Curbly Guide: Furniture Styles 101

Furniture styles can be confusing. What's the difference between contemporary and modern? Or rustic and country? Keep reading to find out... we'll spell it out for you with easy to understand definitions and examples too.  

Furniture Styles 101


Furniture Styles 101

Arts & Crafts Furniture

The Arts & Crafts movement began in the late 19th century, as a reaction against the ornate and often poorly-made furniture of the time. Simple, rectilinear shapes were characteristic of this style, and pieces were usually handmade using wood (as shown above). Craftsmanship and durability were of utmost importance during this time period.

Curbly Guide: Furniture Styles 101

Classic Contemporary Furniture

This style is recognizable through the use of soft, rounded lines and inviting textures. Think large, rounded sofas and tables with curved legs as shown in the example above. Classic contemporary furniture has a touch of the Victorian glamour of the 1800's, but with a simplified, friendlier feel.

Furniture Styles 101

Contemporary Furniture

This style is characterized by straight or slightly curved lines, high contrast and a sleek feel like the space above. Contemporary furniture has clean, oversimplified shapes and industrial finishes. It became popular during the 1950's and 60's as the fascination with technology grew, but is still one of the primary styles today.

Furniture Styles 101

Country Style Furniture

This style often features distressed wooden elements with a farmhouse or barn sort of feel. Country style furniture may be upholstered with plaid fabric or small calico-style prints, usually in muted or natural colors. If you enjoy a comfy, charming type of look, then this is the style for you. 

Furniture Styles 101

Modern Furniture

Modern style furniture is often made of dark leather, chrome or glass, and will usually have a boxy, squared off shape. It originated in the 1900's with the rising popularity of mass production. Form and function are an important element of this style. It differs from contemporary in that it refers to a certain period of time (the first half of the 20th century) whereas contemporary design is ever-changing and can refer to current trends. 

Furniture Styles 101

Rustic Furniture

Rustic style is similar to Country, but emphasizes raw, organically-shaped materials and highlights the contrasting textures found in nature. Wood is often the main component, but stone, hides, distressed metal and natural fibers are other common elements.

Curbly Guide: Furniture Styles 101

Shabby-Chic Furniture

The Shabby-Chic style originated in England, and its most recognized element is white distressed furniture. These pieces are often second-hand items that have been refinished, and tend to have a feminine, romantic look. Curved lines and soft, cozy materials give this style an inviting feel.

Furniture Styles 101

Traditional Style

Traditional style furniture is all about the materials - rich textiles, intricate woodwork and decorative accents are all characteristic of this look. You'll often see curved lines and tapered legs on furniture of this style. It will also possess a classic, timeless feel.

Furniture Styles 101

Transitional Furniture Styles

Transitional, on the other hand, feels a bit more simple. Calming color palettes and soft shapes are characteristic of this style. Imagine combining contemporary and traditional styles together - simple yet sophisticated designs with lush fabrics and materials.


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Anonymous on Aug 28, 2014:

thanks a lot! really nice post!very helpfull

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