Design by the Details: Fretwork

 

What: Cut-out or relief typically in metal or wood.  Most often a geometric pattern.  Also used to describe a two-dimensional pattern (in wallpaper or tile for example) that looks like a cut-out or relief.
History: According to Solar Woodcuts, fretwork started thousands of years ago by adorning Egyptian furniture.  It was immensely popular during the Victorian era when houses were dripping in fretwork designs.  Work was done by intricate hand saws until the 1920s when electrical motors were introduced.
Use: You can put fretwork designs on furniture, walls, use as architectural details, as window covers, as screens.  As a pattern it can be put on wallcovering, curtains, bedding, rugs, and tile.  Fretwork patterns are immensely popular right now, but to keep them from looking dated later, stick to timeless patterns and materials.  Or else you may have to wait a decade or two before bringing it back from the attic (hello brass!).  This is a wonderful way to add texture and pattern into a space.
Can you tell this home designed by Scott Snyder is located in Palm Beach?
A Chinese fretwork desk stands in for a bar in this home.
I love the shadow cast on the wall from this fretwork screen designed by Dorrington Architects in Auckland, New Zealand.
Fretwork wallpaper envelopes this bedroom designed by Jeffrey Bilhuber.
fretwork screen in Candia Fisher apartment designed by James Aman
Fretwork screens add an architectural element, allowing for privacy as well as light in this apartment designed by James Aman.

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