What is Mechelen Style Antique Furniture?

Mechelen style antique furniture is very distinctive and exotic. It is heavily hand-carved with foliage and typically a pride of roaring lion heads too! People who know the Mechelen look often fall in love with it, but many Americans are not that familiar with this Flemish furniture style.

Mechelen Style Antique Furniture - this buffet dates to 1900This wonderful antique buffet currently in our gallery is an excellent example of the Mechelen style. It dates to 1900 and is superbly carved with winged lions on the side. Lions’ heads on the cabinets are embellished with metal rings and the craftsmen added carved figures and faces of people, as an extra decorative touch. Mechelen style antique furniture typically features dark woods, like the rich oak in this sideboard or sometimes walnut. You’ll often see stained glass as well. The original stained glass in the doors on this buffet features a striking floral design.

So how did the Mechelen style develop? In the early 16th century, Mechelen in Belgium was the capital of the Low Countries. We know these countries today as the Netherlands, Belgium and Luxembourg. Mechelen enjoyed prosperity and power thanks to its cloth trade. But in 1572 the city was sacked and burned during the Eighty Years’ War. Brussels, about 15 miles away, became the new capital.

You’d think that would be the end of Mechelen, yet the city rose from the ashes and grew famous for its furniture. Furniture crafted in Mechelen at the end of the 16th century was heavily carved as a Belgian take on the Hunting Style popular in France to decorate hunting lodges and castles for royalty and aristocrats.

1920 Oak Dining Table is typical of Mechelen style antique furnitureUsing imagery from the natural world and the hunt, Mechelen style antique furniture is lavishly adorned with stylized leaves, berries and fruit, and often boasts handsomely carved lion heads, as you can see in these pictures. This Mechelen oak dining table from 1920 boasts lions on each corner, and foliage and flowers on the apron and legs. The 5-leg table has a center pedestal that eliminates the need for stretchers, so your guests have more room to stretch their own legs!

Petite Oak Buffet is a fine example of Mechelen style antique furnitureIn the 19th century, the Dutch-speaking city of Mechelen played an important role as a hub in the new-fangled European railway network. Mechelen’s beautifully crafted and ornate furniture became even more popular as it was easy to send it by rail to customers far and wide! This petite antique oak buffet is from that era, dating to 1900 and carved with leaves, flowers, and acorns or nuts, as well as the traditional lions’ heads.1900 Mechelen Buffet Stained Glass Door
The pretty floral stained glass on the upper door is original and it’s quite amazing to think that this glass has survived over a century! Although Mechelen style antique furniture is always sturdy, this sideboard is unusual in its trim size. At just over 3 feet wide it is nicely proportioned to fit a modern home if you don’t have a hunting lodge or chateau at your disposal!

I’d love to hear what you think about this look. Is it new to you or are you a fan already? Ask me any questions about Mechelen style antique furniture in the comment box below!

Aimee owns EuroLuxAntiques.com with her best friend, Greg.  Aimee sources amazing antique furniture, vintage lighting, & high-quality reproduction furniture to help her customers decorate their homes in a unique way.  She loves her 8 (you read that right) fuzzy children and is renovating a 1920s bungalow in South Carolina. Connect with or you can sign up to receive this blog in your inbox!

9 thoughts on “What is Mechelen Style Antique Furniture?

  1. julie passanisi

    I have a 1930s Oak Mechelen dining table with carved lions. The leg of this table is missing a piece glued to the leg that kinda looks like a scone. Each leg as four of these pieces and when glued it look like a dome. I am missing 5 of these pieces and would like to know where I can order these pieces. Thank you in advance for your assistance
    Julie Passanisi
    Califonia

    Reply
  2. admin Post author

    Hi Julie,
    Thanks for your message! I don’t believe you will be able to order those pieces anywhere, but if you contact a professional furniture restoration company, they will be able to re-create those pieces for you.
    Best wishes,
    Aimee at EuroLuxHome.com

    Reply
    1. admin Post author

      Thanks for reaching out to us, but we don’t actually buy from individuals. You might try contacting an antique dealer in your area. Best wishes, Aimee at EuroLuxHome.com

      Reply
  3. admin Post author

    Hi Patricia,
    Thanks for your interest in our blog. Yes, the Mechelen style is also known as the Flemish Renaissance style, meaning that it also draws on elements from the French Renaissance style. The Renaissance in general was based on a new-found interest in all things Greek and Roman, and human and satyr heads were very commonly used in Greek and Roman decorative motifs. So to answer your question, yes – human and satyr heads are decorative elements that are found in both the French and Flemish Renaissance styles.

    Best wishes,
    Aimee at EuroLuxHome.com

    Reply
  4. Terri Dood

    We have just inherited what I believe is a Mechelen hutch. I am interested in finding out how old it is. Are there things I should look for to help me date it?

    Reply
  5. admin Post author

    Thanks for your message. Dating antique furniture comes more from experience than any one thing in particular that I can tell you for which to look. If you send a photo to me at info@euroluxhome.com, I can give you my opinion as to the age.

    Best wishes,
    Aimee at EuroLuxHome.com

    Reply
  6. john McMonegal

    i have a flemish mechelen dining table with lion heads 1890 to 1920s im trying to find the brass rings that go into the nose of lions head

    Reply

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