What are Corbels?

It is sometimes the simple act of adding a few well-placed details to create a whole new kitchen. Corbels are an easy way to update the kitchen and add a little more life and style to the room.

These architectural structures are 90° brackets used as decorative or supportive pieces for cabinets, under counters, shelves, mantels, stoves, and island bars. Crafted from many materials – wood, stone, plaster, metal, and resin – they can be very ornate and detailed or simple and clean.

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A Bit of History

Corbels have been around for centuries in the architectural world. Cut into or from stone, these mighty structures have held up many heavy items, such shelves, roofs, and walls, over the years. Based on their beak-like shape, the name “corbel” was derived from the Old French Latin-based word “corvellus,” meaning raven.

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Originally constructed from stone or concrete, corbels were either carved within the stone wall itself as a solid piece or formed as a separate piece and later attached. During the Victorian Era, new wooden concepts of the corbel were introduced, allowing the trend to disperse into other buildings: libraries, cathedrals, smaller community buildings, and eventually homes.

As these circulated through the Victorian society the utilization of the corbels shifted. Increasing in popularity, the wood corbels were utilized in a more artistic light rather than a functional and structural component. For stone and concrete, the focus was on the structural and functional aspect of the corbel before designed with carvings. With the new concept of wood, the decorative design of the corbel was the main focus, followed up by the assigned use of being a decoration or a support structure. This change in focus for corbels has continued on through the years and still remains as the primary focus for architecture today.

Continue to read Corbels: An Introduction Part 2.