I love the look of a simple Swedish Gustavian-style bench. Unfortunately, real Gustavian benches are seriously expensive. After all, King Gustav III of Sweden — for whom the style is named — lived back in the late 1700s. I am often a stickler for antique originals; when I can't afford the real thing I don't simply buy the knock-off, factory-made imitation. I just go without (and pray for an eBay miracle). But when it comes to these pretty benches, I say bring on the reproductions!
Whether you buy an authentic Gustavian era antique or an inexpensive reproduction, these benches look delightful in front of a fire place, nestled in a corner as extra seating, at the foot of a bed or along a bare hallway.
The Gustavian style is a uniquely Swedish interpretation of the neoclassical furniture King Gustav had seen firsthand during his extensive travels in France. The lines are clean, simple and light (important features for a country with long dark winters). The weathered appearance and pale grey hues we associate with Gustavian furniture were originally the result of a painstaking process by which the finish has been "dry scraped" with a razor to reveal the original layers of paint underneath. In the old days, these pieces would have been tucked away in private rooms and servants' quarters, while the expensive inlaid woods and luxurious fabrics would have been reserved for the more formal entertaining rooms. More proof that I am from peasant stock, I guess. If you can't afford to shell out a few thousand for a bench, retailers like Wisteria and Restoration Hardware offer tasteful reproductions that won't break the bank.
• 1 Reproductions from Chelsea Textiles
• 2 Reproduction from Restoration Hardware, $295-$455
• 3 Reproduction from Wisteria, $229
• 4 Reproduction from Oly Studio.
• 5 19th Century antique from Avolli, $3,275
Images: as linked above