The Federal look is a unique American subset of neoclassicism, which initially emerged and flourished roughly between 1780 and 1820.
More formal than earlier American Colonial design, and less decorative than the concurrent Georgian aesthetics, Federal pieces often include ancient architectural details such as columns, arches and urns, and offer an atmosphere of refined, yet comfortable, luxury.
Though Federal pieces often drew from European influences, it primarily referenced and interpreted the aesthetics of Ancient Greece and Rome – in many ways a political statement emphasizing the allusion to these ancient archetypal democracies, which would have been apparent during the time surrounding the establishment of the United States when the style first appeared.
Unlike other neoclassical movements, the original Federal style favored curved lines – both in its architecture (the Oval Office at the White House is a prototypical example) and finer details like windows and furniture hardware.
The impression of any Federal room is that of affluence, symmetrical balance and lightness.
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