Gothic furniture history

Written by wanda siemer
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Gothic furniture history

Gothic furniture history follows closely with the style of Gothic architecture. This dramatic expression in architectural design originated in the opulent churches of the middle ages. Gothic furniture then evolved as a way for fourteenth century feudal barons to enjoy the same extravagance as the church in their castles. Gothic design and furniture has had periodical incarnations and revivals throughout history in Europe and America.

Time Frame

There are three distinct time periods for the popularity of Gothic furniture. Gothic furniture originated in churches in the middle ages around 1400. By 1500, it was developed for use in wealthy private homes and was popular until the late 1600's. It enjoyed a resurgence again in the 1800's in Europe and also in America. During the Victorian era, homes known as "Gothic revival" were constructed.


Gothic furniture began in the form of utility such as large chests and sideboards used for storing such items as hard to come by linens and bedding. Because of the constant warfare of the feudal barons, the furniture was often moved about often and repurposed by adding feet and chair backs to chests to be used for seating. Decorative and utilitarian, Gothic furniture began to take on forms such as beds, chess game cabinets and extension tables.


Prominent features of Gothic furniture include all of the elements also found in the Gothic architectural style. Among these are pointed arches, columns, elaborate tracery, linen fold, simple flower shaped cut outs, and bold turnings.

Gothic furniture history
Example of Tracery


Gothic furniture first appeared as sideboards and chests for storage. In the fifteenth century, tall back chairs and tables were also decorated with Gothic tracery cut outs. In the 1800 revival period, cabinet makers adopted the Gothic style for Victorian era revival homes. The style was largely encouraged and introduced to the Americas by the two books of Andrew Jackson Downing, “Cottage Residences” and “Architecture of Country Homes.”

Types of Wood

Gothic furniture can be found in several different varieties of wood. The most used types of wood include rosewood, mahogany, oak, walnut, and cherry.

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