In the last half of the 19th Century, a reform movement spread through the United States. It changed the way many people thought about style and health in the home. People had filled their homes with large pieces of carved furniture, thick upholstery, and heavy draperies that collected dust and germs and kept out healthful air and light. The new simpler style began with an idea by a man who was an architect and arts writer, not a furniture maker. Charles Eastlake, an Englishman, wrote the book Hints on Household Taste in Furniture, Upholstery, and Other Details.
He thought the objects in people’s homes should be attractive and well made by workers who took pride in their handwork or machine work. As the book became popular in the United States, furniture manufacturers took ideas and designs from the book and made what was named Eastlake Style furniture.Charles Locke Eastlake was the English architect and writer who suggested a home style that was cohesive whereby only a single influence dominated the furnishings of a home.
In 1872, Eastlake published his book in the United States, where it was the beginning of the American Arts & Crafts Movement. The use of rugged woods like oak and walnut and the elimination of applied decorations were characteristic of Eastlake furniture. Eastlake furniture used handcrafted joinery and he used oils rather than stains to disguise inexpensive woods as other manufacturers did. Pieces of furniture in this style had low relief carvings, incised lines, moldings, geometric ornaments, and flat surfaces that were easy to keep clean. Eastlake encouraged “honesty” in construction and finishing. Eastlake Style furniture is frequently seen in antique shops all over the United States, but especially in the east and midwest. It was manufactured by factories in the east that had branch offices in midwest cities.