A complete guide to Furniture Styles

This blog post is here to help you put a name to the different furniture styles, especially your favorites.

Furniture style types

This let’s call it u guide on types of furniture styles includes two lists of furniture styles, encompassing modern, contemporary, and traditional furniture styles.

First, we’ll look at historical furniture styles dating back hundreds of years, influenced by classical furniture styles that are even older. These traditional furniture styles build the foundation for our second furniture styles list, which includes many of the more contemporary furniture styles we see today.

Examples of timeless and traditional furniture style

From the Jacobean era of the 1600s through the Scandinavian contemporary design of the 1900s furniture has been a mark of wealth and luxury. Here’s an overview of historical furniture styles with their key characteristics many of which were influenced by classical furniture styles.

Jacobean (1600–1690): The Jacobean style was borne out of the English Early Renaissance. Jacobean furniture is characterized by ornate carvings, straight lines, and a dark finish.

William and Mary (1690–1735): William and Mary style furniture was popular in the late 17th and early 18th century and is characterized by Chinese and Dutch influences, trumpet-turned legs, Spanish ball feet, and Oriental lacquer work, Spanish ball feet.

Queen Anne (1700–1755): Queen Anne-style furniture emerged during the reign of William III of England. It is characterized by cabriole legs, bat-wing-shaped drawer pulls, fiddle-backed chairs, pad or drake feet.

Pennsylvania Dutch (1720–1830): Pennsylvania Dutch is an American furniture style with Germanic influences. It is characterized by colorful folk painting on cases and utilitarian simplicity.

Louis XVI (1760–1789): This style was designed for Marie Antionette during the French Revolution and was influenced by Neoclassical design. Louis XVI furniture is characterized by Greco-Roman influence, straight lines, richly carved details. and classical motifs like fluting.

Chippendale (1750–1790): Created by a cabinetmaker in London named Thomas Chippendale. It can be classified into French, Gothic, the Queen Anne style, and Chinese influences. Chippendale furniture is characterized by ball and claw feet, cabriole legs, and broken pediment scroll top on tall cases.

Hepplewhite (1765-1800): Hepplewhite furniture is named after London designer George Hepplewhite and was popular in the early United States. Hepplewhite furniture is characterized by its Neoclassical influence, tapered legs, delicate appearance, and contrasting veneers and inlay.

Sheraton (1780–1820): The Sheraton style is named after English designer George Sheraton, whose work overlaps with Hepplewhite. Sheraton furniture is characterized by straight lines, and almost severe simplicity, contrasting veneers, sometimes tapered legs and contrasting veneers

Federal (1780–1820): Federal furniture is a combination of the Hepplewhite and Sheraton styles. It is known for its gracefully straight lines, contrasting veneers, neoclassical motifs, and ornamentation.

American Empire (1800–1840): This is a French-inspired furniture style that was popular in the US during the late 19th century. It is known for classical ornamentation, course carvings, and dark finish.

Victorian (1840–1910): Named after Queen Victoria, this was the furniture style of the English Victorian period. Victorian furniture was the first style to be manufactured, created during the industrial revolution. Victorian furniture is characterized by heavy proportions, a dark finish, a romantic influence, and elaborate ornamentation.

Arts and Craft (1880–1910): Influenced by the ideas of artist William Morris, Arts and Craft were the style of the Arts and Craft movement, which sought to recapture the craftsmanship found in pre-industrial guilds. Arts and Craft furniture is characterized by a simple, utilitarian design.

Art Deco (1910–1939): Unlike the Arts and Craft style, Art Deco furniture celebrated design excess. Originating in France shortly before WWI, Art Deco furniture is characterized by vibrant, bold colors, geometric shapes, exotic wood or ivory inlays, shiny metal surfaces, and geometric shapes with sweeping, angular lines.

Scandinavian Contemporary (1930–1950): Named from the group of European countries from which it originated; Scandinavian Contemporary design was popular in the early 20th century. It is characterized by its three tenets of functionality, simplicity, minimalism incorporating a utilitarian design made with natural wood.

Modern Furniture Style

Today’s styles are very different. Over the centuries, furniture fashion has deviated from classic, ornate looks to contemporary furniture styles that blur the lines between functionality and artistry.

Today’s furniture is described as “contemporary” or “modern” even though they are considered as two different design styles.

A list of a few current furniture design types includes:

American Colonial: While one could say colonial furniture is a form of traditional furniture, it encompasses a wider variety of styles from the British Colonial period.

Vintage: Younger than antique furniture, vintage furniture is usually between 50 and 100 years old and is often purchased used.

Traditional: Combining the best of Queen Anne, Chippendale, and Sheraton styles, traditional furniture typically features graceful ornamentation, straightened lines, and tapered legs.

Rustic: Rustic furniture brings warmth and coziness home. This style is typically made with timber or other natural materials, including hide, cotton, and linen.

Antique: If you like any of the styles we just described, you might like antique furniture. At least a century old, antique furniture is typically made from wood and has unique, ornate details that allow dealers to easily date them.

Retro: While specific pieces that are considered “retro” often depend on the decade referenced, retro furniture is characterized as having more modern designs that imitate past fashion trends. Retro design can incorporate pop culture in a way that makes for colorful, even whimsical furniture pieces.

American Design: American styles of furniture have a few things in common: solid wood furniture with distinctive grains and stunning finishes are future heirlooms; stone, live-edge metal, and leather blend rich and rustic.

Minimalism:  Minimalist furniture combines traits from Scandinavian Contemporary, Modern, and Arts and Craft furniture, resulting in a simple utilitarian style with round shapes and smooth edges. If you believe, “less is more,” then you are some of the few minimalists left on this earth.

Relaxed Modern: This look has a minimalist aesthetic and a relaxed, sophisticated vibe. Sleek silhouettes pair with deep plush seating; metals like champagne brass and brushed nickel pair with oak finishes.

Modern: Modern style came out of the early 1900s modernist movement. It’s best known for its use of monochromatic color palettes and materials like vinyl, leather, steel, and plastic.

Urban Collective: This look is fresh, livable take on boho-chic, industrial and mid-century modern designs. Weathered finishes, reclaimed wood, and metal mix with slim silhouettes and custom upholstery. The result — layers of texture and loads of style.

Contemporary: Contemporary style furniture refers to furniture that is popular today.

Shabby Chic:  Originating from 1980s England, shabby chic combines worn, vintage furniture with an interesting brush and paint effects (usually in white). This style of furniture often combines neutral colors with rustic effects to create a vintage vibe.

Casual Luxe: This Bassett refined rustic look mixes rustic finishes and familiar country forms with sophisticated styles and neutral color palettes. Generously scaled, distinctive silhouettes convey a luxurious yet casual and approachable feel.

Now that you know what is what you can surround yourself with even more of the design you love.