Over the years of upgrading homes, I’ve created this furniture styles guide. Not understanding the distinctions between styles can be a big problem – it can lead to purchases that clash with your decor or don’t fit your space. This guide will help identify the perfect pieces that complement your interior design.
The Breakdown of Furniture Styles
Contemporary furniture styles focus on clean lines and neutral colors. In contrast, modern furniture uses new materials and bold geometric shapes. Traditional furniture offers elegance with ornate and timeless elements inspired by historical designs.
Top Recommendations on Contemporary, Modern, and Traditional Furniture Styles
Just want my top recommendations based on certain furniture styles rather than reading through this entire guide? Here’s a quick breakdown:
- For a contemporary look, opt for Scandinavian furniture styles with light designs.
- Mid-century modern and retro furniture are great choices using bold, geometric shapes.
- For traditional elegance, consider farmhouse and vintage styles with ornate details.
Furniture Exploration: Different Types of Furniture Styles with Pictures
There are so many furniture styles available online and in stores that it is hard to know what is what. I’m going to explain the terminology of furniture with pictures as examples. Find the style of furniture that matches your lifestyle.
Contemporary Style Furniture
A contemporary furniture style is furniture that is popular here and now. For a minimalist aesthetic, it focuses on clean lines, solid wood, and neutral colors. Contemporary furniture styles offer an incredible range of choices. Each has its own features, benefits, and disadvantages.
|Coastal||Natural materials, light colors||Relaxed, airy look||Not as durable|
|Scandinavian||Simple lines, light woods||Clean, minimalist look||Less comfort|
|Shabby chic||Distressed paints, vintage fabrics||Romantic, cozy feel||Messy, worn look|
|Transitional||Blends traditional and modern||Balanced, versatile||Less distinctive|
1. Coastal Furniture Style
The coastal style gets its inspiration from the ocean or the sea. It radiates a holiday or vacation ambiance because of cool nautical colors. Furniture with this style often uses reclaimed wood and light-colored fabrics.
Scandinavian contemporary design gained popularity because of its simplicity and functionality. Furniture pieces use natural wood with clutter-free and neutral tones. Like this upholstered platform bed, Scandinavian contemporary gives off a clutter-free look.
3. Shabby Chic Furniture Style
Compared to the Scandinavian furniture style the shabby chic style has earthier roots. It originated in elegant homes in the French countryside. The style involves more up-cycling of furniture showing signs of daily use over a very long time. It has a feminine feel yet lacks the smoothness of the provincial style.
4. Transitional Furniture Style
The transitional style combines traditional and contemporary furniture styles. Like this upholstered chaise lounge, the style likes straight lines and simple colors. It can also feature fabric patterns, mirror surfaces, and lacquered finishes. If you’re looking for furniture for a tiny home, transitional is a good style because it doesn’t have a “busy” design.
Modern Furniture Style
Sleek and stylish, modern furniture styles combine many elements. Materials like leather, vinyl, or natural wood are used in creating an elegant design. Originals from the Modernist period have become highly collectible, rare, and expensive antiques. The modern design is a broad range, featuring sub-categories with different features.
|Mid-century modern||Clean lines, geometric shapes||Sleek, retro feel||Less comfort|
|Retro||Bright colors, geometric patterns||Fun, nostalgic||Can look kitschy|
|Minimalist||Sparse, open designs||Clean, simple||Impersonal|
|Casual Luxe||Opulent and relaxed||Inviting, luxurious||More upkeep|
|Relaxed modern||Softens sharp edges||Cozy, inviting||Less bold|
|Art deco||Ornate geometric motifs||Glamorous, luxurious||Overly extravagant|
5. Mid-Century Modern Style
Mid-century modern designs originated with contrasting textures and dark wood tones. Furniture with this style features subtle curves, splayed legs, and handpainted elements. Some could have minimal to no accent details.
6. Retro Furniture Style
Retro reminds me of the “goldies” from the “oldies” my grandmother might have chosen for her house in the 1950s. It comes in modular, geometric shapes, either spray painted or coated in pastel colors. The style creates an emotional connection like this retro dining table and chair set. If you don’t want to furnish an entire room in this style, you could add a statement piece to your foyer for a unique look.
7. Minimalist Furniture Style
A minimalist style has a distinct utilitarian design, often with rounder shapes. This is among my go-to styles when I want to avoid intricate carvings and details. The style’s neutral colors and subtle details are ideal for open spaces.
8. Casual Luxe Furniture Style
This style has a refined rustic look combining neutral colors and distinctive silhouettes. As you can see in this luxe dining set, this style often conveys a luxurious yet casual appearance. Furniture with this style is generally scaled and spacious for a cozy feel.
9. Relaxed Modern Furniture Style
Relaxed modern furniture styles have sleek silhouettes and plush furnishing. When my clients want a glorious yet comfortable ambiance, I use furniture with this style. Details would include elements like champagne brass or oak finishes.
10. Art Deco Furniture Style
The Art Deco style offers an attitude of glamour, luxury, modernity, and faith in progress. Like this art deco lounge chair, the design combines the old and the new. In this case, Victorian Era fine craftsmanship with modern materials. Art Deco furniture emphasizes geometric silhouettes and a variety of materials.
Traditional Furniture Style
Traditional styles first became popular in the reign of England’s Queen Victoria. Drawing inspiration from classical furniture styles, it has elegant fabrics and hand-crafted woods. Under the general heading of traditional furniture styles, modern shoppers can find:
|Farmhouse||Distressed wood, simple lines||Rustic, welcoming feel||Less refined look|
|Vintage||Not new, 20-100 years old||Unique, cost-effective||Wear and tear, flaws|
|Industrial||Metal, reclaimed wood, exposed hardware||Urban, edgy look||Not for all spaces|
|Antique||Over 100 years old||Valuable, collectible||Expensive, high maintenance|
|Mission||Simple geometric designs, stained wood||Clean, utilitarian design||Plain, austere|
|Victorian||Ornate shapes, opulent fabrics||Elegant, romantic||Overly extravagant|
|William and Mary||Turned legs, simple lines||Understated elegance||Lacks ornamentation|
|Chippendale||Intricate carvings, cabriole legs||Grand, opulent||High maintenance|
|Queen Anne||Curved lines, elaborate carvings||Intricate, refined||Fussy for some interiors|
|Jacobean||Architectural shapes, embellished surfaces||Masculine, substantial||Heavy, bulky|
|Pennsylvania Dutch||Bright paints, geometric motifs||Whimsical, colorful||Folksy aesthetic|
|Loius XVI||Elaborate carvings, curved legs||Refined, majestic||Over-the-top opulence|
|Hepplewhite||Graceful tapered legs, oval backs||Airy, delicate||Less durable|
|Rustic||Raw wood, unfinished look||Organic, outdoorsy||Rougher texture|
|Sheraton||Slender tapered legs, inlays||Graceful, delicate||Less durable|
|Federal||Inlaid lines, slender legs||Balanced and patriotic details||Sparse ornamentation|
|American Empire||Classical motifs and symmetrical lines||Majestic, patriotic||Heavy, dark|
|Country||Unfinished wood, simple lines||Casual, rustic||Ragged imperfections|
|French Provincial||Scalloped details, distressed finish||Charming, romantic||Feminine style|
|Craftsman||Exposed joinery, built-in benches||Handmade quality||Rustic look|
|Shaker||Simple, functional pieces||Clean, enduring||Plain, sparse|
|Colonial||Turned spindles, carved crest rails||Traditional, patriotic||Formal, stuffy|
|Arts and Craft||Handcrafted, exposed joinery||Rustic, handmade quality||Imperfections|
|Asian||Lacquered surfaces, bamboo accents||Exotic cultural flair||Specific aesthetic|
11. Farmhouse Furniture Style
Imagine being in a country homestead with a modern flair — that’s what I love about the farmhouse style. This style flourished after the Industrial Revolution. It often uses distressed wood, natural colors, wrought iron, and solid wood furniture. The organic look is perfect for interiors aiming for comfort and practicality.
12. Vintage Furniture Style
Vintage furniture is at least second- or maybe even third- or fourth-hand. It is used furniture that could have been used in the lifetime of someone you know. Vintage furniture could have contrasting veneers, upcycled materials, and neutral colors. You can find vintage furniture online or in thrift stores.
13. Industrial Style Furniture
Drawing inspiration from the Industrial Revolution, an industrial style has minimalistic pieces. It can use leather upholstery, metals, and natural and salvaged woods to create a rugged look. Think of factory-looking items with unique textures and shapes. This iron accent cabinet with black distressing embodies the style.
14. Antique Furniture Style
Genuine antique furniture is at least 100 years old. It reflects the materials of their times, mostly wood. Their rarity and collectibility, determine the value of antique furniture. Most budgets restrict the purchases of antique furniture. Something like this antique Italian Armoire dresser can cost thousands of dollars.
15. Mission Style Furniture
The Mission style comes from the 19th century. It features straight lines in 90 degrees, rectangles, and spindles. My only problem with this simple and sturdy style is that most pieces are also typically bulky. Still, it makes excellent accent pieces because of the flat paneling and finishes.
16. Victorian Furniture Style
Victorian furniture is named after Queen Victoria. The design uses heavy proportions, elaborate ornamentation, and dark finishes. Victorian furniture pieces often use rosewood, mahogany, walnut, leather, or velvet. This is one of the best styles to use if you want bulky yet elegant pieces.
17. William and Mary Style Furniture
William and Mary style furniture was popular around the late 17th to early 18th century. It is heavily influenced by Dutch, Chinese, and Spanish work. It’s notable for straight lines, woodturning, elaborate carvings, and Oriental lacquer work. They also tend to be heavy-looking and short.
18. Chippendale Furniture Style
The Chippendale style originated with cabinet-maker Thomas Chippendale. It features cabriole legs, ball and claw feet, and pediment scrolls on top of furniture. The style is influenced by French, Chinese, and Gothic designs. The use of mahogany and ornate silk upholstery, made it popular between 1750 and 1790.
19. Queen Anne Style Furniture
Queen Anne-style furniture is famous for its bat wing-shaped drawer designs. It also has fiddle-backed chairs, cabriole legs and pad or drake feet. The style can be seen in this Queen Anne curio cabinet. It blends elements from the Chippendale and William and Mary styles, but is more graceful.
20. Jacobean Style Furniture
This style is born out of the English Early Renaissance in the 1600s.
The Jacobean style has straight lines, ornate carvings, dark finish, and marine motifs. It is one of my favorite styles because of its scrollwork, thick columns, and arches. But, furniture placement is quite tricky because of the massive sizes.
21. Pennsylvania Dutch Furniture Style
Pennsylvania Dutch combines American and Germanic influences. It features fruitwood, maple, walnut, or pine wood as the frame. It’s rather simple with a utilitarian design. Colorful paintings make the pieces stand out. For example, this Pennsylvania Dutch dowry chest would make a great collector’s item.
22. Louis XVI Furniture Style
Louis XVI furniture was designed for Marie Antoinette during the French Revolution. The style draws inspiration from Greco-Roman and Neo-classical furniture styles. Straight lines, rich carvings, and classical motifs like fluting characterize it. I typically use this style if I need painted or gilded flowers as ornamentation.
23. Hepplewhite Furniture Style
The Hepplewhite style also has Neo-classical furniture styles. It features tapered legs, contrasting veneers, and inlay for a delicate appearance. The style complements interiors that call for slender and curvilinear pieces. Light yet elegant design for a well-balanced layout.
24. Rustic Furniture Style
Rustic furniture style is much less formal. It seeks to capture a warm, homey feeling using animal hides or raw timbers. Warm colors predominate over dark colors, and finishes may or may not be smooth. One of my favorite rustic furniture examples is a barn door console cabinet. The simple lines work fine as design without ornamentation.
25. Sheraton Furniture Style
Named after English designer George Sheraton, the Sheraton style radiates simplicity. It has elegant yet straight lines, geometric figures, contrasting veneers, and tapered legs. The Sheraton style can be used instead of the late Georgian styles if you want a more feminine touch. Pieces could use drapery swags, ribbons, and flowers as decorations.
26. Federal Furniture Style
Combine the Hepplewhite and Sheraton styles, and you’ll get the Federal design. It is mostly crafted using cherry and mahogany wood. This style is heavily influenced by French and Neo-classical motifs. It often features straight lines, contrasting veneers, and sharp geometric inlays. The hutch and chest of drawers display the style of this Federal-style secretary desk.
27. American Empire Furniture Style
The American Empire style overlaps with French- and Federal-inspired solid wood furniture. But it’s best known for its symmetrical lines, brass details, and raised panels. The style also has contrasting veneers and ornate carving, especially on the feet. Most pieces are crafted from dark, rich woods such as walnut and mahogany.
28. Country Furniture Style
Country style may depend on the geographic location. Vintage fabrics, solid wood, muted colors, and primitive designs mainly characterize it. The style evokes a cozy, warm, and inviting look, giving you a taste of rural life. Most pieces are minimally decorated because it prioritizes functionality.
29. French Provincial Furniture Style
The French provincial style originated in the cities of Blois and Orléans in the Loire Valley and at Lyon or Liège. The design was popular with the wealthy in the French provinces in the 1600s and 1700s. French Provincial pieces include oversized armoires and sideboards with decorative, scalloped carving.
30. Craftsman Style Furniture
Function over form is the idea behind the Craftsman style. The style is on display in this solid oak buffet cabinet for your dining room. Furniture pieces have simple lines, solid wood, and minimal ornamentation. Pieces guarantee a robust construction radiating a handcrafted look. Woodworking techniques are evident in drawer pulls, inset paneling, and parallel slates.
31. Shaker Furniture Style
A religious sect favoring simplicity and utility created its own craft furniture design. The religious group Shaking Quakers‘ furniture design is practical and minimalist. It uses tapered feet and unadorned lines with excellent craftsmanship.
32. Colonial Furniture Style
The Colonial style combines Queen Anne and Georgian furniture styles. It focuses on pieces of furniture with grace and purpose. This eight-person dining table exemplifies the style. The idea was to make pieces for practical purposes, often using materials. Nowadays, it includes ornate carvings and lighter frames.
33. Arts and Craft Style Furniture
Arts and Craft furniture styles have simple and utilitarian designs with minimal ornamentation. It was popularized during the Arts and Crafts Movement. Each piece boasts rectilinear lines and elongated forms. Using Arts and Craft design is a good way to avoid the cluttered designs of Victorian furniture.
34. Asian Style Furniture Style
True to its name, Asian furniture incorporates designs from the continent. Especially Chinese, Japanese, and Tibetan pieces with exotic wood. It could have Imperial Chinese-inspired pieces that will remind you of dynasties. The Japanese furniture features bold, colorful designs. There could also be handpainted details from Tibetan furniture.
Frequently Asked Questions
What Are the Different Furniture Styles?
The main categories of furniture styles include traditional, contemporary, and modern. Each has distinct features like materials, shapes, and finishes that set them apart.
What Furniture Styles Are Popular Right Now?
Mid-century modern, industrial, and Scandinavian contemporary styles are very popular furniture trends. People gravitate toward sleeker, more minimalist furniture. Styles mix wood, metal, and other natural materials in muted, neutral palettes.
What Is Traditional Furniture Style?
The traditional style features furniture pieces with elegant, formal looks. It draws inspiration from European historical designs. The style favors carved wood details, custom upholstery, and curved lines. It also has ornate accents like turned legs, carved trim, and inlaid surfaces.
You should now have a solid understanding of traditional, modern, and contemporary styles. By knowing the different furniture styles, you can avoid mismatches. This will ensure you furnish your home with style and unity.