An early 20th Century Oak side table with barley twist legs joined by barley twist stretchers for added strength. | source: 1stdibs
Keegan Robinson, of Lemon Drops Reclaimed, chose a sleek black paint finish for this vintage barley twist occasional table which gives it a striking contemporary edge. | source: Lemon Drops Reclaimed via Instagram
What is the definition of Barley Twist?
Have you ever heard someone mention the term “Barley Twist“, “Barley Sugar Twist“, or “Barley Twist legs” and wondered what on earth it meant? Well, now you have to wonder no longer – we will define Barley Twist for you! Here is the latest addition to our Decorating Dictionary…
Barley Twist: is a turned furniture feature resembling a spiral corkscrew-like form named after “barley sugar twists”, a type of traditional sweet / candy. Hugely popular in the 17th century, the barley twist was often a favoured choice for furniture legs, struts and decorative furniture trims. This turned furniture feature was inspired by the ancient Solomonic column, a twist-fluted column frequently used in Eastern and Byzantine architecture of the Late Antiquity period. Another variation of this design feature is called an “open barley twist”, which has two intertwining twists and a hollow centre, similar in shape to that of a double helix.
With the current Nostalgic trend words like “Vintage” and “Antique” gets thrown around regularly. Often confused, its definition boundaries have become seriously blurred and vague. So here, to relieve you of all confusion are the most acceptable definitions of Vintage and Antique we could find…
Vintage: is defined as something that is 20 years or older. The term “vintage” is actually a wine-making term used to define a season’s harvest at a specific vineyard. Like wine, a furniture item described as “vintage” should also speak of the era in which it was produced. Vintage can mean an item is of a certain period of time, as in “vintage 1950’s” but it can also mean (and probably always should) that the item exhibits the best of a certain quality, or qualities, associated with or belonging to that specific era. (Defined with a little help from Ruby Lane)
Antique: applies to an object or piece of furniture at least 100 years old. Its rarity, condition, utility, or other unique features plays a big part in whether it is desirable as a collectors’ item. Well looked after antique pieces often appreciate in value over time and is seen as an investment, unlike the mass-produced contemporary furniture pieces of today.