Corbels – Style and Function
Corbels and brackets serve both a functional and an artistic purpose. These design features are specifically crafted to support heavy weights, and as such, corbels are often used in place of simple shelf brackets when the load that they will bear is great. In addition, corbels add architectural interest to a room; the wide variety of the sizes, shapes, and designs in corbel options means that these distinctive elements can either quietly coordinate with an existing decor or serve as a design focal point for the room.
As an architectural device, corbels have a long history. The word "corbel" derives from the Latin word for raven and from the French word “corbeau”, or crow, in reference to the corbel's resemblance to a raven's or crow's beak. Early uses of corbels date back to Neolithic times, and corbels were used in both ancient Chinese architecture and in medieval structures. While corbels historically were often carved from stone, contemporary designers are much more likely to utilize corbels made from wood rather than stone versions.
While corbels can enhance almost any room, they are more commonly found in kitchens as supports for counter tops, cabinets, or stove hoods, you'll also find corbels supporting fireplace shelves and heavy bookshelves elsewhere in the home. Large corbels can also make an appearance as supports for balconies on a home's exterior wall. Indeed, the many choices in corbel designs has resulted in their popularity in more places than ever before.
The first decision to make when choosing wood corbels for your home involves the function: are your corbels more to support a heavy weight, or is your intention to use the corbels as more of a decorative device? If your primary purpose is to use corbels to support a heavy counter top, shelves, or similar weight, then you will need to pay special attention to the corbel's size and composition. To properly provide support, the top horizontal surface of the corbel must extend underneath to at least the halfway point of the shelf or counter that it is holding up, and it is even better if the corbel extends a bit beyond the halfway point.
For many homeowners, the decision to install wood brackets stems more from a decorative need. It's easy to see why, as corbels can be intricately crafted pieces of art that showcase the grain and color of wood to its best advantage. From clean and stylized designs to whimsical animals, angels, or gargoyles, the addition of corbels can dramatically alter the appearance and feel of a room. While some designers select corbels that adhere to the room's architectural style, corbels are frequently used to make a significant artistic statement and serve as the room's focal point. One caution when using wood corbels as a decorative device: they need to be installed so that they give the appearance of providing support to something, even if the corbels actually are only decorative. This prevents the corbels wood brackets from looking out of place.
When you are ready to investigate a variety of corbel styles that will add functionality and beauty to your home, check out the many options at InvitingHome.com. You'll find a huge variety of styles, sizes, and types of wood, and you'll even discover corbels made from polyurethane that feature the look of real wood but with the easy care of this lighter-weight material.
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