a seller has a glut of a particular object, it’s worth applying extra caution and perhaps asking for a second opinion.

    How to spot fake antiques – final thoughts

    It’s worth noting that antique reproductions have been around for a long time and do have a legitimate function in the antiques industry – but only if sold as such.

    Selling a reproduction as the real thing? That’s a forgery.

    When it comes to spotting fake antiques, your best bet is to do your homework. There are plenty of resources online for developing your knowledge of antiques across time periods.

    If you’d like to know any more about our collection, please get in touch.


  • Going, going, gone - the five most expensive antiques ever sold

    Posted 02 February 2021

    Going, going, gone - the five most expensive antiques ever sold

    We at Westland would be the first to admit that antiques aren’t always the cheapest purchase a customer can make - it’s easier to buy a bar of chocolate than an ornate Victorian fireplace!

    However, our unique and varied stock costs a fraction in comparison to some antiques, which have sold at auction for millions of pounds to happy homeowners and content collectors.

    If you’re curious just how far bidders are willing to pay for a unique piece, or just want to see what fetches a pretty penny, we’ve put together this list of some of the most expensive antiques ever sold.

    Pinner Qing Dynasty Vase - Sold for $72.95 million

    By far the most expensive antique ever sold, the Pinner Qing Dynasty vase is a beautiful, intricate piece of pottery with bright colours, fish decoration and the Chinese imperial seal.

    The last surviving vase of its kind (there were originally 18 of them made), the vase was initially thought to be a replica when it was first discovered.

    The vase had been tucked away in a house unnoticed for years before it was auctioned off in London for $72.95 million in 2010.

    However, after two years the buyer had not settled the payment which led to a private sale, estimated at around $34 million.

    The vase had been tucked away in a house unnoticed for years

    Ru Guanyao Brush Washer Bowl - Sold for $37.68 million

    This bowl’s unassuming size (5.125 inches) and colour palette hides its true value, being one of the most expensive Chinese porcelain pieces ever sold.

    At 900 years old the Ru Guanyao Brush Water Bowl is, as its name suggests, used to clean small brushes. They are extremely rare as the kiln that created these bowls had a relatively short production run of around two decades.

    The kiln that created these bowls had a relatively short production run of around two decades

    Medici Badminton Cabinet - Sold for $36 million

    This cabinet, which is now on display at the Lichtenstein Museum, was made in Florence in Italy and took six years and thirty craftsmen to make.

    Containing a clock and decorated with a number of precious stones, the cabinet sold for $16.6 million in 1990 then went for a small fortune again in 2004 when it sold for $36 million.

    Good luck finding something to store inside the cabinet that’s more valuable than the cabinet itself!

    Now on display at the Lichtenstein Museum

    Persian rug - Sold for $33.76 million

    While this rug, hailing initially from Kirman in South East Persia (now better known as Iran) may not initially look much different in design from other antique carpeting you may have seen, this rug was still initially valued at auction between $5 and $7 million. This was due to its condition and rarity.

    When all was said and done the rug finally sold for an eye-watering $33.76 million - not the amount of money you’d normally leave on the floor!

    Patek Philippe Supercomplication Pocket Watch - Sold for $24 million

    The most valuable timepiece in auction history, this pocket watch was created in 1932 by luxury watch manufacturer Patek Philippe.

    It is a one-of-a-kind design commissioned by Henry Graves Jr., who was attempting to create the most complicated watch possible. This has led to the watch’s nickname, the ‘Henry Graves Jr. Supercomplication’.

    It sold for $24 million at auction in 2014.

    A one-of-a-kind design commissioned by Henry Graves Jr., who was attempting to create the most complicated watch possible

    Conclusion

    We hope that you’ve enjoyed this look into the expensive world of high-priced antique pieces.

    If you’re interested in getting a piece of (more sensibly priced) antique furniture for your home, be sure to visit our Willesden Green showroom, take a look around our website or get in touch - we’re always happy to chat antiques!


  • Antique Sculptures: four of our finest pieces

    Posted 02 February 2021

    Antique Sculptures: four of our finest pieces

    From stone to metal to wood, an antique sculpture can provide an air of authority and history to any room they’re stationed in

    Here’s a selection of some of our finest statues in stock, guaranteed to bring a unique look to your home.

    Massive teak sculpture of a Buddhist deity

    A Buddhist Door Guardian would have been placed in front of a building, temple or home to ward off evil

    Making its way to Westland from a large restaurant in East London, this statue is believed to be a representation of a Buddhist Door Guardian that would have been placed in front of a building, temple or home to ward off evil.

    This massive sculpture comes in six separate sections and is lovingly rendered in well-maintained teak.

    By far the most imposing statue on this list, this statue is somewhat of a mystery to us - if you can shed more light on its sculptor feel free to get in touch with us!

    A patinated bronze of Lorenzo De Medici

    At 40cms tall, this bronze statue of the 15th Century Italian statesman Lorenzo De Medici is perfect for a tabletop, fireplace or shelf. It is based off of the original sculpture by Michaelangelo that sits on top of Medici’s own grave in Florence.

    Lovingly rendered with a thoughtful expression and intricately detailed clothing (which had been a bugbear in human sculptures ever since the elaborate designs of Roman and Ancient Greek sculptors), this piece is sure to bring a touch of class to any room it resides in.

    Marble plaque of Nike, goddess of victory

    The goddess Nike was the Ancient Greek personification of victory

    The goddess Nike was the Ancient Greek personification of victory (hence her name being repurposed for the popular clothing brand). Often seen in her chariot, she would reward the glorious in battle with glory, fame and laurel leaves.

    Nike has been commemorated in this marble plaque, showing her chariot being pulled by two powerful horses while she is being attended to by two cherubic assistants.

    Despite hailing from the 19th Century it has been sculpted in the style of an Ancient Greek frieze, with the goddess looking excited as she heads off to battle.

    The most traditional design of this list, installing this plaque in your home will bring with it a real sense of artistry and history.

    A Victorian bronze of a knight crusader

    With his sword sheathed, hands open and cross prominently on display, this statue brings with it messages of peace and acceptance

    At 49 centimetres tall, this bronze of a knight crusader brings with it the same portability and chance to display as the bronze of Medici above - though as it is slightly larger it may require a more permanent place in the room!

    With his sword sheathed, hands open and cross prominently on display, this statue brings with it messages of peace and acceptance, as was the view of the knight crusaders at the time of its construction in the 19th century.

    Conclusion

    We hope that this blog has helped you to ignite a love of antique sculptures - including those we have in stock in our Willesden Green showroom right now.

    If you agree, be sure to visit us, take a look around our website or get in touch - we’re always happy to chat antiques!


  • Vive la France! A guide to antique French furniture

    Posted 15 January 2021

    Vive la France! A guide to antique French furniture

    From the symmetry and straight lines of Louis XVI furniture to the exceptional artistry of Rococo – antique French furniture has a fascinating history. Here at Westland, we showcase some of the most exquisite examples of antique furniture, specialising in ornate fireplaces and fine architectural antiques. Delve into a treasure trove of French antique furniture with our comprehensive guide.

    Louis XIII (1590–1660)

    The course of antique French furniture changed dramatically during this time, when the middle class became much wealthier and the demand for furniture, tapestries and textiles grew. People demanded their furniture be as beautiful as it was comfortable, and fixed upholstery was born. Leather and velvet were widely used and opulent furniture designs often featured cherubs, scrolls, fruit and flowers.

    The Louis XV and Rococo period embraced the playful, romantic and feminine.

    Louis XIV (1660–1715)

    Antique French furniture from this period embodied opulence like never before. Elaborate carving was complemented by the finest materials, including touches of gilding, lacquer and gold leaf decorations.

    A fabulous example is this early 20th-century Louis XIV style decorative brass fireplace insert, finished with a delicate flower design.

    Régence (1715–1730)

    Inspired by mythological themes and the orient, French antique furniture from the Régence period was often characterised by leaf motifs and the commode rose in popularity.

    This stunning, rare 19th-century statuary marble and ormolu chimneypiece depicts ‘le triomphe d’Amphitrite’ and is a perfect example of this era. On the panel, the sea goddess and wife of Poseidon can be seen riding a dolphin, surrounded by mermen and mermaids.

    Louis XV and Rococo (1730–1770)

    Regarded by many as the Golden Age of French antique furniture, this period embraced the playful, romantic and feminine. Ladies’ furniture such as dressing tables became popular, and doves, dolphins and stylised flowers were common. Rococo furniture was particularly prevalent in salons, a new style of room used to impress and entertain guests.

    This beautiful giltwood wall mirror is a great way to add a touch of Rococo style to your home.

    Louis XVI (1770–1789)

    Louis XVI furniture marked a departure from the fanciful, instead embracing practical designs with symmetrical straight lines. The elite used this scaled-back furniture as a display of class, looking upon fussier furniture with disdain.

    This beautifully symmetrical chimneypiece made of fine Arabascato marble is charmingly simple and a perfect example of Louis XVI furniture style.

    Directoire (1789–1805)

    A time of trouble in France, this period produced scaled-back furniture. Inlay decorations of ebony, copper and brass were popular, with brass often replacing gilt-bronze due to economic constraints. Imported woods were rare and most antique French furniture around this time was made of walnut, which could easily be found in France.

    Empire (1805–1815)

    As the economy boomed, the Empire period saw a return to more opulent styles. The backs of gilded chairs were stiff and square, prioritising style over comfort. Mahogany, ebony and rosewood were common, as were symbols of love and sensuality. Later, Egyptian motifs such as sphinxes and winged lions became immensely popular.

     

    Restoration (1815–1830)

    While the geometric styling of Empire furniture remained, craftsmen started to reintroduce a touch of whimsy. Musical instruments, rosettes and swans were popular motifs and people tended to favour smaller pieces that fit boudoir-style rooms. Mouldings and marquetry enjoyed a comeback in the form of decorative flowers and garlands.

    Antique French furniture has a fascinating history.

    Louis Philippe (1830–1850)

    The industrial revolution made its mark on furniture of this time, with craftsmen designing suites for the bedroom and dining rooms for the first time. While lines were simple and sombre, curved tops on buffets, chests and armoires were common. The frog’s leg motif started to appear on chairs and settees.

    This limestone fireplace mantle is beautiful in its simplicity and a good example of Louis Philippe style.

    Napoleon III (Second Empire) (1848–1880)

    Antique furniture from this period mixed Renaissance, Baroque and Neoclassical styles. Seating dominated furniture production, and ottomans, chaises and poufs were incredibly sought after. Popular touches included gilt-bronze fittings, copper, ivory and mother-of-pearl inlay. Cast iron also dominated, particularly in the production of settees, beds and gueridon stands.

    Moderne and Art Nouveau (1889–1925)

    Originating in England, Moderne and Art Nouveau quickly spread to France. Motifs were largely inspired by botanical themes and pieces were often mass produced for Parisian department stores.

    Delve into a treasure trove of antique French furniture.

    Art Deco (1925–1935)

    As France shone at the forefront of luxury goods design, Art Deco furniture flourished. Aimed at the luxury market, designs were made from costly materials such as silk, exotic woods and ivory. Strong geometric lines were popular and tables tended to be round, oval or rectangular.

    Conclusion

    We hope that this guide to antique French furniture has piqued your interest in a stylish and varied selection of items. If you’re looking for antique French furniture or have a few questions about antique furniture in general, be sure to visit our Willesden Green showroom, look through our website or get in contact with us - we’re always happy to help!


  • Antiques for small rooms - making the most out of your space

    Posted 15 January 2021

    Antiques for small rooms - making the most out of your space

    When people think of antique furniture, they often think of the large and the elaborate - of thrones and ornate chandeliers.

    But what if you love antique furniture but don’t have this amount of space to spare?

    There’s no need to worry if you’re wanting for room! We’ve written this guide to antiques for small rooms so that you can make the most out of where you’re living.

    While you might imagine that living in a small space may limit your options for antique furniture, that can’t be further from the truth.

    Top tip: take measurements!

    This may seem obvious, but there’s not a more deflating feeling than bringing home a beautiful antique and realising it won’t fit into your living room - or worse, your front door. This is especially true if you have a small room and every inch counts.

    Always make sure you have precise measurements of the area in your home you want your new piece of antique furniture to take pride of place in. Try and be as accurate as possible, a few centimeters can make all the difference!

    Don't be afraid to break out the tape measure!

    Likewise, be sure to measure your new antique so you can minimise the risk of something not fitting into the allotted space. Don’t be afraid to break out the tape measure at the antique dealership!

    If you’re planning on buying your antiques online, ensure you have an accurate estimate of the measurements - ask the retailer to confirm if you’re unsure.

    Planning and decor

    You’ve taken your measurements and realised that you do indeed have some space to spare in your small room. You know you want that space filled with a beautiful piece of antique furniture, but nothing’s taken your fancy yet. What next?

    As with any kind of interior design, make sure you consider the decor of your room before you choose any kind of furniture - it would be a shame to introduce something into your living space that sticks out like a sore thumb! Look for pleasing colour combinations and if the piece suits the overall style of the rest of the room (don’t be worried about introducing antiques to a modern living space - if you think that might suit you then make sure you read our guide on the subject).

    What kind of antiques should you be looking for?

    Now that you’ve gotten the planning and measuring out of the way, what kind of antiques would suit a small space?

    The most obvious answer here would be ‘small antiques’, for example lamps, lanterns and other kinds of antique lighting (the previously mentioned chandeliers notwithstanding!). For example, this pair of painted table lamps bring an ornate charm to a room while being easily displayed on any kind of countertop.

    What if you love antique furniture but don’t have this amount of space to spare?

    However, for small spaces it can also benefit to have furniture that has multiple functions - a blanket box that can double up as a seating area for example, or a desk with storage space to tidy away all your clutter. While this Gothic Revival buffet may seem bulky at first glance, the amount of items that can be stored in it means that installing it could actually free up a lot of space in your home.

    Some antique furniture even comes with concealed compartments, which can be a helpful surprise! Be sure to read our blog on hidden storage space in antiques if those designs appeal to you.

    Conclusion

    While you might imagine that living in a small space may limit your options for antique furniture, that can’t be further from the truth.

    With planning, measuring and a healthy dose of ingenuity you may be able to integrate multiple pieces of antiques into your small rooms, bringing a vintage flair to your home even if it’s on the smaller side.

    If you’re considering introducing antique furniture into your home, at Westland we have a large variety of pieces, from fireplaces to tapestries. Visit us at our Willesden Green showroom or get in contact with us if you have any questions and we’ll be happy to help.


  • The newest design trends for 2020 (and the perfect antiques to compliment them)

    Posted 16 November 2020

    The newest design trends for 2020 (and the perfect antiques to compliment them)

    Due to the current climate, many of us have spent the majority of our 2020 indoors. For some that means getting used to seeing the same old rooms in their house everyday. For others it’s an opportunity to perform some interior decorating.

    Like with any year 2020 has bought its share of new design trends, many of which would benefit from - or even require! - the integration of antique furniture.

    In this blog we’ll be taking a look at some of 2020’s newest design trends and recommending the perfect piece of antique furniture that can be used to compliment them.

    Home offices

    In a trend that is unlikely to shock anybody that’s been paying attention to the news this year, many office workers have spent a majority of their year in their ‘home offices’ - whether that means an actual room in the house or simply working from your sofa.

    This has meant that the home office has been receiving more attention than ever when it comes to interior design - as its not held to the constrictions of a corporate office you can design it in any way you see fit.

    For example, while a desk and chair are essential for any office, designers like those found on Elle Decor recommend adding a lounge chair for ‘moments of concentrated reading and thinking’, such as our Biedermeir-style Baltic sofa or Chippendale-style mahogany armchair.

    Alternately, those looking to bring an ornate flair to their office may enjoy the aesthetic touch of an antique clock or antique fireplace as we start heading towards the winter.

    While you should obviously watch out for clutter, try to fill your home office with comfortable, aesthetically pleasing furniture if you’re working from home - if you’re going to spend so much time working there, you should try to enjoy yourself at least!

    Vintage / structured simplicity

    There has been a resurgence of interest in retro and vintage furniture in 2020, spurred on by aesthetic movements on the internet like Cottagecore. Many budding interior designers are choosing to forego more modern, complicated furniture in favour of a more simple, rustic look.

    Homes and Gardens note that vintage designers want to ‘reference the look rather than slavishly recreate it, using strong colours, favourite pieces and a less-is-more approach for a vibrant, cohesive aesthetic’.

    As mentioned in our blog on Cottagecore and rustic cottage furniture, homeowners can try and recreate a rustic vibe at home with an antique French cupboard, antique mirror or chest of drawers - items with simple yet functional designs.

    While you should obviously watch out for clutter, try to fill your home office with comfortable, aesthetically pleasing furniture if you’re working from home - if you’re going to spend so much time working there, you should try to enjoy yourself at least!

    Antique lighting

    Antique lighting has been a popular interior choice this year - charming designers in both the Wall Street Journal and Ideal Home, who appreciate the intricacy of the designs in contrast with the simplicity of the light the fixtures are providing.

    While this style of lighting has existed for hundreds of years and a bulb may shine brighter, the light from an antique chandelier or wall sconce can bring an atmosphere to a room like no other light source.

    Whether you’re using wall lights or chandeliers, antique lighting is the perfect choice to bring class and elegance to your home.

    Westland stocks a wide range of antique lighting, from lanterns to table lamps, all of which can light up your home both literally and figuratively.

    Mixing old and new furniture

    Finally, a common interior design trend in 2020 has been mixing old and new furniture, antique mixing with the present day to create a whole-new look.

    Designers at Elle say that homeowners ‘are over the ‘one-stop-shop’ design resources and are taking the design of their homes to the next level by getting comfortable with mixing and matching old and new and even purchasing locally made souvenirs while on their travels to help tell the story of who they are’. And what better way to mix old with new than to introduce antique furniture into your home?

    Whilst making sure to take notice of the design and space of your home, adding an antique piece to your home - whether it’s a small sculpture or as big as a dining room table - can not only provide a sense of elegance for your home but also create a unique style for your home.

    Conclusion

    While interior design trends are always changing, it’s heartening to see that so many of them in 2020 are compatible with our stock of antique furniture. If you feel your home is missing that vital antique piece to make its style complete, then feel free to visit our Willesden Green showroom.

    If you’d like to know more about anything in our collection please do get in touch.


  • The rise of cottagecore: creating a rustic look with antique furniture

    Posted 19 October 2020

    The rise of cottagecore: creating a rustic look with antique furniture

    If you’re looking for a new aesthetic to inform your home decorating, have you considered cottagecore?

    Since its introduction, cottagecore has taken social media by storm, appearing across TikTok, Instagram and even the videogame Animal Crossing!

    The term, first coined on Tumblr in 2018, describes a visual style encased in nostalgia for western farms and cottages: Beatrix Potter, bakery and, of course, antique furniture.

    This means a focus on simple, rustic wooden designs favouring functionality over detail, often paired with a gingham or checked fabric.

    If you’re interested in cottagecore designs, or would like to furnish your own cottage with a more rustic look, we’ve created this guide to point you in the right direction.

    ‘Cottagecore has allowed budding interior decorators to explore their rustic side and shine a light on a simpler style of decoration’

    Consider scale

    The first thing to consider when choosing antique furniture for any space is whether the furniture will be able to fit - you wouldn’t want to waste your money on a piece twice the size of the room it’s supposed to be in!

    This consideration is especially true when it comes to cottages. Cottages often have lower ceilings and smaller rooms than more modern property, so large pieces can sometimes dominate the space.

    It’s often helpful to take a measurement of your rooms before buying furniture for your cottage - this will give you the chance to plan out positioning and allow you to get a general idea of what pieces belong in your cottage space.

    Think about antique lighting

    Part of the appeal of cottagecore is the rustic aesthetic - the return to simpler times and visuals (while admittedly many of these visuals are being shared over TikTok and Instagram).

    This appeal to simplicity and nostalgia can also be reflected in the lighting you use to decorate your cottage - using, for example, antique lighting.

    Alternatively other wall-mounted Victorian mirrors will help to complete the period look wherever they are situated.

    No modern Victorian living room is complete without the right lighting to complete the unique atmosphere.

    Antique rugs - setting the tone for your Victorian living room

    Rugs are a fantastic way to bring the rich colours and textures of a Victorian living room to life.

    The use of antique lighting in a rustic or cottage setting can add character and go well with other period features. It’s less anachronistic for a vintage table to be lit with an antique lantern than a modern lamp!

    If you’re looking to integrate antique lighting into your cottage we would recommend the following, among other pieces in our collection:

    • Decorative lamps (some can be made from antique vases)
    • Antique brass wall lights
    • Antique ceiling lights and wood lanterns
    • Candelabra and candlesticks
    This appeal to simplicity and nostalgia can also be reflected in the lighting you use to decorate your cottage

    For an example of these (or some other lighting ideas), please visit our antique lighting page.

    As well as antique lighting, you could also consider introducing antique mirrors to your cottage as a way of adding light to your space.

    These would be especially useful in dark corners or hallways - if your cottage is in the middle of the countryside it can be comforting to have as much light as possible when night time comes around!

    Think about storage!

    As mentioned in our previous section about scale, the pared-down design of cottages can mean that they often are lacking for space - meaning there aren’t a lot of places you can hide your everyday clutter!

    With this in mind it’s useful to look at antiques that offer you storage, for example an antique cupboard or chest of drawers. This should give you the chance to clear away your belongings whilst maintaining your stylish, pared down aesthetic.

    Of course, what we’ve said in the scale section still holds true. If you’re planning to buy a larger piece of antique furniture for storage make sure that it can fit inside your cottage - or else you’ll have twice the amount of clutter to deal with!

    Large pieces can sometimes dominate the space of a cottage

    Conclusion

    While cottagecore may be a relatively new design movement, it has allowed budding interior decorators to explore their rustic side and shine a light on a simpler style of decoration - one which can be made even more stunning by the inclusion of antiques.

    We hope that this guide to creating a rustic look for your home or cottage has been useful. If you’re interested in any of the pieces mentioned above or would like to search through our collection please take a look at our website.


  • Using cast iron in antiques - from fireplaces to benches

    Posted 19 October 2020

    Using cast iron in antiques - from fireplaces to benches

    Used in the creation of everything from fireplaces to outside tables and chairs, cast iron has been a popular material of the modern home since its popularisation in the 18th Century.

    But what is cast iron? Where did it come from? And what’s the best way to utilise it in your home?

    Cast iron continues to be a stylish and durable material that brings a level of style to any room it’s included in

    To answer all these questions and more we’ve created this comprehensive guide to cast iron antiques.

    If you’re interested in purchasing a cast iron fireplace for your home be sure to take a look at our antique fireplace collection.

    What is cast iron?

    Cast iron is made from ‘pig iron’ (iron with a high carbon content). The iron is melted down and poured into a mould before being left to cool. It is a brittle metal that, as it is resistant to damage from oxidation, can be used to fashion a variety of antiques used both inside and outdoors.

    Due to cast iron furniture’s size and weight it is more suited to items that are likely to remain in one place in the home. This can include:

    • Fireplaces
    • Tables
    • Benches
    • Garden chairs
    • Planters
    • Plaques
    • Firebacks
    • Ornamental lamp posts
    An entire bench or chair can be made from cast iron to create an ornate piece of furniture

    A brief history of cast iron

    The earliest examples of cast iron can be found in China dating back to the 5th Century BC, being used to make ornaments, weaponry and houses.

    It eventually made its way to the West in the 15th Century, where iron workers used blast furnaces to create cast iron cannons for the English navy.

    In the 18th Century, casting methods (and furnace temperatures) had evolved to the point where the production of intricate fireplaces and furniture could be made using cast iron at a rapid rate.

    This eventually led manufacturers to produce cast iron fireplaces and furniture that was both stylish and affordable.

    Antique cast iron in the home

    At Westland we have a wide variety of cast iron antique furniture available for you to use throughout your home. This includes:

    • Cast iron fireplaces - As a durable yet affordable material, cast iron is used in a number of fireplaces and fireplace styles, ranging from Victorian fireplaces to Rococo and Art Nouveau designs.

      Some cast iron fireplaces function as an ‘all-in-one’ fireplace due to the implementation of an internal grate. This allows the fireplace to have both interior and exterior functions, which makes it easy to install.

    • Cast iron seats and benches - The strength of cast iron, as well as the intricacy of design afforded by using a mold means that cast iron can be used to create a variety of garden seats and benches, such as this Coalbrookdale Garden Cast Iron Seat Bench from our collection. While the entire bench or chair can be made from cast iron to create an ornate piece of furniture, designs can also implement wood to add a more rustic, homely touch to your garden.
    • Cast iron ornaments - Cast iron’s resistance to oxidation allows it to be worked into cast iron ornaments that can take pride of place in and outside the house, including plaques, fountains and sculptures. If you’re looking to add a stylish and long-lasting new element to your home or garden, the sturdy yet intricate designs of a cast iron ornament may suit you.

    Conclusion

    Regardless of how it’s used in or outside of the home, cast iron continues to be a stylish and durable material that brings a level of style to any room it’s included in.

    Cast iron can be used to fashion a variety of antiques used both inside and outdoors

    We hope that this guide to antique cast iron has been useful. If you want to know more, please don’t hesitate to get in touch with us - we’re always happy to talk antiques!


  • Victorian living room ideas: How to create a modern Victorian living room

    Posted 25 August 2020

    Victorian living room ideas: How to create a modern Victorian living room

    Designing a modern Victorian living room is the perfect way to strike a unique balance between your favourite newer decorations and special antiques.

    There’s little need to worry about a clash of styles if you combine modern elements with those of a Victorian living room carefully. The general consensus is that there was no single exclusive style in the Victorian era, so there is certainly leeway for creativity.

    Victorian fireplaces and relevant accessories, as well as Victorian mirrors, are often cornerstones to help set the right mood alongside your modern decor.

    A Victorian living room with a modern twist could feature a wide range of impressive antiques.

    Victorian fireplaces and Victorian mirrors, with antique rugs and other furnishings - combined with modern lighting and decorations, for example - inevitably look stunning.

    If you’re looking for Victorian living room ideas which can blend in seamlessly with more modern tastes, consider the following:

    Victorian fireplaces and surrounding accessories

    Victorian fireplaces, whether made of marble, stone, wood, cast iron or other metals, serve as impressive centrepieces of any modern living room.

    A Victorian style living room should ideally feature an eye-catching antique fireplace, mantel or chimneypiece at its heart.

    Aside from surrounding the fire, Victorian fireplaces have another key purpose - displaying your treasured possessions such as beautiful vases, family photographs or perhaps an antique clock on the mantelpiece.

    Victorian fireplaces, whether made of marble, stone, wood, cast iron or other metals, serve as impressive centrepieces of any modern living room.

    There’s a wide range of additional accessories which can be added to Victorian fireplaces to complete the look - such as fire grates, screens, andirons and chenets.

    One of the most practical features of a typical Victorian living room is a club fender - it can provide extra seating space for entertaining and is also an excellent place to warm up after a cold winter walk.

    Victorian mirrors to reflect a sense of grandeur

    Today mirrors are often used to make rooms look larger and lighter, and Victorian mirrors are no different.

    A beautiful 19th century overmantel antique mirror above a fireplace adds grandeur to a Victorian style living room.

    Alternatively other wall-mounted Victorian mirrors will help to complete the period look wherever they are situated.

    No modern Victorian living room is complete without the right lighting to complete the unique atmosphere.

    Antique rugs - setting the tone for your Victorian living room

    Rugs are a fantastic way to bring the rich colours and textures of a Victorian living room to life.

    Comfortable underfoot and available in a large variety of sizes to suit any space, they can give your Victorian style living room an especially luxurious and cosy feel.

    Other Victorian living room ideas

    For the finishing touches, other Victorian living room ideas are to add some additional antique furniture and decorative items alongside your more contemporary possessions.

    Perhaps a mahogany armchair, rosewood table, oak sideboard or leather room screen would fit perfectly into your Victorian style living room. A blank wall could look less bare with an oil painting or leather panel.

    Alternatively something smaller such as a gilt bronze or marble clock to sit on a surface could be the last piece of the jigsaw to complete your Victorian living room.

    There’s little need to worry about a clash of styles if you combine modern elements with those of a Victorian living room carefully.

    Aside from a club fender, dressing a bay window with cushions is another opportunity to create a cosy seating area in a Victorian style living room.

    Whether for entertaining guests, reading or watching the world go by, a welcoming-looking and well-furnished bay window adds another dimension to a Victorian living room. It can also help draw attention to the view and natural world outside.

    Finally, no modern Victorian living room is complete without the right lighting to complete the unique atmosphere.

    This could either mean thinking carefully about the positioning of your furniture depending on where the best light is currently, or potentially adding antique lighting such as a candelabra.

    Victorian living room ideas: How to create a modern Victorian living room - in summary

    There are many features of a typical Victorian living room which can be embraced to help create the modern Victorian living room of your dreams.

    Designing a modern Victorian living room is the perfect way to strike a unique balance between your favourite newer decorations and special antiques.

    Victorian fireplaces and relevant accessories, as well as Victorian mirrors, are often cornerstones to help set the right mood alongside your modern decor.

    Well-placed antique rugs, furniture and other decorations alongside more contemporary furniture will add to the overall ambience.

    As one of the key cultural figures of the period, William Morris, once said:

    Have nothing in your houses that you do not know to be useful or believe to be beautiful.

    When investing in antique furniture, it’s vital to ensure you’re buying from reputable sellers - by checking their customer ratings, or if they’re members of organisations such as LAPADA.

    If you’re interested in bringing more of a Victorian style into your modern living room, take a look around our website. And if you’d like to know more about anything in our collection please do get in touch.


  • Antique furniture: A comprehensive guide

    Posted 03 August 2020

    Antique furniture: A comprehensive guide

    Buying a piece of antique furniture has the potential to transform a home. An antique is not only an interesting and stylish design feature, but every piece has a story to tell. While trends change, antique furniture remains timeless, making it the perfect addition to the contemporary home.

    For many people, finding and identifying antique furniture is a rewarding hobby in itself. Whether you’re a newbie or a seasoned collector, browsing flea markets and antique fairs for the perfect piece is often half the fun.

    An antique is not only an interesting and stylish design feature, but every piece has a story to tell.

    The world of online antiques can seem daunting - but with a bit of research and some practice, anyone can start collecting and buying beautiful antique pieces. We’ve gathered together some of our most helpful resources to help you find, identify and buy the perfect antique furniture for your home.

    Shopping for antiques online: Our top tips

    There’s nothing like the feeling of finding that special one-off piece after trawling through antique shops and vintage fairs - but shopping for antiques online can be just as rewarding.

    There are some amazing antique deals to be had online, but finding them takes a bit of know-how. Doing some background research, choosing a trusted seller and haggling on price are all wise moves if you want to bag a bargain.

    Find out how to look in all the right places, ask all the right questions and become an expert at online antique shopping with our top tips.

    The world of online antiques can seem daunting - but with a bit of research and some practice, anyone can start collecting and buying beautiful antique pieces.

    How to pick antique furniture for your living room

    A well-chosen piece of antique furniture can become an instant focal point in your living room. The perfect antique can refresh tired decor, turning a generic room into something remarkable.

    There are several things to consider when picking out antique furniture for your living room. What sort of look do you want to present - grand, playful, elegant? What will work with your current space? If you’ve found something you love, is it in good condition?

    If you take the time to choose carefully, an antique could both enhance your current decor and be a stunning centrepiece in your living room.

    Learn how to pick out the perfect antique furniture for your living room in our blog.

    Combining antiques with modern decor - our guide

    We believe that even in the most up-to-the-minute homes there’s a place for antique furniture. Combining antiques with modern decor can create a bold and surprising space with its own unique identity.

    Whether you’ve discovered an amazing antique find or want to show off a beloved heirloom, there are things you can do to create a sense of balance between old and new. Considering size and perspective, coordinating colours and introducing textiles and lighting that complement your look can all create a sense of harmony.

    For some in-depth tips, check out our guide to combining antique furniture with modern decor.

    There are some amazing antique deals to be had online, but finding them takes a bit of know-how.

    Finding hidden storage in antique furniture

    Much of the appeal of antique furniture is in its ability to make a statement - but vintage pieces often have practical uses too.

    With many antique pieces there’s more than meets the eye. Hidden storage was popularised by Italian cabinetmakers in the late 16th and 17th Centuries, with the technique imported to Britain and America by the 18th Century.

    The prospect of finding a secret compartment can be part of the thrill of owning antique furniture. It can be great fun hunting for concealed storage spaces in a new antique piece - in this article we show you how.

    The world’s favourite antiques: An infographic

    One of the most fascinating things about antiques is the way they reflect the traditions, trends and craft techniques of the people who made them.

    An antique speaks volumes not just about when it was made, but about where it was made as well. Every country has its own unique heritage - so it’s not surprising that the types of antiques that are most popular vary a great deal from place to place.

    Find out what the world’s favourite antiques are with our infographic.

    A beginner’s guide to buying antiques

    So you’ve decided you want to start buying antiques. Great! But what next…?

    It can be difficult to know where to begin when you first take the plunge into the wonderful world of antiques. Where do you find them? How do you know you’re getting a good deal? How do you spot a fake? And what actually counts as an antique anyway?

    With many antique pieces there’s more than meets the eye.

    Our no-nonsense beginner’s guide explains everything you need to know to get going. Start learning about antiques now.

    How to integrate antiques into your home

    There’s no doubt that a stunning piece of antique furniture can give your home the wow-factor - but it’s important to choose carefully to make sure your antique fits in with your decor.

    An antique that you fall in love with in the shop may not have the same effect in your home. Think carefully about how it will complement the rest of your space. Consider colour and style, remember that less is more and don’t be afraid to give antique pieces a revamp if they don’t quite fit in.

    Get more top tips on integrating antiques into your home in this blog.

    How to use architectural antiques in your garden

    Antiques are often thought of as a way to make a bold statement inside the house. We’re not arguing with that, but there’s an amazing array of stunning pieces for the garden too.

    Architectural antiques can make a garden sing. From antique drinking fountains to Victorian wrought iron garden chairs, antiques can give any outdoor space that little something special.

    Check out this blog for some expert tips on how to use architectural antiques in your garden.

    Everything to look out for when buying antique furniture

    Whether you shop for antiques online, at fairs and markets or in antique shops, you need to know what you’re looking for if you want to spot a gem.

    It’s important to know how to check for signs of quality craftsmanship, look for damage or replaced parts and identify reproductions. The last thing you want is to fall in love with an antique piece only to find out it isn’t really what you thought it was!

    Find out what you should be looking out for when buying antique furniture.

    No matter what your home looks like or what your budget is, the perfect antique for you is out there somewhere

    Hunting for, buying and owning antique furniture is a real joy. No matter what your home looks like or what your budget is, the perfect antique for you is out there somewhere - you just need to find it!

    We hope our tips and articles help you along the way in your antique journey. If you want to know more, please don’t hesitate to get in touch with us - we’re always happy to talk antiques!


  • What can you do with your chimney in the summer - a guide

    Posted 30 April 2020

    What can you do with your chimney in the summer - a guide

    What to do with your antique fireplace during summer

     

    Our antique fireplaces are wide ranging in their historical period, manner of decoration and in their embellishments. We believe that fireplaces help to centre focus when entering a home and tie in numerous elements around it.

    However, during summer, fireplaces lose the function that they had in winter. Many people tend to abandon the care of this central component until the season has finished. Here at Westland we want to highlight the actions you can take to give your fireplace that much needed care it deserves. Be it an inspection or a creative decoration - here’s what to do with your chimney during the summer.

    Inspection for wear and tear

    As fireplaces are inactive across the summer months, the season is a key time to inspect it for wear and tear - as well as any possible creosote build up. We would recommend asking a master chimney sweep to do this, as there are elements to a chimney which an untrained eye will certainly miss.

    If your fireplace requires any maintenance then a HETAS registered professional should undertake the work.

    Decoration around the fireplace

    Summer is a great time to rejuvenate the look and feel of a room, especially if it's beginning to look tired after a long winter. Beginning with an unexpected area such as the fireplace can open up opportunities to be inventive and fresh with your choices.

    The mantle

    Often we don’t tend to think about how the mantle can accentuate an antique fireplace, especially as it is designated as a place to sit family photographs, birthday cards and more. However, why not spruce it up with some botanicals which match the colour of your fireplace? A contrast of daffodils or yellow tulips can bring out the white in a modern fireplace feature. Botanicals are also a great summer addition which will help to warm up an empty centrepiece.

    Contrasting furniture

    It can also be good to think about what furniture you may already have in the room. A bench or chair could be easily moved in front of the hearth to allow for additional seating space. This is also a neat trick to accommodate those numerous guests invited round during summer. Temporary shelving may also alleviate some needed space.

    Decorating an antique fireplace

    We’ve highlighted some decorations that can be used around the fireplace during the summer, so now we’ll take a look at what can be done within it.

    Screen/cover

    A decorative screen can help to cover up your fire and give it a unique look. It could be colour matched with the fireplace exterior, and also partnered by a certain pattern or texture. Using a diamond locked grid can look elegant - otherwise a floral decoration will help to bring in a summer feeling.

    Birch twigs or logs

    Likewise, a bundle of wood in the fireplace can definitely allow the outside, inside. These will fit in well to a fireplace interior in a traditional setting. Some short cut logs will make the fireplace look less empty and add a rustic look to its decoration. For a more modern touch, tie together birch twigs to create a contrast of white and brown which looks good above a lightly coloured mantle.

    Books, candles and flower pots

    Finally, think of adding some books in your fireplace. Stack or order them neatly within the hearth. Candles can be either used as decoration or to give off a minimal amount of heat during the summer months. Other summertime fixtures that could be placed within the fireplace could be statuettes or even flower pots.

    Conclusion

    During the summer your chimney and fireplace can really come into their own. Recognising the benefits of a thorough inspection during this season will save time spent during winter maintenance. Decoration can also liven up the appearance of an antique fireplace; dedicating thought and time into what can be placed upon the mantle or on the hearth floor can have brilliant results. Remember, summer needn’t be a time to neglect this beautiful centrepiece of any room. If you’re thinking of adding a new antique fireplace or mantle to your home, then have a look at Westland’s comprehensive collection.


  • The history of the mirror and its evolving style through the ages

    Posted 15 April 2020

    The history of the mirror and its evolving style through the ages

    With a history spanning back millenia, the humble mirror has a rich and versatile past, a story preserved in the antique mirrors we see today.

    From the mirror’s origins 8,000 years ago, different cultures have made mirrors out of copper, polished stone and bronze to name a few - ending with the aluminium-backed mirrors we all have in our homes today.

    Nowadays, antique mirrors have both stunning aesthetic decorative purposes and practical applications.

    Not only do mirrors amplify natural and electrical light, they are masters of illusion; making spaces appear and feel so much bigger than their physical dimensions.

    And despite their transition from being rare objects owned only by the few to being commonplace possessions, the mirror’s decorative popularity still endures to this day, and none more so than in rare and authentic antique mirrors.

    A brief history of mirrors

    Scientists date the earliest mirrors to Anatolia (modern-day Turkey) circa 8,000 years ago.

    Back then they were crafted from obsidian, a type of volcanic glass, which was ground and polished until it reflected images, albeit darkly and distortedly.

    All across the world in the following millenia the mirror appeared again and again in different forms.

    They were made from polished copper in Mesopotamia and Egypt from 4,000 to 3,000 BC, in Central and South America made from polished stone from 2,000 BC onwards, and also appeared in China and India made out of bronze and copper around the same time.

    Venetian innovation

    Techniques for creating mirrors advanced along with society. It was the Venetians that popularised mercury mirrors, so early (pre-18th century) mirrors of this manufacture are likely to be Italian.

    These were made by coating glass with a mixture of tin and mercury.

    As a general rule, earlier mirrors tend to be slightly smaller, or with sections of mirrored glass, as there was not the ability to produce single sheets of large glass until the late 18th century.

    Only the very wealthy could afford very large panes of glass. .

    For this same reason, throughout history floor length mirrors were very rare. The majority of people never saw their full reflection - unthinkable in today’s modern age.

    The success of Venetian mirror makers was such that it was said the French court of Louis XIV sent spies to Venice to steal their secrets.

    The spies must have been successful as France soon became renowned mirror producers in their own right!

    One of the first uses for the new-found ability to create Venetian mirrors in France was creating an enchanting hall of mirrors in the Palace of Versailles, featuring 357 mirrors titled the ‘Galerie des Glaces’.

    The French did not keep such a monopoly on their mirror-making secrets, and techniques spread to other countries soon after.

    In the early 19th century, a new, safer method of mirror-making was invented, using silver nitrate to replace the highly toxic mercury. This soon replaced mercury altogether.

    Today we use aluminium in mirrors. It’s light and cheaper, and crucially, not poisonous!

    Mirror frames

    Earlier mirror frames tend to be made of carved wood or carved wood and gesso.

    They are called giltwood mirrors if a thin layer of gold leaf has been applied over the carved surface

    Pine and gesso is a more common material, the detail being made from wire and gesso. A thin layer of gold leaf is usually applied over the top.

    Rococo style mirrors

    The Rococo style, or Late Baroque style, began circa 1730.

    Rococo wall mirrors are characterised by their heavy, ornate frames. The complex frames were sculpted in plaster and often gilded.

    Derived from ‘Rocaille’, which was originally a method of decorating using concrete, pebbles and seashells, Rococo style uses natural forms like shells, and floral/leaf motifs.

    English Regency wall mirrors

    The Regency era took place between circa 1811 and 1820, at the end of the Georgian era.

    English Regency mirrors were more angular and simple, often with architectural columned frames.

    French overmantel mirrors

    Overmantel mirrors are designed to fit over a mantelpiece, usually resulting in a flat bottom edge that runs parallel to the mantel.

    French overmantel mirrors are some of the most decorative mirrors.

    They are often very tall, intended to sit above fireplaces in rooms with very high ceilings.

    Chippendale style mirrors

    English mirrors of the 18th century often draw inspiration from Thomas Chippendale, with fine carving and a light frame.

    Chippendale style furniture was recognised for its innovative design and high quality and was influenced by the Rococo style, which resulted in ornate gilded mirrors.

    Chippendale style mirrors are most often naturalistic in form.

    They are generally made of mahogany, but are also made of walnut, cherry or maple.

    Victorian mirrors

    Victorian mirrors were made during the reign of Queen Victoria, between 1837-1901.

    Mirrors of this period often adopted styles of periods past, and were known for being grand or elaborate.

    Victorian mirrors are usually the most heavily carved, with bold decoration.

    The Victorians didn’t solely favour gilt, but often opted for woods such as mahogany or rosewood.

    Tips for buying the perfect mirror

    When buying an antique mirror it is always important to check the glass for any damage, chips, cracks or scratches.

    It is also desirable to have the original glass that the piece was made with. This might be mercury glass which is particularly sought after.

    A good way to identify mercury glass is to see if there is a slight sparkle to the reflection behind the glass.

    Conclusion

    Mirrors have a long and interesting history that stretches across the world and dates back centuries.

    It is this rich history and the unique characteristics of each style of mirror that makes antique mirrors an attention-demanding centrepiece for any room.

    If you’re looking for a beautiful antique mirror, Westland London have a wide and varied selection to choose from. Check out our stunning range here.


  • Pick the perfect antique fireplace for your home - a guide

    Posted 24 March 2020

    Pick the perfect antique fireplace for your home - a guide

    Choosing the right antique fireplace for your home

     

    Fireplaces are the heart of the home - or should we say hearth of the home?

    What started as a few branches on a cave floor has transformed into a magnificent piece of art that can enhance almost any home.

    But one thing remains unchanged: it remains a focal point for friends and family to gather around, especially on a cold winter’s night.

    An antique fireplace is a splendid centrepiece, one that will be there for years to come.

    Therefore it’s important you buy the right one.

    Here’s our simple guide to choosing the perfect antique fireplace:

    Location, Location, Location

     

    The first fundamental question when choosing your antique fireplace is where it is going to go.

    For most people this is the living room - but you don’t have to be like most people.

    There’s nothing stopping you from placing an antique fireplace in any room you want, whether it be a dining room, kitchen, bedroom or even a bathroom.

    What room you decide to put the fireplace in might be determined by practicalities.

    For instance, you might put it in a room that’s always cold or a weird nook where there’s a chimney breast.

    The reality is most people are limited to where a chimney (or some other suitable vent) currently exists. Unless, you’re willing to pay to put one in.

    Size is important

     

    You don’t want a Christmas tree scenario to get home and find that it’s too big.

    A fireplace is not like a Christmas tree - you can’t just cut the top off.

    Here are our top tips to prevent this from happening:

    1. If you have a chimneybreast, you will need to make sure that the fireplace is smaller than the width of the chimneybreast.
    2. Take pictures of the room that you want the fireplace in so you can be sure your new fireplace compliments your space, instead of overpowering or overcrowding it. Visualising your home from memory can be a surprisingly difficult task!
    3. You will also need to think about depth, making sure that the fireplace doesn’t stick out into the room too much.

    What happens if you’re in the shop and you’re still not sure if the fireplace is the right size? In that case we suggest measure the fireplace in the shop and then measure it out at home .

    Remember, bigger is not always better - make sure the fireplace you choose is appropriate for your space.

    Looking Good

     

    You may want a fireplace that is contemporary with your house. Fortunately, there are many antique fireplaces to choose from.

    At Westland we offer fireplaces from a number of different periods, ranging from the Renaissance to Art Deco.

    If your house is a listed building, then it is likely that you will need to choose a fireplace of the same period, and you may also require planning permission.

    That being said, antique fireplaces do not have to be exclusively installed in older homes. .

    The choice can also be overwhelming, but we’re here to guide you from the curves of the Rococo era to the square lines of the Victorians.

    You may also want to think about the material you are using.

    We offer antique fireplaces made from a range of different materials; such as marble or cast iron. Marble is beautiful and comes in numerous colours, so there are plenty of options to suit your interior!

    Marble fireplaces do tend to be more expensive, so if you are on a budget, a wooden surround can be a good option, as it can be painted any colour, and even painted with a faux marble effect if desired!

    Whether you’re shopping by era or material, our website contains a variety of fireplaces (as well as many other antiques) that would be perfect in any home.

    It’s what’s inside that counts

     

    A fireplace is essentially a decorative surround, so be sure to know what is happening with the interior of the fireplace first if you wish to set a fire.

    You will need to know what kind of fuel you wish to use – if any – and also check its suitability with a HETAS registered engineer.

    You can then choose a variety of options for the interior, such as a fire grate or even a wood burner.

    When making your mind up, there are a few questions you need to ask yourself:

    • What aesthetic are you going for?
    • How much heat do you want from the fire? Will it be the main source of heat or will there be central heating?
    • How much effort are you willing to put into upkeep and maintenance?
    • How difficult is it / how much will it cost to install the different options? For example, a real fire will require a fire box.
    • How energy efficient do you want it to be?

    Choosing the right antique fireplace for your home

    We hope you are ready to choose the perfect antique fireplace for you and your home. If you’re searching for inspiration, why not give our Willesden showroom a visit?

    We’re always happy to help and to answer any questions you might have.


  • How to identify Victorian furniture - a guide

    Posted 19 February 2020

    How to identify Victorian furniture - a guide

    A Guide to Victorian Furniture

     

    Victorian furniture refers to the style of antique furniture that was made during the reign of Queen Victoria (1837 – 1901). It is often revivalist in style, in that it adopts stylistic motifs from other periods, creating huge waves of revivals with nostalgic nods to the past.

    Victorian furniture pieces are valued for their opulence and elegance. Queen’s Victoria’s taste for grandeur shaped the period enormously, and grand and elaborate furniture was in fashion for much of her reign.

    There is a rich variety within Victorian furniture, each piece having been influenced by its individual revival. Pieces can be identified via their iconic features which make them authentic to their time. In this article, we explore some of these different styles and take a look at what aspects of Victorian furniture you should look out for to identify them when purchasing pieces.

    Victorian Styles

     

    Gothic Revival

    The gothic period covered the 12th to the 15th century, originating from French gothic architecture in the early 12th century. You can see the heavy influence of the medieval gothic architecture in the 19th century, with the revival style imitating the castles and glorious cathedrals of Europe. Victorian gothic furniture took on this style of detailed carving and geometric forms and became a popular aesthetic in the 19th century.

    Intricate carvings mark out this style, with woods such as rosewood, oak and walnut used to craft the pieces. Heavy fabrics would often be used, like velvet or leather, and designers favoured foliate motifs for ornamentation. Design elements also include pointed arches, spires, quatrefoils, trefoils and crockets.

    Jacobean Revival

    The Jacobean Revival started in the 1870s and combined the trend for factory-made furniture with the Jacobean period. The designs were adaptations of 17th century Jacobean strapwork, and the furniture details would be wide and flat, with ornamental moulding twisted into the designs.

    Whatnots were popular pieces of this time, as were spindled chairs, circular tables and storage chests. Fabrics were dramatic, with florals, nature scenes and rich patterns. But the overarching style of the Jacobean revival was rigid, solid-looking pieces with incised ornamentation.

    Rococo Revival

    Born during the reign of Louis XV, the Rococo style represented an opposition to the classical forms of the Baroque style. This high style furniture of French influence is known for its love of the natural world, with flora, shells and fruit motifs. The Rococo revival encapsulated the grandeur of the European style, an expression of 19th-century romanticism.

    Rosewood and mahogany were favoured woods, and gold finishes were often applied to the furniture. A popular choice for the upholstery was tufting, and the pieces can often be identified by their curvaceous shapes and rounded corners.

    Renaissance Revival

    By 1850, there was a resurgence in interest for classical and renaissance art, and the furniture of this time took on these influences. Renaissance revival pieces are defined by bold features on heavy pieces of furniture, a contrast to the feminine elegance of the Rococo style. It incorporated the use of masculine arches, animal and human figures instead of natural, floral motifs, and fluted legs that imitated ancient Greek columns.

    Arts and Crafts

    The Arts and Crafts movement was one of the most significant new style movements of the 19th century, as Victorian designers and furniture makers sought to move away from the increasing mechanisation of production and return to handmade items that weren’t elaborately adorned with unnecessary ornamentation. Designers wanted to recapture the spirit of quality craftsmanship and developed a style to reflect these beliefs. Makers and designers such as William Morris, Edward Barnsley and Phillip Webb are all names to look out for.

    Overall Appearance

    Victorian furniture is often perceived as a very formal style of furniture with elaborate detailing. The style can be seen as overly ornate, or dark, but many pieces of English 19th century furniture are far from it. If you are looking for something a little less fussy, then provincial “country-style” Victorian furniture or the Arts and Crafts style is a good choice.

    Veneer

    Victorian furniture was often made using decorative veneers, such as mahogany. These beautiful grains were formed from wood that warped or curled, and these decorative pieces of wood would be glued to more stable wood for a stunning and durable finish.

    When shopping for Victorian style furniture check that the veneer is in good condition, with no peeling, bubbling or loss, as it can be expensive to repair.

    Purchasing Victorian Furniture

    Look out for maker’s stamps or labels, as this can add provenance and value to your items. Good places to look are the drawers and the back of furniture.

    Victorian furniture can often be very large, as it was made for rooms with generous proportions and high ceilings. Always measure before you buy!


  • How to pick antique furniture for your living room

    Posted 16 January 2020

    How to pick antique furniture for your living room

    Picking antique furniture for your living room

     

    Your living room is a vital part of your home - with the opportunity of introducing a new look or style if you feel like you need a change.

    Antique furniture can bring an instant sense of grandeur to any living room. But with a variety of eras, designs and furniture types available it can initially seem overwhelming to add an antique to your home.

    If you’re considering adding antique furniture to your living room but are unsure where to start, consider the following:

    What furniture are you looking for?

     

    An obvious way to know if a piece of antique furniture would add to your living room is to see if your current room is missing anything or any of your furniture needs to be replaced.

    You may have noticed your current furniture is showing some wear and tear, or maybe you’re feeling that your furnishings aren’t to your taste anymore.

    If you’re unsure where to start, at Westland we offer a wide variety of antiques that we think will add to any living room:

    If you’ve created a new design for your living room and think one of our antiques may be the perfect fit, take a look through our antiques catalogue .

    What look are you trying to present?

     

    When integrating any new look or furniture into your home, it’s important that it doesn’t stick out like a sore thumb.

    We’ve previously written about how to combine antiques with modern decor, so we understand that there are several factors you have to consider when you’re adding an antique piece to a more current environment such as:

    • Size
    • Perspective
    • Colour schemes and coordination
    • Use of textiles
    • Positioning of lighting (or whether to install antique lighting)

    Antique furniture offers a variety of looks, sizes and textures depending on the era of its design as well as its designer.

    For example, the geometric simplicity of this White Marble Arched Victorian Fireplace is notably different than the ornate floral design of this Stone Rococo Fireplace mantel.

    Make sure you’re keeping all of these in mind when you’re searching for the perfect piece of antique furniture for your living room.

    Will your antique furniture work with your current space?

    There’s nothing more deflating than buying what you think is a perfect new piece of furniture then realising it doesn’t fit in with your living space.

    To make sure this doesn’t happen, make sure to carefully consider your living room before purchasing any antique furniture. This should include:

    Taking photos and measurements of your current room to make sure that your antique furniture fits - both stylistically and physically. Make sure you have enough space to appreciate your antique furniture or fireplace

    Consider the positioning of your current furniture - your antique furniture may be able to fit, but make sure your current furniture doesn’t suffer as a result! Make sure you’ve repositioned your furniture accordingly if you’re worried your new piece on antique furniture might monopolise the room

    Being honest with yourself - a piece of antique furniture can be quite an investment. If you don’t think you have the space for antique furniture at the moment, you may have to wait until you or your room are more ready for a change!

    Check the condition of your furniture

    Buying furniture is an investment - especially for such a prominent place in the house as a living room. You don’t want to buy a piece that suits your room just for it to fall apart a few months later!

    Therefore it's important that you inspect any antique furniture before you buy it to make sure it’s of the highest quality - and that none of it is missing.

    It's important that you check for:

    • Whether you’re buying from a reputable seller - This is especially important if you’re buying your antiques online - check to see whether the seller has a chance for you to view your antique furniture (like our Willesden showroom). If that’s not possible, check their customer ratings. You can also check to see if they are a member of an organisation such as LAPADA, this way, you know they are trustworthy.
    • Woodworm - This can spread to other pieces of furniture in your living room, so watch out for any small holes in your antique furniture! This has often been treated by the dealer, but do make sure you check.
    • Replacement parts - There may be newer parts added to your antique as part of repairs or upkeep - a warning for anybody that wants an entirely original piece
    • Reproduction items - Make sure your antique furniture is genuine and not a knock-off! Search for any wear and tear as well as any other markings that may indicate its age

    If you want to make sure your living room furniture has a unique look and atmosphere, antique furniture may be the fit for you - as long as you take the time to properly consider and check it first.

    If you are interested in any of the pieces on our website, please get in contact or visit our showroom. Alternatively, take a look around our website.