by Larry Schnurr, Owner
So it’s time for new furniture.
You have a style in mind. (Or maybe you don’t!) Mass furniture manufacturers have been altering and mixing styles so much over the years that most of us don’t know what a true furniture style actually looks like anymore. Olde Oak Tree carries every style available. So starting with the basics, here’s your furniture style guide.
Traditional furniture is reminiscent of a more romantic era with elegant lines and carved posts. Chairs are more formal and often have upholstered seats and backs. On headboards or dressers the feet are usually fancier and the drawer fronts have a routed edge or recessed panel. Raised panels are something you often find on the sides. Embellishments such as carvings and rosettes are common in this style.
Queen Anne, French Country, and Victorian are all styles that would fall under the Traditional label.
American Country and Cottage
These two styles are closely related. American country draws from the Traditional and Victorian styles but is made from a more rugged wood, such as oak or hickory. Heavy poster beds and oversized dressers and chests are standard characteristics. Brass or wood hardware and routed edges on tops and drawer fronts are characteristic of this style.
The Cottage movement started on the East Coast of the United States in the late 1800’s. Based on Victorian style furniture, the Cottage style lightened the feel with painted surfaces and painted on embellishments, like flower bouquets with a more folk-art feel to them. Cottage style today is painted white or cream and may include a tongue-in-groove or wainscoting look. Nantucket, Cape Cod, Martha’s Vineyard, and Maine Cottage are typical.
Mission and Shaker
Two of the most popular furniture styles today, these are very similar. Mission furniture was made popular in the late 19th century, and is patterned after furniture from the old missions in the Southwestern United States. Slatted ends and thicker straight lines are common to this style. Interestingly, the grouping of slats in mission furniture should be in odd numbers in order to truly be considered “mission.” The Stickley (from Gustov Stickley and his brothers in New York circ. 1850’s), Arts & Crafts, and Craftsman styles are all part of the Mission Style.
Shaker is similar to Mission. Made popular in the Quaker and Amish circles of the 1700-1800’s, Shaker furniture tends to have very straight, plain lines with no embellishment and simple, utilitarian knobs or handles. Furniture was not meant to be comfortable or flashy according to these groups, only useful and sturdy. (However, contemporary Shaker style pieces are very comfortable.)
Contemporary and Modern
These furniture styles refer to those common from the 1920’s through the 1970’s. Functional geometric shapes and machined, polished chrome are typical of this genre.
Characteristics of these styles would be plain fronts with no hardware; octagonal, square, round or oval shapes; no overhanging tops on dressers; and metal legs or handles. There is very little wood grain, instead most cases have painted or washed finishes. In the 1940’s, blonding was used to create that machined look.
Nordic, Art Deco, and Mid Century are styles associated with this category today.
This has recently become a popular option, using old barn wood or cheaper grades of wood to craft functional, budget friendly alternatives. Plank tops, distressed, log, or raw edge furniture are examples of Rustic furniture. Woods such as Pine, Hickory, Cedar, Quarter-Sawn Oak are popular for keeping with the style and feel of rustic.
Homes are built in such a way as to reflect many of these style options and characteristics. Consumers elect to furnish their homes to match the character of the architecture, their current furniture, or add contrast between color and wood.
But there is freedom in going against the norm and doing what you like. Furniture tastes can and do change over time and many people choose to mix several styles in one room for an Eclectic feel. Using pieces from family or those that remind you of a special person or time in your life are important, too.
Don’t get confused by fancy names or pressure to maintain a particular style. Furniture is an investment, especially when purchasing quality that will last, add character, and always look appealing. Take your time and make an educated decision. You know what you like. And, of course, we’re always here to help.