If the nineteenth century fireplace was the cast iron design, then the twentieth century fireplace was the tiled design. It was towards the end of the Victorian period that fireplaces took on new stylistic features, including tiles and simpler patterns, that later became characteristic of the Edwardian Era.

Covering the period between 1900 and 1920, the Edwardian Era was socially and culturally shaped by the changes that came about in Britain after Queen Victoria’s death. As one historian notes, “After Victoria’s long reign, with its years of mourning, the Edwardian era was greeted by a people eager for something fresh.” Gas and electric lighting became increasingly available and popular during this period as well, inspiring brighter and more cheerful design trends.

The ornate traditions which were influenced by Regency architecture and defined the Victorian Era began to give way to simpler aesthetics featuring Art Nouveau patterns. While many fireplaces were still constructed with cast iron gates and a marble or hardwood surround, fireplaces became slimmer and taller and employed more substantial opening blocks. As the Edwardian Era progressed, architects and designers began to stray away from tiled fireplaces using the cast iron insert method and instead began to use canopies on legs with tiled panels, which they placed at an angle to the canopy.

The tiles that were commonly used for Edwardian fireplace designs were embossed, tubelined, hand-painted or transfer-printed. Glazed finishes also became increasingly popular especially those with mottles, iridescent qualities and pastel colors. Edwardian design brought about larger surrounds as well as mantles that were both functional and decorative, sometimes even designed to frame a mirror or portrait. The simple yet beautiful Clarence Arch, both with and without a keystone, reigned as the most pervasive design element of the era.

We also can’t discuss Edwardian Era architecture without discussing the continued influence of the Arts and Crafts movement, which was evidenced by the use of local materials.

Historic restoration is our specialty here at TMS Architects. Contact us to learn how we can help you breath new life into your historic home or building in New England.

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