Adam Furniture

Adam Furniture

English Period Furniture – Adam Furniture (Mahogany and Satinwood 1760-1792)

Robert Adam was a Scottish architect. He spent a lot of time studying in Italy.

While he was there a large amount of excavation work was taking place, especially around Pompeii. These excavations and findings of the 1750’s had a large influence on his work.

When he returned to England he became the Court Architect to George III. There were already changes happening in the Georgian furniture, the flowing curves, the ornate carving. Adam brought back the simple classical lines of the Roman and Greek Styles.

The people then turned to Adam’s simple straight lines and simple moldings. He started the new Neo Classical style.



Adam and his brother James were primarily Architects and designed the furniture to decorate the rooms. Adam’s furniture consisted of huge pieces, sideboards with two pedestals surmounted by large classical urns.

The dining room became the most important room with a strong masculine feeling. The men would spend many hours there after the women had withdrawn to the drawing room where the furniture was lighter and more delicate.

Lyre shape chair

Adam Furniture Characteristics

  • Used other tradesmen to produce his designs.
  • Oval and shield back chairs.
  • Never used Cabriole legs he preferred to use straight, tapered legs.
  • Used low relief ornament based on Greek and Roman Motifs.
  • Often-massive pieces of furniture.
  • Lower back chairs.
  • Introduced the lyre shape, with metal rods which are still now being used in furniture making.
  • Introduced the pedestals to the side table for the start of the modern sideboard.
  • Rounded front commode.
  • Used center motifs on frieze with fluting and patereas.
  • The moldings were of the simplest kind, dentils were used.
  • Applied decoration to Wedgewood China: applied to center panel (Adam Stucco Ceilings).
  • Applied plaster motifs usually painted or gilded.
  • Used octagonal and hexagonal shapes.
  • Winged griffins.

More information on Styles and Periods of Interior Decorating

Styles and Periods
Furniture History
Decorating Styles
Period Decoration
What is Style?

Color Consultant course