Traditional furniture is a formal style usually designed to replicate the hand-carved, ornate furnishings produced up until the end of the Victorian era. It often features deep carvings, thick wood, rich, dark stains, scroll motifs and ball or claw feet. Intricate inlaid sections are also common along with sophisticated fabric patterns in a variety of “old world” inspired fabrics and leathers. Traditional furniture is most known for its regal style and opulence.
Contemporary design consists of neutral colors, bold accessories, strong lines and a minimalist aesthetic. By choosing neutral tones, such as various tans, beige and grays for larger pieces, bold accents such as lamps, pillows, rugs and accessories will further “pop”, giving a contemporary room a sense of vibrance while maintaining a sleek, stark design that is highly functional and comfortable. The “less is more” philosophy is a key component to contemporary design.
Transitional furniture refers to a blend of traditional and contemporary styles. By incorporating lines that are not as ornate as traditional designs, but also not as basic as standard contemporary designs, the transitional style produces an effect that is classic, timeless and elegantly clean while still retaining a sense of “old world” hand craftsmanship. Texture is an important element of transitional design and a multitude of fabric selections is often used.
Rustic furniture incorporates sticks, twigs or logs in order to achieve a “natural” look. This style is often associated with the Great Depression - a time when found objects where commonly being used to build furnishings. It has also become associated with the “Great Camps” built by wealthy Americans in the Adirondack mountains, which gave rise to the familiar Adirondack chair. Rustic designs often make use of chip carving, peeled bark and other decorative forms.
In many ways, cottage furniture is similar to the Victorian style of traditional designs. There is some carving, mostly in the form of finials and medallions, but the majority of the decoration is painted. The cottage style became popular in the mid to late 1800’s, particularly on the East coast of the United States, in places like Martha’s Vineyard, Cape May and the Berkshires. Many times cottage furniture is painted in a unifying base tone but can also be left in a natural finish.
The history of country furniture dates back to the American farmers and pioneers of the 1800‘s. Country, French country and primitive country are all styles of country furniture. Primitive country is rustic and simple while the country style is more refined but lacking in frills and decorations. The French country style combines the elements of both primitive and country while adding decorative accents like carvings and design patterns. Necessity is emphasized before style.
Casual furniture is intended to be warm and comfortable. The style tends to draw on early English and American designs and often intermingles laid-back country, cottage and farmhouse styles. Casual furnishings are inviting, low-maintenance and centered around everyday usage and normal daily life. Upholstery is plush, often slip-covered, while wood finishes are usually warm and sometimes rustic or distressed. Natural fabrics like cotton and wool are common.
Tuscan style is inspired by the Italian countryside and makes use of elements such as wood, stone, leather and iron. Common woods include cypress, fir, chestnut and poplar. Many designs are reminiscent of Spanish furnishings and often have a distinctively old or antique character. Rich reds and cool blues are important to the Tuscan style and help to create a sense of warmth and vibrancy. Tuscan furniture can exhibit a range of designs, from ornate to simple and rustic.
Mission style furniture is popularly associated with the American Arts and Crafts movement and dates back to the late 19th century. Mission style emphasizes the natural grain of the wood by making use of simple horizontal and vertical lines. Flat panels are also common. Mission style gained popularity as people began looking for relief from the excesses of Victorian design and also the mass-produced furnishings of the industrial revolution.