There are a lot of furniture styles on the market, and sometimes the terms used to describe them becomes confusing. You need to familiarize yourself to know what type of furniture you are looking for in your home, especially if you want to pull off a specific interior design style. Here is some information on the characteristics of the major furniture styles to help you out:
If you’re an old soul and the old century styles really appeal to you, that household items that would probably make you most happy inside are antique pieces. Genuine antiques are at least a hundred years old, and it is often sold by experienced dealers who can (and should be able to) give you a full history of a piece you want to buy, like its age approximation, where the furniture has been, or who used to own it. They are often made of wood and has unique, ornate details that allow dealers to determine their age.
When buying antiques, you will surely pay more, but owning these items brings you a valuable investment. A lot of antique pieces have imperfections, but sometimes these makes them more valuable, rarer and makes them perfect for restoration.
“Vintage” and “antique” are often used interchangeably, but vintage is actually younger than antiques. Vintage furniture is between thirty and a hundred years old. But it’s not just old – it exhibits a particular detail associated with a certain style or era. For furniture to be considered vintage, it must exemplify the how defined a style is on the period it was created.
The common vintage styles that you can find are mid-century and retro pieces. Newer vintage items, like those made and designed from the 1950s to 1980s, are considered retro furniture, and any piece that dates from the 80s are considered used furniture. Buying vintage is like buying second-hand furniture, but it’s a healthier option for the environment and for your budget. You can buy vintage pieces from online stores, auctions, estate sales, and edgy retail stores.
Traditional furniture is a formal type of furniture made from the Victorian period. It combines the best and most defining features of the Queen Anne period (graceful and elaborate – cabriole legs, fiddle-backed chairs, drawer pulls shaped like bat wings), Chippendale style (artistic and straightened out; has Gothic, French and Chinese influences – sleeker chairs, ball and claw feet, cabriole legs, broken pediment scroll top on tall cases), and Sheraton style (Neoclassical style – delicate pieces with tapered legs, contrasting veneers and inlays). Together, these styles make traditional furniture warm and comfortable.
Traditional pieces are regal and elegant-looking and were made of quality materials that are meant to last for generations. Besides the defining elements stated earlier, these pieces were usually made from carved, thick, dark wood; uses solid brass and materials like bone and ivory; are covered with sophisticated, patterned fabrics; or are overstuffed and plush.
Raw and relaxed – that’s what rustic furniture looks like. They are more casual than formal and creates a worn-out yet timeless look to any interior. Rustic furniture is often made of warm timber and employs logs, twigs, and branches for a natural look. It appears simple and sometimes blocky. Its surfaces are typically rough (or looks rough) and can appear distressed or weathered.
Rustic is a basic design for furniture that is unpretentious and natural. This style originated during an era way back before the existence of antiques, when mass production and fine artistry doesn’t even exist. Yet, rustic looks are very popular today – Scandinavian and industrial interior styles make use of rustic elements to its décor.
5. Art Deco
Art Deco furniture originated in Europe after World War I, but it was most flourishing during the 1920s to 1940s. It’s a striking design period that signifies the dawn of the new era and captivates a particular historical period wherein a lot of changes are happening. Compared to the furniture styles discussed earlier, art deco makes use of vivid colors and playful motifs to reflect the optimistic attitudes of the post-war society. Geometric shapes and patterns replaced the scrolls and curves of the traditional style, paying homage to the industrialization era. It also embraces more feminine forms and colors, to celebrate freedom and liberation of women.
If you want to adopt the art deco style using the right furniture, look for stylish and impactful pieces. Pick mirrored cabinetry, items made of exotic wood, high-gloss lacquer surfaces, wood inlays, tables embellished with marquetry, metallic accents and finishes, and upholstered chairs in leather covers.
Retro furniture is a bit harder to define and categorize. Usually, when we think of retro, we think of avocado green couches, geometric shapes in bright yellow, and orange splashbacks. A lot of people use the term “retro” interchangeably with vintage or art deco since some vintage and art deco items can be classified as retro too (and vice versa). When we talk about retro furniture, it can be anything that pays homage to the popular styles of the 1950s to 1980s. These are authentic pieces that were produced in these decades that evokes feelings of nostalgia.
There are no specifics to retro style, but it can be whimsical, psychedelic, funky and even tacky. It brings back a sense of pop culture in the past decades. It’s anything but classic. It’s a diverse umbrella style that covers bold and brights, as well as patterns like geometrics to florals.
7. French Provincial
French provincial furniture is very literal – its aesthetic is inspired by the styles common in the French provinces during the 17th and 18th century. It creates a balance between the classical ornate and elegant French styles; and the casual and laid-back styles of French country homes. It was neither elaborate nor simple – it’s a combination of creativity and practicality.
One distinguishing factor to determine if furniture is French provincial is to see if it’s made of timber that is native to the French countryside, such as walnut, oak, cherry, elm, apple, beech and the like. The items are typically stained or painted in white; or painted and distressed in muted gray, deep red, taupe, duck egg blue or other pastel colors. Drawers and cabinetry feature ornate moldings and glass or brass handles. Upholstery usually has soft damask or floral patterns. Cabriole legs and fleur-de-lis are also often found in this style of furniture.
Modern furniture is a broad category of furniture styles that were produced from the late 19th century onwards, with the influence of the Modernist movement. When the first modern furniture was released, it became a shock to a lot of furniture enthusiasts because it was dramatically different from the heavy, dark-wood and ornately carved furniture they were used to.
Modern items are pieces we are used to seeing – streamlined, angular and simplistic. Besides traditional materials, modern pieces can be made of plastic, steel, glass, and molded plywood. Some shapes and forms were non-traditional and dramatically different from the typical. They are usually colored in neutrals like black, white, and brown; and sometimes, red.
Contemporary style furniture is a bit difficult to define and characterize, but if its designed and manufactured during the late 20th century until today, it is considered contemporary. This term is often used interchangeably with “modern,” although the contemporary style has a lot in common with the modern style.
Contemporary is the current, latest trend in furniture today. It’s simple, uncomplicated and fresh. Furniture pieces are typically light and airy and are made of various materials that modern furniture are made of. But unlike modern style, contemporary furniture is not always sleek, straight and boxy – most still are – but it pays more attention to comfort and warmth. It can be quite eclectic since it borrows bits and pieces from a variety of past styles and eras to make a unique style. Like modern styles, you can find contemporary furniture in neutrals, but you can also find them in soft pastels and some bold and bright colors that look youthful and trendy as of the moment.