Archive for January, 2012

Some fantastic new mirror additions…

Friday, January 27th, 2012
Antique French Silver Mirror

Antique French Silver Mirror

The addition of new items at Homes Direct 365 continues to increase this week, as we expand upon our decorative mirror sections and fill them out with some truly stunning ornate antique French mirrors. Perfect for giving a bit of brightness to a room, or create an illusion of more space in a small bedroom, or establish a theme with a decorative mirror as your focal piece.

The options are vast with our mirrors as we offer all types from cheval to overmantle, many of which can be hung both landscape and portrait. An indepth history for those that enjoy the stories and detail behind the evolution of the mirror was recently posted on our blog and can be read here. We definitely recommend checking out the mirror sections for those new additions and stay tuned as more shall be added in the upcoming days.

We also have an exciting announcement this week to make about our continued growth and expansion, and we are proud to make you aware we now sell select items on Amazon.co.uk. A great way for new customers to be exposed to the breath taking qualities possessed by hand crafted furniture that many of you have been enjoying for awhile. Lots more exciting developments are currently in the works!

New Items Added To The Victorian Collection…

Wednesday, January 25th, 2012

Victorian CollectionThis week one of our most popular ranges of furniture the Victorian Collection has had 4 fantastic new additions, really increasing the options for each individual to style their bedroom in a unique way. We’ve added a single 3 ft Victorian bed to the sizing options available, a beautiful cheval mirror that would truly bring a room to life with its large mirror, a 2 door hanging wardrobe similar to the existing 2 door wardrobe but with no drawers to allow for much more hanging space, and finally a 4 drawer chest increasing the size availability of Victorian chests.

Every aspect is hand carved with great skill from a combination of Fir Pine and MDF, and finished in a distressed ivory paint. The sentiments evoked with these new pieces and as a whole as part of the full bedroom set are of romance and elegance, greatly uplifting to your spirit each day. It’s these reasons the Victorian Collection is the favourite of many, and we are pleased to announce these further additions. Stay tuned as we continue to expand our collections each week!

Brand New Chandeliers at Homes Direct 365

Wednesday, January 18th, 2012

Chandeliers

It’s been a busy week of new additions here at Homes Direct 365, with many fantastic and elegant new chandeliers in all shapes, colours and sizes being added into the mix. There’s still plenty more to come as well, with lots more new items on their way. We will keep you updated as those come in, but for now we recommend taking a browse through all of the new chandeliers, many of which would add a breath taking focus piece to any hallway, dining room, bedroom…the possibilities are endless and it doesn’t have to break the bank.

Originally found mainly in medieval churches, abbeys and monasteries the origins of chandeliers can be traced back to the 16th Century. They were more decorative than functional as they were only lit on special occasions and very expensive, exclusive for awhile only to the rich. Thankfully this isn’t so much the case nowadays, as materials and skilled craftsmen become much more widely available.

Towards the end of the 16th century more experimental and ornate decoration was used, dressing them with rock crystals, a transparent form of quartz. By the end of the 17th century it was the norm for chandeliers to be decorated with polished glass trimmings and the shapes were becoming more regular. Some of these shapes are still in use today, and feature prominently in some of the chandeliers we have added to the website this week.

Chandeliers are a great feature to your home with a wonderful and rich history, please do take a look through what we have to offer you and stay tuned for a lot more!

Rochelle Wiseman

Tuesday, January 17th, 2012

Rochelle Wiseman of The Saturday’s recently ordered some of our furniture to give her place that antique French feeling, and was so impressed by the furniture she posted some great positive remarks on her Twitter page. We wanted to share that with you here on our blog as proof our quality is of the highest standard, and as a thank you to Rochelle for posting some kind words about us:

Rochelle Wiseman

Rochelle Wiseman

Mirror, Mirror: A Reflection On The History Of Mirrored Furniture

Friday, January 13th, 2012
Mirrored Furniture

Mirrored Furniture

According to the Christian teachings vanity is considered to be an example of pride, one of the seven deadly sins. An excessive belief in one’s attractiveness to others, vanity makes sense to us nowadays to be a negative, an act of sin that should be corrected. After all nobody enjoys a boaster or selfishness or people projecting their selves to be on a higher horse than others, but vanity was not always perceived with such narcissistic undertones. Before the 14th Century it simply represented futility; a lack of importance or purpose. This seems to speak to the true root of vanity, the truth that everybody wants to feel important, feel like they have a purpose and feel like they look attractive.

Presenting yourself as attractive to gain attention from a partner is a fundamental element to our species, to our survival to continue populating. In nature the male Bowerbird builds elaborate structures out of feathers and twigs, the male frog sings, the peacock displays a large colourful tail, all with the aim to attract a mate. It’s inbuilt within the genetic fabric of us, to let it consume you would result in sin according to Christianity, but to deny vanity completely would go against our nature. As humans in an image conscious society the mirror becomes our essential tool.

It’s conceivable that for thousands of years long before the actual invention of a mirror our ancestors would have been gazing at their reflections in still pools of water, but to pin point the existence of an actual mirror we go back 2,400 years where it is believed the first mirror-makers lived near the city of Sidon in Syria. Glass itself was invented in neighbouring Lebanon so it makes sense the mirror would be nearby. Through a process of blowing a thin sphere of glass into a bubble and pouring hot lead into the bulb of the glass, once cooled it would coat the inside of the glass which could then be broken into pieces. These pieces were much clearer than polished copper or bronze, and the new technology would spread rapidly throughout the Roman Empire. Useful of course for their self-admiration, but also the beginning of mirrors appearing in design as they would start to utilize it to create magical amulets.

Once embraced by the Roman’s the mirror would take its next step forward between the 12th and 17th Century. As they altered the making process slightly to give the mirror a thin metal backing it would give it much more freedom to be further incorporated into objects and as furniture. Observing and acknowledging change can be a beautiful process. From pools of water to broken shards of glass to the immense mirrored furniture and structures we know today, gradual but staggering change and evolution over time. The ability to observe is one of the great gifts of a mirror, to visually see your own change and appearance at its best and worst. From your intrigue and innocence as a child to the eventual wrinkled eyes that have seen it all, it’s all reflected back at you.

Mirrored Dressing Table

Mirrored Dressing Table

Venice would be one of the first locations where successfully experimenting with mirrored furniture pieces would take place, so much so that to this day Venetian furniture is still one of the most popular. Their creativity and ingenuity would produce fantastic pieces encompassing floral etching and unique patterns all heavily influenced by the art-deco movement. Venice at this time became the Mecca of mirrored furniture but gradually over the following centuries many left, taking their ideas with them to France and England and the rest of Europe.

By the 19th Century cheaper techniques in mirror production led to a great proliferation in their use. No longer limited to being incorporated in just furniture and wardrobes extensive use began to take place in grand decorative schemes and public places. With this a new benefit to the mirror and reflective surface would unfold, a creation of space. The ability to create an illusion that there is more is one of the key subtle features we discover with mirrors in design.

With all the inventions that we take for granted today based around the use of mirrors; microscopes, telescopes, cars, iPhone’s, HDTV’s… all of it came from that initial intrigue in our reflection. Pursuing our vanity and our natural desire to look our best and see how we appear, to follow that basic impulse too far would I agree be a path to sin. The mirror however is one of the few hopeful examples of human’s ability as a collective to progress from the initial basic instinct, move past it and see the greater bigger picture of discovery, curiosity and reflection.

A History Of French Furniture…Part II

Thursday, January 12th, 2012

We continue this week with Part II of our history of French furniture…a brief overlook at some key changes and events that lead to many of the pieces on our website today; from Rococo to Country Farmhouse, it all has a history and story.

Last week we ended Part I on the beginnings of Baroque, perfect to lead into our addition of 3 new stunning Baroque ranges just before the New Year in white, silver and gold leaf. For those that haven’t given those a look yet, they are perhaps the most ornate and lavish collections we offer. We resume onward from Baroque in 1715, with the start of Regency:

1715-1723 — Regency Style
When Louis XIV died in 1715 his five year old great-grandson whose parents and brother had already passed away, became Louis XV. He was too young at the time to take the throne, so his Uncle Philippe the Duke of Orleans was appointed Regent until the King attained legal majority in 1723. This transitional period between the opulent baroque period and the less formal rococo era of Louis XV became known as French Regence.

Design during the Regency era came to focus on being more practical and comfortable for every day use. The beginnings of the Louis XV style started here, with the flowing curves, scallop shell and acanthus leaf we associate with the Rococo style becoming prominent.

1723-1774 — Louis XV Style – Rococo
Regarded by many as the Golden Age of French furniture, Louis XV’s reign was a time of peace and prosperity, and soon became one of the greatest periods in French furniture design: Rococo style. It was frivolous and decadent, bending the rules of how furniture should appear with lack of symmetry and featured love, music and nature-inspired motifs and themes, including shells, waves, birds, and flowers. The vast history of Rococo was recently covered in-depth on our blog, with an article titled: Rococo; An Ornate And Illustrious History.

1774-1789 — Louis XVI Style – Neo-Classical
Rococo’s success became its downfall, eventually considered too frivolous. A classical revival was inspired by the discovery of Pompeii in 1748 and the resulting style became known as neo-classicism. Designers also started to look to the more architectural French furniture of the Louis XIV period. Curves were replaced with crisp and clean straight lines, but with magnificent carved detail running the length of the piece. Mahogany also became popular during this period and could be used both as a carcass wood for painted pieces and as a veneer.

1804-1815 — Empire Style
In 1804 Napoleon Bonaparte crowned himself emperor, ending years of political instability and creating what we call the Empire period. Empire furniture is typically sombre and architectural. Bold symmetrical designs replaced ornate carvings and rounded romantic shapes. Designs were often defined by architectural elements such as columns and pilasters.

1815-1830 — Restoration Style and Charles X
Napoleon’s love and desire to create an empire and conquer led to his downfall. He abdicated in 1814 following heavy military losses and defeat. The French restored the monarchy, reinstating Charles X. The royalty and aristocracy wanted to return to their previous luxurious Royal lifestyle and this marked a return to delicate rounded forms and decoration in their furniture. At the same time the middle class were on the rise, reflecting growing prosperity and providing an increasing demand for furniture.

1830-1848 — Louis-Philippe Style
By 1830 Charles X “had fallen from favor and was overthrown during three days of fighting known as Les Trois Glorieuses”. Louis Phillipe, Duke of Orleans, became France’s new leader. He managed both royalists to his right and radicals to the left, while sympathising with the bourgeois class. 
Up until this point furniture had been sold piece by piece. The Industrial Revolution however brought in new production processes and craftsmen began to make furniture sets for the bedroom and dining room.

Additional Styles:-
Art Deco
Although the movement started around 1910, the term Art Deco was only used in 1925 at the Paris design exhibition. Shapes were elegant and sophisticated, featuring bold geometric designs. Interior designers experimented with exotic woods and new finishes and materials including metals, mother-of-pearl, ivory, wrought iron, unusual wood veneers, lacquers and plastics. Inspiration was taken from geometric forms, as well as motifs from ancient Egypt and the Empire and Louis XVI periods.

Country French

 Farmhouse
Country French furniture style doesn’t refer to a historical period, but more to capturing a way of life. It draws inspiration from many eras, and represents relaxed country living. Designs are found in the country homes of Normandy and Provence.

Country French concludes our look at the various styles and history of French furniture. Hopefully there is now a little more information into the variety in style we have on offer throughout the thousands of antique French items we stock.

Our First New Range Of 2012…The Marrakech Collection

Friday, January 6th, 2012
Marrakech Collection

Marrakech Collection

Last year we discontinued a silver leaf collection of furniture that had became very popular, and the last few items in stock left in our warehouse were flying out. The quality however wasn’t consistently the highest of what we would expect and want to give to our customers, so we decided to look for a better alternative that still contained the stunning embossed pattern effect and the silver leaf design style, and would have the same charm and unique quality to give it similar popularity.

I believe with our first new range of 2012; the Marrakech Collection we have achieved that, and is a great start to the new furniture coming soon in the year ahead. It’s origins hail from the homes of Morocco and is a wonderful traditional North African design. It’s design is made from solid wood which has been overlaid with a highly decorative embossed metal layer. The quality is stunning, as it needs to be when you are dealing with embossed pattern over wood, many times it can come across looking cheap but the Marrakech Collection is clearly evident time and care and craftsmanship are abundant.

With high quality images available of this collection you can see the detail for yourself, be sure to give this collection a look. We are confident this is going to be one of those unique but popular collections.

A History Of French Furniture…Part I

Wednesday, January 4th, 2012

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With a New Year ahead of us, it feels like a great way to move forward is to first explain a little bit about where we’re coming from. We span a vast amount of styles and time periods here at the Homes Direct 365 website. Browsing through our products you will see terms like rococo and baroque and Louis XV and many more scattered throughout and may wonder where these terms come from, what the history is, what the difference between them is…you may not wonder at all and just simply enjoy how elegant and regal antique French furniture can look, but the great history of the furniture adds to that allure.

Although only reproductions, they are based on pieces with stories and memories, and in essence this is what makes antique furniture a bit more special. This week we’re going to take a look through Part 1 of a history of French furniture:

1300-1500 – Medieval Style

This period is often described as ‘Gothic’. It’s an obscure period in French Furniture history dominated by rectangular heavily carved pieces made out of solid oak.

1500 -1610 – Renaissance Style

The Renaissance style places emphasis on symmetry, proportion, geometry and the regularity of parts, appearing in regions all over Europe and taking from Greek and Roman culture. During this period furniture is still heavily carved, and there is introduction of pillars and columns framing the furniture pieces.

1610 – 1643 – Louis XIII Style

During the reign of Louis XIII, craftsmen began to make use of turned wood to form legs, stretchers and decorative columns, as well as mouldings. This period introduced the French armoire, which took over from general chests of drawers.

1643-1715 – Louis XIV Style – Baroque

In 1643 Louis XIV began his reign at age four and lasted seventy-two years, three months, and eighteen days, eventually succumbing to gangrene days before his 77th birthday. It is one of the longest documented reigns of any European monarch. Also known as ‘Le Grand Monarque’, he declared himself the Church and the State.

The reign of King Louis XIV set in motion ‘elegant’ furniture design in France. French furniture became more refined in design, less bulky, and placed far more emphasis on flowing symmetrical design. Louis XIV saw the beginnings of the Baroque style. The Versailles Palace was decorated in a strong, dramatic and exuberant style echoing the King’s strong leadership in a period of war and colonial empire building. The French classical Baroque style was grand and impressive, a symbol of the King’s power.

There’s plenty more great and prosperous periods to take a look at, we will resume with Part II shortly! Taking some time to discuss the magnificent Regency and Rococo styles that are soon to follow on after Louis XIV…