Did you know that Charles Darwin, the famous evolutionary scientist, invented the office chair? He understood that furniture shouldn’t only look good but it should be functional, too.
Function, price, necessity, and other trends are all factors in how popular furniture styles change over time.
But retro and vintage styles come back in fashion all the time and more and more people are opting for second-hand and preloved home furnishings. So nowadays, there are so many styles of furniture to choose from.
Here are some of the most notable types of furniture styles you can use to decorate your home to create the aesthetic you want.
You could use words like timeless, elegant, classic, and refined to describe traditional furniture. It’s opulent and luxurious but not stuffy and uncomfortable. It’s the kind of residential furniture you might find in a wealthy great aunt’s house or British country home.
And that makes a lot of sense. The inspiration for this furniture style includes 18th-century English and British colonial revival.
Traditional furniture focuses on quality with little touches of detail to make only the best furniture. Dark wood, bronze accents, and craftsmanship are all vital to this furniture style.
Think dark wood cabinets with glass doors and claw foot legs. Think oversized, soft white couches with bun feet. And think four-poster beds with carved posts and upholstered headboards.
Mission/Arts and Crafts/Art Deco Furniture
The 1920s and 1930s might have brought us war and prohibition, but they also brought us one of the most beautiful, opulent furniture styles. Whichever name you want to call it, Art Deco furniture never went out of style.
Arts and Crafts furniture are symmetrical, geometric, and the slightest bit gaudy. Exotic woods, patterns (zebra print, leopard print, etc.), and textures are all key to Art Deco. Think jewel-toned velvet sofas, over-the-top chandeliers, and glass coffee tables.
Mission or Art Deco furniture is glamorous and colorful so it’s easy to go over the top. Find a handful of Art Deco pieces in your local vintage furniture store and blend them in with other, more subdued styles. Mirrors are also key to the Arts and Crafts style so get plenty of those.
Mid-Century Modern Furniture
Thanks to the revival of 1960s fashion and shows like Mad Men, everyone nowadays loves mid-century modern furniture styles. If you’re confused by the word “modern” in that title, modern actually refers to all furniture made from 1900 onward. Mid-century, of course, references the middle of the 20th century.
You can characterize this furniture style as simple and functional with clean lines. Unlike art deco furniture with its frills and details, mid-century modern is more stripped-back.
Most wooden mid-century furniture consists of teak wood, which is why the furniture from this era looks uniform and warm. Think tidy credenzas or sideboards, citrus-colored leather lounge chairs, and wicker side tables. Wicker was huge back then.
Avoid teaming this beautiful furniture with jazzy wallpaper prints. You don’t want your home to look like it should be in a museum dedicated to the 1960s!
This is one of the furniture styles you’d be most likely to see in any good furniture store. Some people call this style Nordic or Scandinavian furniture.
It’s even more functional than mid-century modern furniture. And contemporary furniture relies on a much more neutral color palette than any of the other furniture styles before it. Beige, white, cream, and gray are all staple colors of this style.
Think boxy chairs and sofas, simple wooden beds, and open shelving. You wouldn’t adorn any of your contemporary furniture with too many ornaments or nick-nacks, either. It’s a clutter-free, fuss-free style.
But contemporary furniture also focuses on natural materials over metal and concrete. Leather sofas, wooden tables, wool blankets, and linen soft furnishings are key to this style.
Transitional furniture is a blend of traditional and modern. It’s the type of furniture you might find in your parent’s home because it’s the most inoffensive, unpretentious furniture style of them all.
This furniture style mixes curved and sleek lines. It’s a little less decorative than the traditional style but it still has a slight flourish. For example, think of classic dark wood dining chairs with a plain white cushion and a geometric shape carved into the backrest.
It has a more neutral color palette than traditional furniture. And if there is any pattern in this furniture, it’s in one or two pieces and not everything.
Designers who shun “plain” and “sleek” contemporary design love rustic furniture. It’s nostalgic, simple, and will make you feel like you’re living in a log cabin somewhere in the mountains.
Rustic has a huge emphasis on natural materials, so it’s like contemporary furniture in that regard. Many furniture makers use reclaimed wood and sand off some of the paint to make it look worn even if it’s brand new. Unlike contemporary, there is no such thing as a clean line within the rustic style.
Canvas and leather chairs, stone fireplaces, and natural colors are all mainstays of rustic furniture.
Casual furniture is the wayward younger cousin of transitional furniture. Think Joey and Chandler’s apartment in Friends or Carrie Bradshaw’s apartment in Sex and the City. It’s asymmetrical, simple, and cozy.
Casual couches should be super comfortable in neutral or easy-to-clean colors like navy or brown. Bar stools, clothing rails instead of wardrobes, and lots of coffee tables and end tables are key to casual furniture. It’s livable but not sloppy, has a big personality but isn’t cluttered.
Since casual furniture focuses on comfy textures, glass and metal are out. If you can’t put your coffee cup, feet, or pile of magazines on it, it has no place in the casual furniture aesthetic.
What Are Your Favorite Furniture Styles?
Some of these furniture styles have a similar aesthetic but others could not be more different. You should feel free to stick to one style or blend a few because after all, as long as you’re happy with your furniture style, that’s all that matters!
If you’re a smart homeowner, you would get tons of decor and furniture inspiration before spending money on the right pieces. Lucky for you, our website has tons of decorating ideas for your home!