A 19th century style often included in the larger category of
Federal. Adam style
is characterized by a strong but restrained classical influence, somewhat
heavier than contemporaries
A style developed in North America in the 17th century by the early
American settlers with influences from around the world, but especially
Artisan style is characterized by fine but not overly ornate workmanship
that celebrates the maker's community identity or ethnicity. In general,
an artisan is a craftsperson who works by commission, taking pride in the
quality of work but working to the commissioner's specifications in terms
of creative detail.
A style of the early 20th century that incorporated new materials and was
characterized by bold, geometric forms.
Art Nouveau went against the
mainstream of the time around the turn of the 20th century. This style is
characterized by smoothly curving lines and subtle transitions through the
form. It uses organic forms as inspiration for the entire design rather
than simply the ornamentation. Typically, Art Nouveau lines begin a large
S- shaped curve that ends in a rapid, whip like tail.
The Arts and Crafts period between the 1860’s and 1939 was an answer to
style. Rather than drawing on ornamental styles from the past, it took on
a rustic, craftsman look, also sometimes referred to as
Stickley or Mission.
A general term referring to styles of the Far East. See
for two more specific examples of Asian style. Furniture with Asian
sensibilities is popular as a subset of contemporary style.
Between the 17th and early 18th century, Baroque style heavily influenced
Western Europe. It originated in Italy and was representative of the Roman
Catholic Church. Pieces are characterized by large twisted columns, broken
pediments, and heavy moldings. The details are related to the entire piece
and flow throughout the entire work rather than simply throughout one
Chinese furniture, ranging in time from the mid-1300s to the mid-1600s,
typically features fine, simple designs made of choice hardwoods,
beautifully finished, and unornamented except for careful moldings and
important hardware made of metals such as pewter, brass and copper. Common
characteristics are unique joinery, lacquered wood pieces and inlays of
mother of pearl, marble, ivory, and stones.
A term referring to furniture styles in use in colonies around the world
during the great colonial period from the 16th to 19th centuries. Colonial
furniture is characterized by a strong "mother country" influence balanced
by the use of local materials and adapted to local needs.
Based on the Modern style, except this style uses classical concepts for
decoration and detail. Often furniture is made of rubber, metal, or
concrete with long low profiles.
Mass-produced furniture popular in the mid-19th century, originating in
functional demands rather than in display. Usually painted white, pale
lilac or blue and often enhanced with fruit and floral motifs or abstract
curvilinear designs. Turned legs and split backs are common
A casual style that gained popularity in the 1980's and remains popular
today, often featuring nature and nostalgic motifs. The appearance of
handcrafting is also important. "Distressing" is commonly seen.
A 20th century style originating in the Netherlands. As with other
furniture of the period, DeStijl furniture is characteristically simple
Named for the Directorate of France after the French Revolution,
Directoire style prevailed between 1793 and 1804. It is characterized by
Etruscan-appearing forms and motifs, including mythical and stylized
animal forms. Of note are mahogany dining tables of the period, which were
for the first time decorative enough in themselves to be displayed without
Early Flemish Baroque furniture, dating from the 17th century, was but a
slight adaptation of the
style. Typical are oak cupboards with four doors and chairs with seats and
backs of velvet or leather held in place by nails. Most pieces are
massive, solid unpretentious pieces made of local woods with turnings.
Dutch furniture of this period can be distinguished by its simpler design
and a preference for molded panels over carved ornament. Later, marquetry
and walnut-veneer surfaces became the most common decorative treatments.
This style flourished between 1608 and 1720 in Virginia and New England.
It included unpretentious wood furniture of simple construction with
little design detail and crude copies of
and William and
Mary. Most pieces echoed European styles.
Between 1515 and 1547, the transitional period between
arts and the classical revival. Characterized by arch form, ornament and
detail in style and decoration, high relief carving with diamond shapes
and architectural pilasters, and ornamented with olive, laurel, and
acanthus leaves. Pieces usually featured no hardware.
Popular during the reign of Elizabeth I of England in the latter half of
the 16th century, Elizabethan furniture is massive and often heavily
carved. The style regained popularity in the early 19th century.
The period distinctions of English furniture are somewhat indefinite owing
to the variety of labels according to monarchs, designers, typical woods,
external influences, etc. Changes were happening so rapidly that primarily
the type of wood used distinguished the boundaries of the English style.
Classified by the separation of the ages of oak, walnut, mahogany, and
Sophisticated style with great attention to detail and ornamentation.
This was the American’s reaction to the
during the late 18th century. Federal is more geometric and is lighter and
more delicate than preceding styles. Details include fine inlay and
refined turnings. Chair backs are either square cornered or curved.
Finnish furniture designers used bent and laminated (layers of solid wood)
woods to create organic, humanistic forms and lightweight open shapes.
These designers were also the first to experiment with tubular steel in
Though this style ranged in time from about 1100 to 1500, until 1400
French furniture was indistinct from the
Gothic style of
Northern Europe - ecclesiastical. The nomadic lifestyle established the
need for chests, coffers, and benches. Prominent pieces were those that
served dual purposes and were easy to travel with. Originally based on the
the French furniture of the 16th Century was very detailed and graceful
with inlay marquetry of ivory, mother of pearl, and various colors of
A period from about 1714 to 1790 that reflects the British interpretation
of Palladianism (early), the
Rococo (mid) and
The style period between 12th and 16th century is known as Gothic. This
style derived from Roman architecture and was seen in France by the middle
of the 12th century. It is characterized by the use of highly decorative
panels and the use of indigenous woods. It was revived in England around
1740 and known as “Gothick." North Americans began to make their own
versions in the mid 1800’s.
From 9th century B.C. with Egyptian roots. Characterized by use of bronze
animal legs, gilding and encrusted jewels and stones. Used native woods
such as olive, yew, and cedar. It features sweeping curves on legs and
backs, and centers on couches, chairs, stools, tables, chests, and boxes.
Usually not highly decorated.
(See also Federal)
George Hepplewhite, author of the posthumously published The
Cabinet-Maker and Upholsterer’s Guide (1788), stated his goal as “to
unite elegance and utility." Hepplewhite style is conservative, retaining
design elements from earlier periods such as the cabriole leg, but tended
to have a lighter appearance than the
Adam style, its
Characteristics of this 15th century style include simple outlines and
details such as architectural profiles with classic moldings,
ornamentation of acanthus, Rinceau, and animal forms.
This style, popular between 1603 and 1649, is the earliest work from the
Americas. It is also referred to as Pilgrim furniture. It is characterized
by heavy turnings used as legs and spindles. At times, turned legs are
split in half and applied to panels for decoration. Oak or pine is common
and the ornamentation is sometimes painted.
Japanese domestic usage required little furniture. The chief requirement
for the few forms that were developed was that they be easily movable.
Chests and cupboards were built in with sliding doors. Usually finished
with highly polished lacquer flecked with gold and decorated with
fine-scaled flower, animal, and landscape motives. Thin mats made of rice
straw called tatami covered the floors and were used for sitting. Cloth
cushions were also used, as were small tables of wood or lacquer, either
folding or rigid. Dressing tables and writing tables were specialized
forms that evolved from the simple table. The folding screen was an
indispensable adjunct to the other furnishings as it could be moved to
change the entire aspect of the room. Japanese furniture forms have
changed little for centuries.
Features 17th century Italian classic ornamentations of columns,
pilasters, and geometric shapes. Traces of
are present. The beauty of line and mass appear more important than
The period from 1715 to 1774, also known as the Regence, marked a shift
from the weighty character of earlier
rococo styles to
embrace a more light-hearted, somewhat simpler feel. Carvings and
marquetry were simplified and contributed more to the overall motif of the
piece than in the prior period.
Early Middle Ages: With the collapse of the Roman Empire during the
4th-5th centuries, Europe sank into a period in which little furniture,
except the most basic, was used: chairs, stools, benches, and primitive
chests were the most common items. There is evidence that certain ancient
traditions of furniture making, particularly that of turnery, influenced
early medieval craftsmen. Turnery was used in making chairs, stools, and
couches in Byzantium, and it seems that this technique was known across
Europe as far north as Scandinavia. Later Middle Ages (14th and 15th
centuries): Folding chairs and stools, trestle tables with removable tops,
and beds with collapsible frameworks were usual. The religious houses were
an exception to this in that they enjoyed a certain security denied to the
outside world. Much of the best furniture of this period was therefore
made for use in churches and monasteries, and many of the ideas and
developments that were later to add to the domestic comfort of Europe
originated in the cloister. Household furnishings were frequently crude in
design and roughly constructed. Other forms of carved decoration on
furniture became more common during the 15th century, when surfaces were
carved with tracery and other Gothic motifs. During the Middle Ages a
great many pieces of furniture, including those with carved decoration,
were painted and sometimes gilded, a practice that continued well into the
Renaissance. The chest was the basic type
of medieval furniture, serving as cupboard, trunk, seat, and, if
necessary, as a simple form of table and desk.
Ranging in time from 1550 to 1610, Middle Renaissance furniture was
characterized by broken pediments, colonnettes, pilasters, flat strapwork,
and cartouche ornamentation. Stars and diamonds were used in bold relief.
The Mission style, from the early 20th century but enjoying a resurgence
today, is inspired by the mission furniture of the Southwest that was made
of rough-sawn lumber and pegs and dowels. It is a very popular offshoot of
the Arts and Crafts period. The style is
characterized by simple, functional designs made of oak and stained wood
with minimal ornamentation. Leather and Native American designs are often
the motif of the coverings.
An early-to-mid 20th century style, Modernism, one extreme of the
movement, was austerely functional in its purest form. It drew on Machine
Age sensibilities and minimized ornament in favor of extreme simplicity of
form following function.
Neo-classicism, which is sometimes called Louis XVI, lasted from 1750
through 1800. Travel into Greece, Italy, and the Near East during this
time produced archaeological discoveries, and publications about these
were spread through Europe. In response, designers of this period looked
to classical art for inspiration. Chair backs took on rectangular or
shield shapes, and slender, straight lines were the rule.
Popular from the 1820s in Europe and from the 1840s in North America, this
style features such motifs as pinnacles, crockets, and trefoils.
An American style created in the early 18th century. The most relevant
feature is the cabriole leg. The cabriole leg is a bowed, offset leg that
grows from the floor around the entire piece. Walnut is the favored wood,
but maple and cherry are also used. Mahogany began to achieve popularity
during this time.
Generically, a traditional furniture style characterized by majestic
forms. Many especially European furniture styles are further characterized
by the name of the specific monarch or monarchical dynasty during the
style's time period, such as
William and Mary
Essentially a continuation of the neo-classical style with a stronger
archaeological emphasis. Napoleon’s campaigns in Egypt inspired the use of
Egyptian ornament. Mahogany furniture took on winged lion supports and
pilasters headed with sphinxes’ busts or palm leaves.
In the early 20th century, Rietveld style grew from the Dutch Arts and
Crafts movement with a strong Frank Lloyd Wright influence. Machined forms
and manmade materials figured in this style, which sought to preserve the
integrity of Arts
and Crafts while embracing the modern
This movement began in Italy in the 13th century and continued through the
17th century. After it was introduced in France it spread throughout
northern Europe. It often features ornamentation inspired by Italians
Michelangelo and Raphael. The furniture is true to the purpose of the
piece and often incorporates mythological or biblical figures. Walnut is
often the wood of choice.
A variation of the Federal
A contemporary retrospective view, which reinterprets some of the
best-loved looks from the 1930s to 1980s. The mood of these pieces is
playful and ironic. The classics have extra emotional punch because you
recognize such items as exaggerated Hollywood sofas, 1950s boomerang
tables or wacky '70s chairs from late night films, TV sitcoms and old
A French-influenced style that dominated the first half of the 18th
century, essentially a lightening of the
Rosewood and fruit woods replace the darker woods used previously. The
details of the furniture were more delicate, curved forms with smaller
units of ornament.
Early medieval furniture with crude Roman influences. Characterized by
arches and curves, simple geometric arrangements, coarsely rendered animal
and plant forms, and paint in decorative hues. Found throughout Europe,
the Romanesque style preceded Gothic and Renaissance styles.
The Russian style is a blending of styles from throughout Europe. The
production of metal furniture can be considered a purely "Russian"
phenomenon since the production of metal furniture was not found elsewhere
in Europe at the time.
18th century utilitarian objects that were usually handmade of common
materials. Decorations resembled natural growth of trees, etc. The
strength and character of southwestern and Colonial Mexican design is
included in this style, as are the hunting lodge looks of the Adirondacks
and the northwest.
At the 1930 Stockholm Exhibition and the 1939 World's Fair in New York,
the larger world was first exposed to the simple, clean, and lightweight
forms of Scandinavian furniture. Quality craft combined with mass
production where appropriate are hallmarks of the style. Bent plywood is a
commonly used material.
The Shakers, who were a religious society with colonies throughout the
United States, produced furniture during the early nineteenth century that
is characterized by its economy and efficiency. They produced works with
the attitude that work is prayer, which resulted in highly practical and
functional designs that appeal to modern tastes. The plain turnings of a
classic, straight back, Shaker chair is indicative of the design’s
commitment to simplicity and function.
Thomas Sheraton gave his name to a stylistic period from the late 18th to
early 19th centuries. The
movement is heavily influenced by his The Cabinet Dictionary and
The Cabinet-Maker and Upholsterer's Drawing Book.
Contemporary style which is highly influenced by Native American Indian
traditions. Light-colored woods, light and bright color palettes, rich
patterns, and desert scenery characterize furniture.
Ranging in time from the mid-1200's to 1600, furniture of this style is
vigorous, masculine, and even barbarous. Typical pieces were richly
carved, painted, gilded, and inlaid with ivory in a Moorish manner. They
used metal supports and ornamentations, nail heads, and chip or gouge
Beginning in the very first year of the twentieth century, Gustav Stickley
made furniture that is prized almost a hundred years later for its
honesty, simplicity, and usefulness. As a designer and manufacturer who
emphasized careful workmanship, respect for natural materials, and simple
lines, Stickley had a profound impact on the look of American homes.
Today, Arts and Crafts design -- synonymous with Stickley to many people
-- has become an American passion.
Traditionally styled furniture is available in both original antique
pieces and quality reproductions. This type of furniture usually follows a
particular period style such as
or Louis XV.
The Tudor period is generally accepted as the reign of Henry VIII through
the reign of Elizabeth I of England. Tudor furniture was typically
massive, heavily carved, and influenced by
furniture. The foregoing
Gothic style contributed its straight
lines to this period as well.
Victorian refers to a time period rather than a particular style. The
Victorian period fell between 1837 through 1901. The industrial revolution
allowed for the mass production of furniture and styles from earlier
periods were drawn upon. Heavy ornamentation is a hallmark of the
Victorian period. The round ottoman, balloon back chair, and single end
sofa were all developed during this period. Victorian can be further
subdivided into Victorian-American and Victorian-English.
An American style popular in the American colonies during the late 1600’s.
Walnut and maple became the material of choice and veneering was
introduced for highly figured, naturally decorative wood. Hinged lids were
placed on desk boxes on stands, and on chests of drawers, producing the
secretary we are familiar with today.
The term Windsor refers to a chair style dating from the 18th century. Use
of local woods is characteristic of Windsor chairs, which are available in
regionally variant forms. Saddle-shaped seats and spindle backs are