What is a corbel? Basically, it is nothing more than a piece of architecture. Usually, it is a piece of masonry that sticks out of the wall. Believe it or not, corbels have been used for thousands of years by builders for a variety of reasons. In fact, archaeologists have found evidence that the Romans and the Greeks used corbels when constructing buildings.
During the Middle Ages, corbels were actually created to help fortify the castles and to provide an extra layer of defense for the castle occupants. Mostly, corbels held a table which could be lifted and used to drop hot liquids onto the people attacking the castle.
Over the years, the corbel has become less functional and more decorative. Today, the architectural feature is used to liven up new construction or used when renovating older structures. Perhaps you have never actually seen a corbel used and are wondering where and how modern day builders use this feature.
You may even be thinking abut incorporating such features when re-decorating or building your dream home. Here are some places where corbels are used today.
- They are utilized in fireplaces. To be more specific, they are most commonly used in fireplace mantles. Corbels can be rustic or they can be ornately carved. Of course, it just depends on the homeowner's taste as well as the style of the decor in the home. When used like this, the piece is most likely used for decoration.
- Under counter tops. Believe it or not, this architectural piece is commonly used to support heavy counter tops and provide a bit of structural integrity. This is especially true today where granite and other heavy materials are used to create kitchen counter tops. In such cases, corbels are primarily functional instead of decorative.
- They provide support for curtain rods and valances. When used in such a way, corbels are both decorative and functional. They can be used to hang the curtain rods for the curtains, or they can be used to support the valance rods. In either case, there are a number of ways to incorporate this attractive architectural piece into your window design if you wish to do so.
- Corbels are used to support cabinets. In this regard, they once again are primarily functional and go behind the cabinets to help attach them to the wall. The pieces can be especially helpful if you will be filling the cabinet with heavy materials.
- They can be used in the eaves of the roof. In this regard, corbels can be decorative and add visual interest to the roof. This is especially true if the house is in a traditional style or if the roofing is made from heavy materials like tin, wood, or terra cotta. In this instance, the structural pieces may be made from wood or from other materials.
- Corbels can be used on exposed ceilings or rafters. This decorative feature can be used to add architectural interest to the ceiling of a home or for extra support, if the home is quite old. In the majority of cases, they will probably be made from timber or wood.
Of course, these are just a few examples of the many ways that these architectural pieces can be used in your home. Your builder or interior designer can give you more examples as well as ideas for tastefully using corbels in your home.