Spanish Colonial Furniture & Homes in America
The spanish influence on America is great and oft neglected and this is no less true in the area of Spanish colonial furniture in America and in the homes of settlers and colonialists of the spanish empire in North America.
Colonial Spanish America
For several hundred years Spain controlled huge sections of the colonial United States including what is today Arizona, California, Texas, and New Mexico. In this time of Spanish government over the south western American colonies a whole way of life developed derived from Spanihs culture, with its heavy Moorish influences, and then flowered and matured as it encountered and merged with the local environment.
In the 17th and 18th centuries Spanish furniture's main influences were from the Renaissance's revival of classical styles and motifs and the Islamic Moorish tradition. Most spanish furniture in the mother country was made from walnut with oak, chestnut, and pine also often used in furniture making.
Decor within Spanish colonial homes would often seem sparse, with spanish furniture makers restricting themselves, in the dining room and kitchen, to chairs, tables, stools, cupboards, and benches, in the bedroom to beds, in the living room to chests and chairs, and in the home office area to "varguenos" or travelling desks.
Colonial spanish furniture makers were delightfully expert in applying decorative touches to their creations including intricate inlaying, gilding, detailed carving, and especially painting.
Spanish colonial carved furniture often employed the unique "chip" variety of carving.
In other areas spanish colonial furniture craftsmen were adept at wrought iron work. Often used to augment the designs were wrought iron bracing of table legs, chairs, and benches.
The spanish love of and talent with leather work was also applied to handmade chairs and the surfaces of chests. Indeed the distinctive and decorative nature of Spanish colonial furniture in america is most clearly seen and admired by antique collectors today in the combination of Spanish leather furniture work with the use of metal nail heads placed side by side along edges of furniture pieces or arranged in ordered formations on surfaces.
Spanish colonial homes in america were made around a central patio or court with rooms being of rectangular shape. Constructed usually of adobe masonry and designed in far-reaching, expansive ranch style spanish homes in america displayed their debt to Spanish renaissance architecture and its moorish antecedents.
Early spanish homes in colonial times often had hand wrought iron work such as iron grilles on windows and doors and wrought iron handrails employed both for practical as well as decorative effect.
This wrought ironwork, combined with colourful roof tiles and flooring, gave an evocative and striking appearance in contrast to the plain white plaster walls.
Heritage & Revival
As much of the south western United States grows gradually more hispanic in make-up and culture the heritage of spanish colonial furniture and homes becomes perhaps of more interest and drives on those seeking revival furniture and reproductions of spanish colonial style to blend their interiors and homes into the stream of history.