A patio dining set is the ultimate summer accessory, and like a piece of clothing it can convey many looks. Some are modern, some old-fashioned and they are made from many different materials, like wicker, resin and wood. The Queen Anne style of design is often used in traditional Amish woodworking, and is actually an offshoot of the William and Mary style, but also closely resembles much of the traditional Oriental aesthetic.
It refers back to Queen Anne, the ruler of England from 1702-1714, and embodies a refined and graceful appearance.
In general, the characteristics of a Queen Anne patio set and other items of furniture are as follows: a fiddle-shaped backrest, batwing shaped drawer pulls (in dressers, cabinets, etc.) and cabriole legs that end in a claw or block shape. The resulting look is one of old-world elegance and luxury.
Legs and Feet
The cabriole style legs of these seats are carved with elaborate detailing, with a curved knee and ending in those old-fashioned looking feet you often see in old bathtubs. Among the carvings are the acanthus leaf and seashell motifs. The foot itself takes a number of forms. The ball and claw is a carved claw foot grasping a ball; the block is flat-surfaced; the bun is rounded but flatter than a ball; the Drake is a simply carved animal paw; finally, the pad is a simple, carved foot.
The seat of a Queen Anne chair is rounded or features a horseshoe shape, with a curved or serpentine front.
The arms of these chairs are curved slightly outward, while the backrest, a fiddle-shape with a central splat, is either left plain or upholstered. For outdoor use, what you think of upholstery would actually be detachable waterproof cushions, less elegant, but much more practical for care and cleaning.
For use indoors, or even in a sunroom, you can go with the delicate and beautiful fabrics for which Queen Anne style is best known. These include chintz, velvet, damask, tapestry, needlepoint and crewel. Once again, for outdoor use, any of these materials are wrong for the job. The cushions for a patio dining set need to be made from durable, waterproof materials like Sunbrella, which is resistant to tears, fades and stains.
The Queen Anne style is almost exclusively made from wood, as it was originally. The woods used were many and varied by region and use. They included the following: ash, cherry, black walnut, maple and elm. Although some of these are usable outdoors, many of the softer woods are not hearty enough to withstand the elements. Look for sturdier hardwoods like teak, cedar and cypress for use in your patio dining set. Whatever the wood, make sure it is covered with a lacquer, oil varnish or wax. In addition to regular cleaning, the wood will most likely need to be re-oiled every couple of years.
As far as the joints which hold the pieces of wood together, these are often made of a matching wood, the benefit of which is that rusting does not occur, but it is not as strong as the alternative, metal hardware. Though original pieces used brass hardware, outside furniture calls for a rust-resistant coated metal like zinc.
The joints of these pieces are dovetail, with straight or cyma curved lines.
Originally meant solely for indoor use, the Queen Anne style can adapt like so many other styles for use in outdoor furniture. With a few modifications in design and construction, your patio dining set can retain the elegance of this antique style but still last throughout the years.