What is Hepplewhite?

Hepplewhite refers to an 18th-century design style of light and elegant furniture.


Hepplewhite is a term that denotes a design style originating in the late 18th century, particularly associated with George Hepplewhite, a renowned English cabinetmaker. Although Hepplewhite himself passed away in 1786, his designs continued to be immensely popular and were detailed posthumously in "The Cabinet Maker and Upholsterer's Guide," published by his wife in 1788. This style is characterized by its lightness, elegance, and the use of contrasting veneers and inlays to create intricate patterns.

The Hepplewhite style is distinguishable by its use of slender, gracefully curved lines in furniture legs and backs, often incorporating classical motifs and elements. A signature feature is the shield-shaped chair backs, sometimes adorned with motifs like wheat sheaves, urns, or other classical symbols. The furniture typically features straight legs, contrasting with the elaborate decorative motifs and the use of marquetry.

This design style embraces a neoclassical aesthetic, drawing inspiration from ancient civilizations such as Greece and Rome, yet it makes a distinct departure from the earlier, heavier Georgian furniture. Hepplewhite's legacy lives on in the enduring popularity of his designs, which have influenced not only subsequent furniture styles but also broader aspects of interior design.


Hepplewhite furniture pieces are highly sought after by collectors and are often featured in museums and exclusive private collections. Reproductions and Hepplewhite-inspired designs continue to be popular in contemporary interior design, bringing a touch of 18th-century elegance to modern spaces.


  • What distinguishes Hepplewhite furniture from other styles?

    The distinguishing features of Hepplewhite furniture are its slender, elegantly curved lines, particularly in chair backs and legs, and the extensive use of contrasting veneers and inlay work to create intricate patterns. The shield-shaped chair back is a hallmark of this style.

  • Where does the Hepplewhite style draw its inspiration from?

    The Hepplewhite style is inspired by the neoclassical aesthetic, drawing on elements from ancient Greek and Roman art and architecture, while offering a lighter, more refined alternative to the heavier Georgian furniture that preceded it.

  • Are original Hepplewhite pieces still available today?

    Yes, original Hepplewhite pieces are still available, though they are rare and often command high prices at auctions and in antique shops. Reproductions and contemporary pieces inspired by the Hepplewhite style are more commonly found in today's market.

Practical Application

When incorporating Hepplewhite designs into your interior, consider the overall theme and aesthetic of your space. These pieces can add an air of refinement and sophistication, particularly in formal living and dining areas. Opting for reproductions or pieces inspired by the Hepplewhite style can achieve a similar effect without the expense of acquiring originals. Pairing them with light, airy color palettes and delicate fabrics can enhance their elegance.