British Colonial Furniture: Inspirations and Possibilities

One of the most timeless designs found in homes across America is also the most difficult to define.  British Colonial furniture harkens back to the exotic outposts of the British Empire, at its zenith during the Victorian era.  Popularly known at the British Raj, this huge swath  of territory covered Pakistan, India and Bangladesh.  British Colonial Furniture also includes territories included in British East India, including islands that are now part of Indonesia and Malaysia.

The furniture takes its utilitarian influence from the tropical environments in which it was found.  Using generous proportions of local wood such as Teak, Mahogany, and Mango Wood, this furniture was designed to absorb much of the humidity found in those areas.  Since the wood expands and contracts, much of the construction also used natural grasses and reeds to allow for this movement, such as rattan.   Consequently, most British Colonial furniture is defined by heavy use of dark woods with contrasting light weave, and use of other organic materials such as natural stone or marble.  

No other manufacturer we represent embodies the vision of British Colonial more than Bauer International.   With their hand-carved designs, originating straight from their factory on the island of Java (Indonesia), Bauer truly epitomizes the elegance and practicality of this time-tested style.   Here is what their website says:

With a basis of inspiration in authentic 19th century British, Dutch and French colonial designs from the West Indies, Ken Bauer launched Bauer International by bringing together his  passion for travel and culture and a love of fine craftsmanship.  Ken and his wife Dee Ann set out on a personal journey to develop a line of hand crafted furnishings and travel accessories, resulting in the founding of Bauer International in 1992.

In fact, one of our single most popular items on Carolina Rustica is the Bauer Java Plantation Lounger, which is a relaxing, comfortable way to channel the best of the old English colonies.

Palecek Furniture is also another supplier which really captures the essence of British Colonial design.  They are particularly known for their use of all types of organic materials, which blends seamlessly into a whole product.  For example, the Mandalay Six Drawer Dresser is constructed with pounded wood and rattan, with tightly woven rattan peel matting.  It’s a stunning piece.  

Of course, no discussion of British Colonial Furniture would be complete without mentioning Tommy Bahama’s Kingstown Collection, a unique collection with a sense of far-away adventure.  It is a relaxed traditional look inspired by British Colonial style, with a hint of campaign and a whisper of safari. The evocative designs provide the sense of a well-traveled life, of items hand-selected during journeys around the British Empire.  We think it’s a great representation of the darker finishes used in much of this style furniture (the Malabar finish in the Kingstown Collection must be seen to be believed!)

Whatever manufacturer you choose, Carolina Rustica has one of the broadest representations of British Colonial furniture available anywhere.  This style is evocative, of lasting duration, and heirloom quality to be enjoyed for many years.