If you're looking to recreate a simpler, less complicated time period in your dining room, an arts and crafts dining table and chairs might just be for you. The arts and crafts furniture movement produced furniture that is very simple in its design elements, yet still emits an air of elegance.
Such dining sets create an aura of history harkening back to a simpler time, a time when people appreciated handcrafted quality and sturdy construction. An arts and crafts dining table and chairs is the foundation for a folksy yet classic dining room and home.
What is Arts and Crafts
The arts and crafts movement took place around the end of the 19th century and the beginning of the 20th century. It was in part a reaction to the industrial revolution and the increasing use of machines to make everything. During the arts and crafts movement people began to take more interest and pride in simple, hand made items made of local materials, and rejected the soullessness of machine-made products. It rejected the opulence of the Victorian era and favored simple, quality craftsmanship and good design.
History of Arts and Crafts Dining Suites
Since the period was a response to the overwhelming opulence of the Victorian era, people went to great lengths to let it be known that they favored simplicity. Simplicity became the new trend and everyone wanted to get in on it. The dining room was a perfect place to exhibit this desire for simplicity because it was where most entertaining took place. People could show guests that they didn't believe in being ostentatious, and instead impressed them with the quality of the food and the conversation. This is perhaps why dining sets are one of the most popular examples of furniture from the arts and crafts movement and why they are still popular today.
Characteristics of Arts and Crafts Dining Tables and Chairs
Furniture of the arts and crafts time period was utilitarian and practical, but also warm, friendly, and accommodating. Nowhere is it more evidenced than in arts and crafts dining tables and chairs.
Although arts & crafts design was at the height of its popularity in the early 20th century, it is still a very popular choice for contemporary homes. Arts and crafts furniture emphasizes simple vertical and horizontal lines with few (if any) embellishments. It is often made of oak and is very solid and plain in design.
The straight, square lines and absence of elaborate decoration are perfect in keeping with today's interior design styles, yet the look is still very traditional. It provides a sense of heritage and dependability and the look works for contemporary and traditional homes.
Where to Buy Arts and Crafts Dining Sets
Arts and crafts dining sets have never really gone out of style, and pieces are readily available. Period pieces are now considered antique and can get quite pricey, but you don't need to spend a fortune to get the look.
You can purchase actual mission furniture (an almost identical style, the name of which has become synonymous with arts and crafts), which is hand-produced, or you can buy mass produced items that mimic the style of arts and crafts. Stores like Crate and Barrel, Pottery Barn, and Restoration Hardware frequently have pieces made in the style, as do most other large furniture stores.
There are also plenty of online sources. Keep in mind when buying large pieces of furniture online to measure very carefully. Shipping can be expensive and if it doesn't fit you'll have to pay to send it back.
If you truly want to get the full essence of an arts and crafts dining set, purchase one from a small, cottage-style business (or build one yourself). The reason the movement became so popular in the first place is because people knew that there was something special about handcrafted quality merchandise that just couldn't be repeated with a machine. That's as true today as it ever was. Not only will you get a well-made piece, you'll be supporting small manufacturers who need the business to continue their work.