Trend-setting Across America: The New Medieval Architecture

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Corbels, or decorative brackets, are one of the most versatile decorative ornaments that can be used to enhance the architectural beauty of any room . Corbels are growing in popularity and can be used just about anywhere. By definition, a corbel is an architectural bracket or projection from a wall. They often support a cornice, or moldings, an arch, or some other type of overhang.

In Medieval architecture, a corbel was the name given to a piece of stone which jutted out from the wall whose purpose was to support any weight lying on top of it. A ‘tassel’ or ‘bragger’ was the name given to a piece of timber extending out from the wall instead. The word corbel actually originates from the Old French and is derived from the Latin corbellus meaning raven, referring to its beak-like feature. Corbels are made from wood, plaster, marble, stone and polyurethane. Corbels are used interiorly as well as on a home’s exterior. Decorative corbels can be used to adorn cabinets, furniture, pilasters, and door panels or as brackets for shelves and mantels.

While Romanesque corbels were often plain in appearance, occasionally they were also carved into heads of humans, animals and other patterns. Sometimes they were carved into imaginary beasts. Structures built during the Early English period were frequently decorated with elaborately carved corbels.

Corbels of great size and beauty, with rich carvings, carried balconies in Italy and France. These were some of the greatest examples of the Italian 16th century style. In England, wooden corbels bearing window-sills or oriel windows flourish. Gothic Revival style homes and buildings are often built with oriel windows.

Corbels occasionally end with a point that looks like it is growing into the wall or forming a knot. These are many times bolstered by angels and other figures. In later periods, carved foliage and other ornamentation was adopted.

Corbelling, which has been used since Neolithic times, is a technique where rows of corbels support a parapet or a projecting wall. Between the supporting corbels of the battlement, was an opening in the floor called a machicolation. Stones, burning objects or hot liquids could be released onto enemies or attackers at the foot of the defensive wall.

Common in Medieval architecture, corbelling later became a decorative feature without the openings of the machicolations. Corbelling which supports upper stories and corner turrets became typical of the Scottish Baronial style during the 18th and early 19th centuries.

Today, decorating with architectural corbels has been adopted by homeowners, interior decorators, builders, millworkers and furniture designers. Use corbels with crown molding to add flair and style to any home restoration project. Create lasting impressions and beautiful architectural designs that reflect anyoneÂ’s personal style. Decorative brackets are great accents to use on furniture, walls, as art, or even on the exterior of a home. They truly are setting trends across America