If you have ever watched a home makeover show on TV or read about updating a room in your own home, you have probably heard of furniture styles like antique, modern, rustic, English, French, Italian and the like. But what do these styles really mean? How can you tell which is which?
Let’s take a look at several common furniture styles and see if we can unravel the mysteries just a bit.
The three main styles of American furniture are antique, modern, and rustic. Each has its own unique characteristics that appeal to people with a wide range of tastes.
Antique – This style is heavily influenced by European furniture styles, as it dates back to the early American colonial days and the period of time between the Revolutionary War and the Civil War. American antique furniture typically has a very practical design because it was made to be used, not displayed. There are of course some elements of fancy detail, but these are secondary to the sensible design focus of the furniture.
• Modern – This style is characterized by clean lines, modern materials, and a sense of wanting something Modern-American-furniture different from the traditional furniture of the pre-World War II era. Pieces were designed to be both convenient and stylish, often using materials like plastic, vinyl, and chrome. Modern furniture has a sleek look to it that is in sharp contrast to the sturdy styles more common prior to the 1940’s and 1950’s.
• Rustic – This style is characterized by the use of natural materials, hand crafted pieces, and cultural/regional influences. Pieces are generally made of whatever materials are abundant in the region where they originate, and often include details like carvings and paintings. The rustic style tends to be coarser than other styles and reflects a very casual, comfortable feel.
European furniture styles can trace their roots back several centuries and often reflect the melding of influences from several different countries or regions. The most common styles of European furniture are English, French and Italian.
• English – This style makes use of woods such as oak, walnut and mahogany. The pieces range from quite heavy and imposing to rustic and hand crafted, depending on the era of history in which they were styled. Use of dark, natural colors is predominant, as is limited attention to decorative and fancy details.
• French – This style is extremely decorative, often including elaborate designs and materials. Detailed carvings, lush fabrics, and ornate patterns are typical and are considered the hallmarks of traditional French palatial style. Also present in the French style are pieces more typical of a country feel, but these items still reflect a general tendency toward ornamental furniture.
• Italian – This style has its roots in the 15th century when the ancient heritage and fine arts of Rome experienced a renewal. Furniture pieces are typically large and ornate, often using shapes derived from Roman architecture and sculpture. The Italian style makes use of many different materials in addition to wood and fabric, such as marble, stone, and other regional materials. Common features include columns, pedestals, and ornate bases.
The common element shared by most furniture styles is the influence of shapes and designs from around the world. Early pieces from the 15th, 16th and 17th century typically reflect gradual evolution of melded styles, usually dictated by the presence of trade routes and interactions among different countries and cultures.
In the modern world, traditional styles still abound but with the ease of communication, sharing of ideas, and changes in materials and technology you can expect furniture styles to continue evolving based on various world influences.