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Furniture Styles

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Well-chosen furniture will create comfortable, ergonomic and visually pleasing interior spaces that reflect your own personality and style. You will naturally gravitate to a certain style of furniture. Once you have your style, you need to be consistent and stick to it.

Contemporary or modern furniture

Contemporary furniture is characterised by clean geometric lines and shapes. The furniture feels light and timeless. The appeal comes from the piece’s simplicity, from the form itself rather than embellishments or decoration to the piece. Contemporary furniture usually has exposed legs and frames of steel, polished metal or simply formed timber.

Contemporary modern furniture from Beyond Furniture
Contemporary modern furniture from Beyond Furniture

Upholstery and coverings are often leather or textured natural materials. Accessories are often either neutral tones or bold designs with solid colour and strong patterns. Black and white are often present.

Contemporary furniture is usually the choice in urban environments. Not all contemporary furniture is expensive. With searching, it can be one of the cheapest way to furnish a house.

Traditional furniture

Traditional furniture is heavier, more formal and looks much busier. It is often dark-stained, wooden furniture that has both straight and curved lines (and hopefully a classic look). There are always embellishments and carving detail.

Traditional furniture from Berkowitz
Traditional furniture from Berkowitz

Accessories and coverings usually feature soft curved lines with fine, detailed designs often in pretty floral patterns, or plain colours with mid range multi tones. They are rarely textured.

This type of furniture is the choice of more conservative house-holds. It is usually expensive and most often seen in leafy conservative suburban or county environments. It is does not work in urban situations.

Period Furniture

Within the Traditional style, there is a range of very specific styles associated with historical periods such as Jacobean, Queen Anne, Colonial, Georgian, Chippendale, Sheriton and Victorian, Art Deco and Art Nouveau.

Most of this type of furniture is expensive and conservative. The exception is the rarely seen Art Nouveau with its elegant curved lines, and Art Deco which features simple geometric but streamlined shapes, and sleek lines and arcs. Deco’s inspiration was often from primitive or mechanical sources. Art Deco works well in contemporary, urban environments.

Transitional Furniture

Transitional Style furniture is a blend of traditional and contemporary styles, incorporating lines that are less ornate and less decorative than Traditional designs, but not as sleek as Contemporary. As a result, Transitional furniture designs are clean, classic, and sophisticated.

Coverings and upholstery can vary from durable materials to sophisticated, plush fabrics with patterns ranging from textured solids to large pattern prints.

Country Furniture

The basic Country style is usually heavy, chunky wooden furniture either dark stained or painted white. It has the feel of a hand-made work and is sometimes ornate or detailed. Colours of coverings are muted, and accessories have a have a homey look.

While simply styled pieces can look good in rural environments, the country style furniture is out of place in suburban and urban situations.

Cottage Country style furniture (as seen below) is a simpler and cleaner look, with pale, stressed looking coverings and often painted woodwork with less ornate carving.

Traditional furniture from Berkowitz
Cottage country style furniture from EarlySettler.com.au

Mission Style is another simpler and cleaner type. It has no ornamentation or carving detail, and often has flat timber panels that display grain. There is often a lot of attention to detail in its construction. Mission furniture can look modern and very attractive. Then it also works in suburban situations.

Country Specific Furniture

There are many country specific styles, some of which are traditional, others more eclectic. The two most popular are described below. There is also Japanese, Mexican, Spanish and Islamic style.

French Provincial Furniture

Contemporary modern furniture from Cristophe Living
French provincial furniture from Cristophe Living

French provincial is an eclectic style that has French, Italian, Spanish, Moorish and Islamic influences. The furniture can be stained or painted, and often features cabriole legs, simple carving, patterns or patina that reflect nature.

While still conservative, it is more subtle and interesting that Traditional style. It is a great choice for leafy suburban and country situations where nature is visible from rooms.

Scandinavian furniture

This is modern, simply-styled, functional and lightweight furniture that is often very beautiful. It features fine-grained, light coloured natural wood, plain timber panels and painted or lacquered surfaces in a semi gloss.

This furniture was originally created by Danish and Swedish designers and is suitable for both urban, modern suburban and country environments. Ikea is the best known brand.

Unusual/ Eclectic furniture

Contemporary modern furniture from Cristophe Living
Some interesting furniture from Freshome.com

Eclectic furniture is a modern style that works from the wild juxtaposition of different shapes, patterns and colours.

Shabby Chic

Shabby chic furniture combines old, stressed, tattered, and funky materials with new and even elegant designed pieces. Lace and shimmery detail can be used very affectively.

It is an alternative to contemporary furniture for people who want a more individualistic, funky style. Given its “used” style, shabby chic is a cost effective way to furnishing a home.

Contemporary modern furniture from Cristophe Living
Furniture from ShabbyChicFurniture.com.au


Retro style furniture was made (or looks like it was made) during 1950-1980s. It can be whimsical, kitschy, and usually reflects the pop culture of the time.

Fifties furniture is slim lined. Formica-topped tables and chrome bar stools signature pieces. Coverings were boldly coloured or patterned.

Retro works well in both urban and suburban houses that have some retro architectural qualities.

Contemporary modern furniture from Cristophe Living
Furniture from Graham Graham design

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Article written by, Steve Connard.