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Home decor and aesthetic has changed a lot since the 1700s. Three hundred years ago, before the spikes in population we’ve experienced in modern years, homes were created with more intention, and decor was a very telling aspect of a family’s status and class. 

While many parts of this still remain true, in the department and appliance stores we have today, the quality of decor in the home varies much more greatly than it did in the past. In the 1700s, family homes had a lot of class and style, from the standard furniture to the spare linens, and there are stories to tell by observing photos and antiques from these times.

Aesthetic Touches

Cookie cutter homes did not exist in the 1700s like they do today. If your family was wealthy enough to afford a home, chances are the home came in a classic style with a fireplace, high ceilings and a room for any occasion. Homes were designed with attention to details like wall and window trimming, and an aesthetically sensible layout — but not just to be affordable. They were designed with purpose and care, and in the days before air conditioning and central heating, this meant a highly functioning fireplace capable of heating a home.

Fireplaces are now considered almost uncommon, as many homes no longer provide the space and structure needed to sustain a fireplace, and central heating is seen as an easier and more effective way to heat a home. Today, homes with fireplaces often have central heating as well so as to not depend on a fireplace for warmth, and the fireplace is more for ambiance. While the aesthetic touch of a well-maintained fireplace and matching room is inarguable, they are a timeless but potentially expensive centerpiece to upkeep.

However, depending on where you lived in the 1700’s, staying warm was the name of the game. Medicine at that time was less advanced, and people often died of common illnesses like fevers and the flu. Therefore, a roaring fireplace, insulated windows, and warm linens were status symbols not only because they helped keep a person warm, but also because they decreased a person’s chances of developing illnesses.

Decor and Function

Good sleep has always been an important part of living well and maintaining a person’s health, which is why soft, warm and high quality layered blankets grew in popularity in the 1700s. You can still see this style of layered bedding and quilt spreads in modern interior design, as it remains both effective and fashionable, providing a good night of sleep that allows the body to recover from long, stressful days. Beautiful quilts, artfully-adorned pillows, and high-thread count linens continue to be a status marker today because quality sleep will always be important to good health.

Beds are still an area people choose to invest in and depending on your income and the size of your home, you may have a large, classic, four poster bed frame with soft bedding and hanging silk linens, such as the kind of soft and fancy materials that were developed in the 1700s.

Although the decor had a function, its importance also depended highly on the aesthetic touches it brought to a room. Today, minimalist aesthetic is becoming very popular, which means people opt for simpler decorations over detailed bed frames and linens.

Washrooms also used to be large and open, with freestanding bathtubs that were filled with a mixture of cold and boiling water to create a comfortable bath temperature. These rooms were often ornately designed with deep sinks and decorative spouts and handles. Today, with our functioning plumbing and easily adjustable water temperature, many homes don’t even have bathtubs, rather standing showers with shower heads that use a large range of pressure settings. Practicality has dominated the delicate intricacies of decor and aesthetic.

Cultural changes in moving patterns and the range of affordability of decor today have changed the meaning and function of how we decorate our homes. Where homes were once passed down through generations, people today often buy homes only to sell them a few years later, which means that a lot of families don’t invest in homes like they used to.

However, the aesthetic of homes remain a sign of status and style, and although we no longer need fireplaces to keep us warm, they will always be highly valued centerpieces for those who like them. This is also true for other home details; although people are more concerned with practicality, ornate furniture and home designs, and decorative linens will always be a sign of style that values classic decor.