How to Decorate with British Colonial Plantation Furniture

Written by nina makofsky
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Britain's colonial era saw people investing money in lavish homes and furnishings. British colonial plantation furniture - original antiques, replicas or new pieces inspired by classic design - sets a formal tone for the home. You can opt to lighten the look with tropical accents and neutral textiles or add to the classic aesthetic with ornate and formal furnishings, finishes and accessories.

Skill level:

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Things you need

  • Architectural elements
  • Paint
  • Paintbrush
  • Textiles
  • Furniture
  • Accessories

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  1. 1

    Create a stunning backdrop for British colonial plantation furniture with elaborate architectural elements and design features. A portico, or framed porch, typifies British colonial plantation style. You can allude to this tradition by adding a lightweight plaster relief archway around your front door. Other design elements you can consider include columns, dark wood panelling, ceiling medallions, elaborate painted or carved trims, plantation shutters and wainscoting.

  2. 2

    Integrate furnishings and accessories that use the original woods and finishes of British colonial plantation decor. Look for pieces made of teak, mahogany and rosewood. Medium to dark stains work best. You can evoke the British colonial appreciation of Indian design by incorporating elaborately carved or hand-painted Indian furnishings. Gilded accents add a fussy British element.

  3. 3

    Invest in focal point furnishings reminiscent of classic British decor. Built-in bookcases with ladders, niches and shelves lend a hallway, landing or office the feeling of a British colonial plantation library. Chairs in the Sheraton, Hepplewhite and Chippendale styles give an empty corner or small space an ideal accent. In the bedroom, a four-poster bed adds British formality.

  4. 4

    Accessorise with British colonial plantation-inspired pieces. A standing mirror in a carved wooden frame marries form and function. Vintage steamer trunks reflect the British colonial romanticism regarding world travel. Finish the look with paintings, drawings or prints in ornately engraved wooden frames. Botanical, nature and animal prints were popular in the colonial era.

  5. 5

    Keep a lighter hand with textiles. The darkness of British colonial plantation furniture gets a pleasing contrast with white or cream linens. Window treatments should remain simple and light to allow natural light to flow inside and permit people to see the surrounding landscape.

Tips and warnings

  • Use period light fixtures and furniture hardware to add an authentic touch.
  • Accent lighting with table lamps, floor lamps, chandeliers or wall sconces work better in this decor style than overhead lighting.

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