From the earliest times, people have striven to turn their houses into homes through the use of decoration and furnishings, stimulating in turn a major commercial sector dedicated to offering the products and services essential to feed the ever-changing dictates of domestic fashion. Whilst there is plentiful evidence to show that these phenomena can be traced to medieval times, it is arguable that the eighteenth century witnessed the birth of a widespread and sophisticated consumer society. With a comparatively wealthy and socially mobile society, eighteenth-century Britain proved to be a fertile ground for ideas of home improvement and beautification, which were to persist to the present day. Turning Houses into Homes not only maps the history, changes, development and structure of the retail furnishing industry in Britain over three centuries, but also examines the relationships between the retailer and the consumer, looking at how retailers helped stimulate and shape the demand of their customers. Whilst work has been done on specific aspects of the home, very little has been written on the interaction between the retailer and consumer, and the pressures brought to bear on them by issues such as gender, education, status, symbolism, taste, decoration, hygiene, comfort and entertainment. As such, this book offers a valuable conjunction of retail history and consumption practices, which are examined through a multi-disciplinary approach to explore both their intimate connections and their wider roles in society.
'This book is a well of ideas and information about how furniture has been an essential part of modern ideas of comfort and living, and will make profitable reading for social and cultural students of consumption as well as for economic historians.' European History Review '… this is a book that tries to think through and integrate new approaches to objects, culture and consumption with neglected areas of the history of furniture and furnishings (retailing and the making of 'home'). All those who wish to follow in this relatively uncharted area will find much to interest them here.' Furniture History Society Newsletter '… this is a richly useful book, which brings together otherwise largely disparate topics and students or researchers in a number of fields would be wise to consult it.' Urban History 'This well-written and clearly organized book is a synthetic and descriptive account.' Business History Reviews
Contents: Preface; Introduction; Early developments in furniture retailing and consumption; The rise of the retail tastemaker: 18th century furniture retailing and distribution; From being to well-being: the growing demand for comfort and convenience in the 18th century home; The retail revolution: the response to the demands from the 19th century consumer; Aestheticisation of everyday life: 19th century homes and their importance in society; 20th century retail responses: from mass to niche marketing; Changing visions of the ideal and the real: the consumption of home furnishings in the 20th century; Conclusion; Bibliography; Index.