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Interior Design and Furniture Cambridge: Exploring the Edwardian Era

Welcome to our blog series, 'Design History,' where we delve into the past to gain insights and inspiration for our modern designs. In this edition, we will explore the captivating world of Edwardian architecture and...

Welcome to our blog series, 'Design History,' where we delve into the past to gain insights and inspiration for our modern designs. In this edition, we will explore the captivating world of Edwardian architecture and interior design. Join us on this journey as we uncover the beauty and elegance of the Edwardian era.

A Glimpse into the Edwardian Era

The Edwardian era, spanning from 1901 to 1910, was a time of sophistication and refinement. In the United Kingdom, King Edward VII reigned, bringing with him a new sense of style influenced by continental Europe. This era marked the transition from the opulent Victorian era to a period of leisure and elegance.

Notable architects during this time, such as Edwin Lutyens, Charles Rennie Mackintosh, and Giles Gilbert Scott, left their mark on the architectural landscape. The Edwardian architecture was characterized by a blend of styles, including the Edwardian Baroque, inspired by Christopher Wren's designs of the 17th and 18th centuries.

The Edwardian Style - A Fusion of Traditional and Modern

Edwardian houses were built with a fusion of traditional and modern influences. The Queen Anne style, popular in the late Victorian period, continued to inspire designs. The Arts and Crafts movement also left its mark, with vernacular traditions and neo-Georgian elements being incorporated.

The Edwardian era saw the rise of three distinct house styles:

  1. Tudorbethan Style: Inspired by the Arts and Crafts movement, these houses featured rough-cast walls, small paned leaded windows, and Jacobean details such as gargoyles and mullioned windows.

  2. Neo-Georgian Style: With large bays, sash windows, and classical columns, these houses reflected the elegance of 18th-century English architecture.

  3. Edwardian Eclectic Style: An evolution of Victorian houses, this style embraced a mix of designs, incorporating Art Nouveau influences in fireplaces, light fittings, stained glass, and door furniture.

The Grandeur of Edwardian Interiors

Edwardian interiors were a reflection of the era's elegance and refinement. These interiors boasted spacious, airy rooms, contrasting with the more crowded Victorian spaces. Let's explore some key elements of Edwardian interior design:

Porches: An Entrance of Beauty

Edwardian houses featured grand porches that adorned the front of the buildings. Porches were either inside the front main wall or protruding, extending from the main structure. These magnificent porches were supported by wooden frameworks or console brackets and added a touch of beauty to the entrance.

Bedrooms: A Blend of Comfort and Fashion

Edwardian bedrooms embraced a shift towards brighter shades, departing from the dark palette of the Victorian era. The most fashionable individuals painted their walls in pastel colors, and furniture was crafted in brighter shades. Floral patterns replaced the complex Victorian designs on wallpapers and furniture.

Bed designs focused on comfort and class, with materials such as mahogany, iron, and brass being used. Arched headboards and footboards added a modern touch, while ebony inlays brought a touch of luxury. The Edwardian bedrooms were a harmonious blend of class and fashion.

Spatial Planning and Interiors

Edwardian houses were designed with spaciousness in mind. The floor plans included wider frontages, allowing for larger halls and even living rooms in some larger homes. The interiors featured:

  • Wide staircases
  • Paintings adorning the walls
  • Lighter colors and detailing, reflecting the Georgian era's aesthetic
  • The use of relief paper, stenciling, and pictorial wallpapers

The underlying themes of Edwardian interior design were expensive simplicity, sunshine, and airiness.

Colors: Bringing Lightness and Freshness

Edwardian color schemes were lighter and quieter compared to the rich hues of the Victorian era. Bright white enamel paint was used for doors, skirtings, ceilings, and panelling. Walls and woodwork were painted or papered in pastel shades, while ornaments and details were highlighted in stronger colors. The dining room stood out with its rich red and gold color scheme.

Windows: Embracing Light and Beauty

Edwardian windows were larger and allowed more natural light to flood the interiors. Stained glass, a tradition from the Victorian era, continued in Edwardian architecture, featuring brighter colors and pastel shades. Casement windows with leaded lights, stained glass, and decorative upper lights added character to the homes.

One distinctive window style was the Edwardian Sash window, featuring two sections that slid one over the other. These windows allowed for more light and offered a vast view. Edwardian windows sprouted from the main structure, often supported by brick or wooden external supports painted in white.

Doors: A Grand Entrance

Edwardian front doors were often painted in various shades of brown and green, with contrasting panels or moldings. The glass used in these doors was leaded and sometimes stained, featuring Art Nouveau elements. Internal doors reflected the style of the front door, with finger plates showcasing Art Nouveau designs.

The Finishing Touches: Furniture, Flooring, and More

Furniture during the Edwardian era ranged from heavy, dark wood pieces inspired by the medieval style to lighter, elegant designs influenced by the Arts and Crafts movement and Art Nouveau. The materials used included pale woods like oak, walnut, and cherry, as well as wicker, cane, and bamboo.

Flooring options included wooden floorboards, tiles, parquet, or linoleum. Rugs and carpets adorned the floors, with patterns reflecting softer colors and floral designs. Encaustic tiles were popular around fireplaces, in hallways, kitchens, and bathrooms, adding a touch of elegance.

Ceilings featured wood panelling or plaster beams, while walls were decorated with wallpapers, stenciling, and wood paneling. Fireplaces reflected the architectural style of each home, ranging from register grates with Art Nouveau designs to large, open fireplaces reminiscent of an ingle-nook.

Exquisite Examples of Edwardian Architecture

The Edwardian era left behind some remarkable architectural treasures:

  1. Cape Town City Hall: Built in 1905, this large Edwardian building showcases honey-colored limestone imported from Bath, England.

  2. Connaught Apartments, Alberta: A dense, rectangular, and cubic apartment block typifying the Edwardian era, providing a high-density residence in close proximity to the downtown core.

  3. Mandarin Oriental Hyde Park, London: A five-star hotel housed in a historic Edwardian-style building, characterized by its elegance and intricate craftsmanship.

  4. Cambridge, United Kingdom: While Cambridge has limited Edwardian housing stock, notable examples can be found on Hills Road, Newnham, Great Shelford, and the Castle area.

  5. The Old Granary, Cambridge: A Grade II listed building, originally a functional granary, now serves as residential accommodation. Its architectural charm reflects the elegance of the Edwardian era.

Embracing the Beauty of the Edwardian Era

The Edwardian era brought forth a blend of tradition and modernity. Its architecture and interior design showcased elegance, sophistication, and a quest for beauty. Today, we can draw inspiration from the Edwardian era to create spaces that embrace lightness, refinement, and classic craftsmanship.

Join us in our passion for design history as we continue exploring the fascinating heritage that shapes our modern world.

Reference Images:

Image1 Caption: An example of Edwardian architecture

Image2 Caption: Edwardian Porch - A symbol of beauty and magnificence

Image3 Caption: Edwardian Windows - Allowing light to flood the interiors

Image4 Caption: Edwardian Furniture - A blend of elegance and delicacy

Image5 Caption: Edwardian Chintz Fabric - Adding a touch of glamour and color

  • YouTube: Architecture of Home - Edwardian Era Homes
  • Victorian Era: Edwardian Era Houses
  • Wikipedia: Edwardian Architecture
  • Bricks & Brass: Edwardian Style
  • Building History: Edwardian Architecture
  • Medicine Hat, Alberta: Connaught Apartments Designation
  • Darwin College, Cambridge: The Old Granary
  • The Architecture Designs: Edwardian Architecture