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How fretwork can make all the difference when entering a home


Popular between 1875 and 1914, many period homes feature fretwork in Melbourne. Originally designed to add ornament to the harder lines of Victorian architecture, by the Edwardian and Art Deco eras, intricate designs were all the rage – and it’s a lovely way to make your entryway warm and welcoming.


The history of fretwork.

Fretwork is created by carving out interlaced portions of woodwork using a fretsaw – hence the name. It’s actually been around since the dawn of civilisation – in fact, archaeologists have discovered fretwork on furniture in Egyptian tombs dating back some 3000 years.


The famous English craftsman, Thomas Chippendale, was inspired by the geometric patterns found in ancient Chinese temples to hand carved fretwork in his 18th Century furniture designs. His creations are viewed by experts as some of the finest in the history of fine furniture making – with fretwork as its signature style.


Fretwork in Australian architecture.

In Australia, fretwork designs vary, depending on the architectural period – Victorian fretwork is typically more intricate with Art Nouveau patterns leaning towards sinuous organic shapes and Art Deco patterns preferring larger, more vertical geometric lines.


By the 1930s, the fashion for more austere architecture meant fretwork in Melbourne fell out of favour. You can sometimes see the scars in plasterwork as renovators from the 30s to the naughties ripped out unique antique examples – these can often provide vital clues as to the size and position of original decoration used in your home.


Fretwork is back in vogue.

Fretwork is now having something of a renaissance, with homeowners realising it offers an individual, visually appealing design statement that works for a wide range of entryways from Victorian to modern homes.


If you have a stark, uninviting entry way that needs a little extra pizazz to make it feel more hospitable, adding fretwork can create a friendly, open and generous ambience. You can also use it in other areas of your home – such as delineating kitchens from dining and living spaces in open plan layouts or embellish patios and awnings.


Today’s designs are usually laser cut from pine using computer numerical control (CNC) machines, although a few providers do still offer the traditional hardwood hand cut versions. That means you can now specify your own fretwork design with greater intricacy and precision, add your own unique flourishes or copy a traditional pattern with complete accuracy.


Fretwork adds a fun, graphic element to your décor, allowing you to punch up the personality of your home in a highly individual way. It adds texture to your hallway – which is often the most unloved area of your home, used as a dumping ground for keys, coats, bags and more. Yet, it’s arguably one of the most important places – it sets the scene for the rest of the house because it’s what everyone sees first.


Give your hallway a dash of timeless style. Create a grand statement as soon as your guests walk through the door – find out more about how to decorate your home with fretwork, Melbourne!