Regency Period Furniture (1800 - 1830)

Furniture styles are frequently named after the historical periods in which they appear. In the case of English furniture, this frequently means naming a style after the reigning king or queen. The naming convention only partially applies to Regency Period furniture, revealing the complicated political atmosphere of England at the time.

While his father was suffering from mental illness, the Prince of Wales assumed rule of the country as an acting monarch in 1811. During this time, his official title was Regent, hence the name Regency Period. Prince George ruled for nine years until his father died, leaving him heir to the throne. From his coronation in 1820 until his death in 1830, King George IV's reign not only defined the time period for the Regency Period style, but also influenced it through his preferences and commissioned projects.

Classical Influence

Unlike previous periods, which borrowed elements from Roman and Greek furniture, Regency Period designers frequently attempted to recreate actual furniture pieces found in museums, vaults, and artwork of the time. The introduction of Egyptian artifacts sparked a desire to incorporate those elements into Regency Period fashion. Many pieces were embellished with thematic motifs of ancient gods, sphinxes, lions, and griffins. Furthermore, the use of bamboo, wood carved to resemble bamboo, and lacquered finishes was inspired by a revival of Eastern influence from China and Japan.


While all of these cultural and historical influences influenced Regency Period furniture, the style itself relied on ornamentation for its elegance, rather than the rich carvings and curved lines seen in earlier periods of furniture design. The pieces' woodworking was generally simple, with straight lines and surfaces, slender legs, and right angles. This helped to highlight the ornamentation in many ways by providing a simple background to avoid distraction.

Additionally, the size of furniture changed during this time period. Cabinets and shelving units shrank in height to allow decorators to decorate the walls with paintings, rather than the tall shelves of the past. The lower furniture height also allowed for more display space for curios and treasures.


The use of metal accents and the use of wood as a component of Regency Period furniture. Mahogany remained the most popular wood for furniture design, while exotic woods such as ebony were used in many high-end pieces. Furthermore, rosewood and zebrawood veneers added visually striking surfaces or features to the style's clean lines.

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