The range of furniture and interior design styles is wide, from contemporary to traditional and everything in between. Choosing the right style to suit your taste and ensuring that each room feels cohesive, while creating a good flow between rooms can be a challenge.
Designing a room should be fun, not overwhelming. So we’ve put together a guide to the most popular furniture styles to help educate and inspire you, from the clean lines of minimalism to the soft curves of french-inspired traditional.
Contemporary furniture takes its inspiration from right here, right now – styles and trends that are current at the moment, furniture pieces that reflect contemporary trends. It’s a fluid, ever-changing style that’s perfect if you love to be at the forefront of design.
Contemporary furniture is simple, subtle and sophisticated. It works well in an uncluttered space that focuses on bold color, strong shapes, and fresh light. Contemporary furniture matches perfectly with chic neutral shades – steel grey, beige, cream, and bold white. Black is the grounding color and pops of brightness come with smart accessories.
Don’t put too much in your room. Avoid excessive detail, ruffles on furniture, floral prints, fringes, carvings and any cute little detail when decorating in a contemporary style. Stick with bare polished wood floors rather than carpet, says About Home.
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Modern furniture is characterized by clean, straight lines and minimal detail. It generally refers to furniture that was produced from the late 19th century onwards as a direct response to Art Nouveau, Victorian, and Neoclassical styles.
Polished metal and sleek, shiny wood replaced ornate, carved wooden furniture in the modern style. In interior design, modern style is characterized by bare wooden floors, oversized wall tiles, open plan rooms, and hardly any detail on furnishings and fittings.
If you love the modern look, use plenty of stainless steel and chrome. Enjoy splashing bold accent colors among the stark neutrals – try an abstract art wall, or a single, dramatic piece of furniture in red or orange.
What’s the difference between modern and contemporary?
This is the subject of much debate, and it can be confusing when the two terms are often used interchangeably. Generally speaking, modern refers to furniture designed from the early 19th century onwards, characterized by bold, clean lines and in opposition to the traditional decorative style of the time. Contemporary refers to any current style that uses sleek lines, minimalist tones, slick storage and no clutter.
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The essence of Country Cottage style is cozy, simple, rustic chic. Think relaxed and comfortable furniture made for family lunches, worn and loved pieces that display character and warmth.
Country Cottage style furniture works well with light and soft colors – if you love pastels, Cottage style is your go-to design inspiration. Use faded greens, dusty lilac, rose, butter yellow and lavender. To create the full Country Cottage look combine pine or oak furniture with pale floral fabrics, pretty accessories, found pieces, and romantic touches like frilly throw pillows and intriguing antiques. You can mix vintage and new to great effect with this style.
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If you can picture yourself living in a French chateau or even the countryside, this is the furniture look for you. French-Inspired furniture is characterized by medium-toned wood, rustic-style chair seats, and painted wood to accent the detail of the grain.
French-Inspired style is casual and relaxed, although you can also decorate in a more ornate French fashion taking your inspiration from the chateau in the French hills. French style interiors are simple with an effortless elegance. Use fresh pastel colors with faded neutrals like cream and off-white. Accessorize with floral fabrics, fresh flowers, and a few treasured antique finds.
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Minimalist furniture is simple, structured, and stark. A minimalist room is reduced to its most essential elements and it looks spacious, light and powerful. Minimalist furniture may not be the most comfortable but it certainly looks impressive.
Storage is essential in a minimalist room so that everything can be tucked away safely out of sight. You gain a clean and functional room that inspires with its sense of space and balance. White is the perfect color for minimalist design. Stick to one other feature color if you want to draw the eye to a piece of art or a rug. Walls are flat painted and floors are bare boards or large, single-colored rugs.
Painted furniture is exactly as the name implies – wooden furniture given a fresh coat of paint for a number of different effects. Paint can redefine wooden furniture and bring new life to traditional shapes. Painted furniture can be distressed, lacquered, shiny, or matt.
White or off-white is a widely used color for painted furniture and this shade matches practically any color scheme you desire. Distressed finishes highlight the wood grain – choose a dusky pink, or a soft grey, to create a cozy living room or bedroom.
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Rustic furniture is created from organic, natural materials. Think strong, rough wooden chairs with shabby chic seat covers, carved wooden tables, stone sinks, and a whole lot of bare wooden flooring. Rustic furniture has a great connection to the past and speaks of a simpler way of living.
The Rustic style is naturally warm and friendly. Real wood glows in the light of a real fire for a cozy living room. Rustic furniture makes use of recycled materials and repurposed items. You’ll love this look if you like to bring a touch of the outside indoors.
Shabby chic furniture is carefully distressed wooden items that are made to look old, but which are often brand new. Shabby chic is a rustic look that takes inspiration from country cottages, vintage tea rooms, and French-style farmhouses. In a shabby chic living room your fabrics are much-loved and faded by the sun, and the walls are pastel-colored, with pewter antique jugs and earthenware vases on wooden shelves.
British designer Rachel Ashwell coined the phrase in the late 1980s to describe her own style, developed using different paint techniques and attention to detail when refurbishing old furniture for contemporary homes.
However, shabby chic has roots much further back – in stately homes in the 1900s where the owners couldn’t afford the upkeep on their properties and let furnishings and paintwork “go to seed.” It is also linked to French country style, and the look of old French chateau with faded antiques and pastel-coloured wood-paneled walls.
A shabby chic furniture piece could be a distressed off-white wardrobe, or a chest of drawers with added antique-style knobs. Shabby chic furniture goes well with heritage paint colors, patchwork, and crystal glass.
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Shaker furniture was developed by the United Society of Believers in Christ’s Second Appearing, commonly known as Shakers, in the US in the 18th Century. It is a distinctive furniture style made famous by its minimalist design and focus on function over form.
Shake furniture serves a purpose and it is carefully and proportionally designed. Traditional Shaker furniture is made from cherry or maple wood and highlights tapered legs and a lack of ornamentation. Shaker style furniture works well with dark wood pieces, plain walls, and a few carefully chosen antique accessories.
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Traditional furniture is homely and welcoming. Sofas feature floral fabrics and tartan cushions. Wooden furniture is shaped with soft, curved edges and made from dark or medium-shade wood. Traditional furniture is all about balance, setting pieces off against each other in a familiar, pleasing way, says Houzz. Colors are varied within a traditional room with lighter walls in green, light blue, or beige, and deeper jewel-like colors on furniture and upholstery.
Let us know in the comments which styles you have in your home!