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Dutch Colonial Furniture, Architecture & Homes

The Dutch Colonial Period

From the early seventeenth century the Netherlands intermittenly held control of American lands southwards from Canada to Virginia and inland as far as the Delaware river. By 1674 English efforts to eliminate direct Dutch influence in North America were finally successful but many Dutch settlers remained and Dutch culture and living styles continued to exert some influence on various areas including those of furniture, home decor, and home design.

Dutch Colonial Homes & Architecture

Traditional Dutch homes were of the baroque style made of stone or brick and stood three or four storeys high. Roofs were thatched and often shingles, rather than clapboards, were put to use for covering rooves and sides of houses.

In the Dutch New York of the 17th century, or New Amsterdam as it was then called, a typical street saw rows of brick houses with bright red and blue tiled roofs. These Dutch colonial homes had, as per the exterior Dutch architecture tradition, raised stone door steps at front entrances.

Dutch Colonial Door
Dutch door, Senate House, Kingston, N.Y.

Interiors of Dutch houses usually had a cellar and also sometimes a cellar kitchen. Main floors had front and back rooms and second floors contained bedrooms and also garrets with clock lofts overhead.

Colonial Dutch Furniture Heritage

Dutch furniture in colonial times was made in the baroque style with a heavy and ornate form.

Bedroom Furniture

Bedrooms of Dutch homes in the colonial era were dominated by very large wardrobes known as "kas" replete with ornately carved decorative accents and massive panels which were often painted with flower or fruit motifs.

Dutch Painted Chest
Dutch Painted Chest.

Dutch beds were sometimes built in to an alcoved corner of the bedroom complete with panelled sides and end and door like barriers to protect the occupants from the night air.

Dutch Colonial Chairs

Chairs made or imported by Dutch settlers came in two broad types: elaboratly turned, carved, and scrolled baroque (fiddleback chairs), as well as simpler ladderback chairs. Either model of chair would normally have seats woven of rush or splint. What distinguished Dutch colonial style chairs from their Pilgrim counterparts was the type and extent of the turning.

Dutch Chair
Dutch Chair.

Dutch Colonial Tables

Tables whether dining or otherwisse were usually made of heftier and stronger stuff than in New England. Wide, - up to four inches -, turned legs distinguished Dutch gate-leg tables and very slanted legs graced the frames of side and occasional tables.

A Dutch colonial specialty in the dining room was a trestle type dining table that held a large storage case built in just below the top.

Dutch Decor

Dutch homes in the colonial age often contained interior decoration such as figured storied glasses in windows and portraits hanging on walls. Additionally small decorative mirrors and Friesland clocks as wall decor items reminded Dutch colonial settlers in America of the homes they had left behind.

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