Feel like everyone but you knows how to talk furniture styles? Now you can, too. Learn the characteristics, a little of the history and view some gorgeous examples of all the top styles in this quick, colorful and informative Furniture Styles Guide. The most popular furniture styles simplified, defined and explained. Even an interior design expert might learn a thing or two. And when you’ve identified your favorite styles, jump over to our Shop by Style page to begin your shopping experience!
The Most Popular Furniture Styles
Today we’re highlighting the characteristics of the most common furniture styles. It may be impossible to create a comprehensive list of every furniture style, but on this page, we’ll share features of the most common solid wood furniture styles. There may be some overlap between furniture styles, with furniture that could belong to a few at once. For example, many Colonial American pieces could be called Formal as well, and there’s overlap between Rustic and Industrial. No matter what your budget or where you shop, we hope we can help with this guide to furniture styles. Let’s get started.
Mid-century Modern Furniture
Mid-century modern furniture offers simple, pared-down designs with clean lines. It developed during the 1940s, reflecting the needs of postwar America that saw a movement towards smaller homes that could keep up with busy lifestyles. The appearance is understated with some sleek curves and bold geometrics. Mid Century Modern offers an uncluttered look and provides functional forms with no excess. It’s simple with a little spunk.
Rustic style, in contrast with the rest of this furniture styles guide, refers more to the furniture finish than to the design. But all rustic furniture utilizes natural elements of wood. Surfaces are often textured, or rough, and reclaimed wood may be used. Rustic furniture brings the beauty of the outdoors in, for a warm and inviting look.
Contemporary furniture is constantly adapting to reflect present-day design trends—which can make it difficult to define. It does share some elements of modernism and minimalism, so contemporary reflects a less is more philosophy. Clean and simple lines with some gentle curves and neutral colors are contemporary chic today.
Mission Style Furniture
Mission style furniture began back in 1894 when AJ Forbes made a solid wood chair for a church in San Francisco that featured simple, straight line construction. Joseph McHugh, a New York furniture maker, would later develop it during the Arts and Crafts movement. Mission furniture keeps it simple with little decoration. It highlights straight lines and flat panels that showcase the grain of the wood. This style is built to be durable and used every day. Mission often features straight legs and vertical wooden slats.
A large group of English Quakers would come to be called the shakers due to their distinct movements during worship. Shaker communities strove for perfection, focusing on hard work and self–sufficiency. Likewise, Shaker style furniture is simple with no frills. It offers a strong form and a focus on function. Identify shaker furniture by its tapered legs, horizontal slats, and gentle curves. Mortise and tenon joinery and dovetailed drawers are a given, contributing to fully functioning furniture. Highly durable without a bulky appearance.
During the Industrial Revolution, American factory workers found value in rugged, durable equipment. Industrial style furniture emulates that concept with worn, unfinished design. It features strong, clean lines with no excess. Wrought iron accents combine with rough wood to make a statement. Part of the beauty of Industrial style is that it’s fond of repurposed materials, making the old new again.
Country Farmhouse Furniture
Country Farmhouse style exudes warmth with a homey, relaxed look and feel. It has a rural farmhouse design that’s simple and built to be supportive, hardworking and comfortable. Country style grew from the farmer’s lifestyle and is made to be strong, simple and modest.
Colonial American Furniture
Colonial American style is a broad term that includes more specific styles, such as:
- Early American style
- Jacobean style
- William and Mary style
- Queen Anne style
- Chippendale style
These styles were popular throughout the years 1620 to 1780. Together, they may be identified by cabriole legs, elaborate carvings, or the ball and claw foot. This style ranges from casual to formal, large and solid to slender and graceful. But ornate carvings and designs tie them all together.
French Country Furniture
During the 1600s, King Louis the 14th of France renovated the Palace of Versailles to create a home of luxury. The new interior of the palace was imitated and developed into French country style, which combines rustic with elegant, simple with fancy, and old with new. Ornate is ok for French country furniture, as well as the weathered and worn. French country is sophisticated yet relaxed—and not everything has to match. It loves to look lived in.
Formal style furniture is dressed up. It creates a sense of occasion. The style combines luxury and order with delicate features, curves, and carvings. Formal style is balanced and elegant. There’s a good chance you’ll see the Queen Anne cabriole legs and other ornate carvings in some formal furniture.
Transitional style furniture blends traditional with contemporary. It exudes elegance with the smooth, understated outlines of the contemporary. Transitional furniture is always in style, offering a classic look with a current twist.
Live Edge Furniture
Live edge furniture draws its character from nature. This style grew out of the Arts and Crafts movement of the early 1900s that valued traditional craftsmanship and natural
beauty. Live edge employs the natural tree trunk after the bark is removed. With a unique character, live edge style often includes knots and holes. It radiates warmth with one-of-a-kind raw beauty that only the natural world can provide.
Furniture Styles Guide Summary
There you have it—an overview of all the biggest wood furniture styles, from the largest vendor of Amish furniture online—DutchCrafters. Whether you’re drawn to the simplicity of Shaker or Mid-Century Modern or the elegance of Formal or French Country, you now know the characteristics to talk about furniture styles. Feel free to shop these styles online at dutchcrafters.com or call us to speak to one of our furniture specialists. But wherever you end up in your furniture search, we hope we helped you settle on the right furniture for your home. From all of us at DutchCrafters, thanks for watching.