Jacobean Interiors & Furnishing
A Jacobean room of about 1620 in the home of a wealthy merchant would not be crowded with articles that were purely decorative and contributed nothing else to the comfort of the furnishings and interiors. In a dining room of Jacobean times there might be a new buffet, but a standing cupboard of the previous generation might serve as a receptacle instead ; there would be a long table with six legs, and although chairs were commoner, it is unlikely that more than two, one for the master and the other for the mistress of the household, would find place in the room ; joint stools and benches had to do for the family.
Many people in picturing rooms or interiors of any period, including the Jacobean, visualise a furnishing scheme which represents in every detail the particular work of that period; but there has never been a period room or interior of that kind except in the fashionable home of some Georgian grandee; certainly the early seventeenth century home of the prosperous merchant would not be without survivals of furniture from the whole Tudor period. The furniture maker's work during the 17th century was intended to outlast a human lifetime, and chests especially would be in use generation after generation, their colour gaining in depth and mellowness with every year.
From the end of the Elizabethan time to the establishment of the Commonwealth furniture making and interior design developed in two separate ways. The extravagant and extremely luxurious work was confined to palaces and great houses, although the wealthy aristocracy and the court did not absorb all the skilled craftsmanship of the country ; but this form of grand interior furnishing was arrested by the coming of the Commonwealth.
The other type of interiors and furnishing was not dependent upon costly fabrics, velvets, tapestries, brocades and fine silks for its richness, but gained a subtle effect of light and shade, a sparkle and a glowing beauty, from the manner in which plain surfaces were decorated. Ornament was applied, having been carved, turned or moulded to produce an effect of high relief. Geometrical patternings appear; strapwork is already familiar in the decoration of the period, and fretwork, bosses and split balusters are all applied to panelling and furniture in a variety of fashions ; but the classical manner develops more strongly in connection with interior decoration than with furniture.