There are plenty of different styles of furniture on the market, but with so many terms getting thrown around it’s hard to know what is what! Here we have broken down the most commonly used terms to give you a hand with choosing your ideal furniture style.
Read on to get tips on how to recognize the differences between furniture styles that are often confused:
• Antique vs. Vintage
• Traditional vs. Rustic
• Art Deco vs. Retro
• Shabby Chic vs. French provincial
• Modern vs. Contemporary
Plus we’ve pulled extra information for you on each of the styles.
Antique vs. Vintage
Antique furniture includes pieces from an earlier period. It is often crafted out of wood and its age, condition, unique features and rarity determine how collectible the piece is and therefore, how high its value. Genuine antiques are, by definition, at least 100 years old and often have to be purchased from experienced dealers to guarantee authenticity.
Vintage furniture on the other hand is between twenty and one hundred years old and is easily recognisable as belonging to a particular period within that time. Once you know what you’re looking for, spotting it is easier than it sounds!
Traditional vs. Rustic
Traditional furniture is formal furniture from the Victorian period. It combines features from the Queen Anne period – graceful and elaborately decorated, Chippendale style – artistic embellishment and straightened out lines and Sheraton style – delicate pieces with tapered legs and contrasting inlays. Together this creates a comfortable and warm environment with hand crafted, dark timber pieces, over stuffed, plush sofas and elegant fabrics.
Rustic style furniture is influenced by many different styles coming together to create warm, natural and honest interiors. If furniture is rustic it will often be made of a warm timber or a natural material like animal hide, cotton or linen. It has a worn and homely appearance and is often more relaxed then formal. Scandinavian and industrial furniture design are usually synonymous with being rustic.
Art Deco vs. Retro
Art Deco is an eclectic style that combines Machine Age imagery and materials with traditional crafts. The style is characterized by geometric and angular shapes, materials like chrome, glass, shiny fabrics, mirrors and mirror tiles as well as stylized images of aeroplanes, cars and skyscrapers. With the success of The Great Gatsby movie and TV series like Boardwalk Empire, Art Deco is back in full force.
Retro furniture can be harder to define. When we think of Retro design we usually conjure up ideas of mod, geometric shapes in teal, yellow and brown or flashbacks to the kitchen from the Brady Bunch with its tulip table and orange splash back. Technically, retro furniture design is defined as aspects of modern culture which imitate trends, modes and fashions of the recent past which had come to be unfashionable.
Shabby Chic vs. French provincial
French provincial furniture is exactly what its title depicts. Characterised by the styles popular in the French provinces in the 17th and 18th century, this furniture style has a classic yet country feel to it. Ladder back dining chairs with woven seats, simple scalloped carving, large armoires or French sideboards with decorative moldings are all key features of this style.
Shabby Chic furniture, while similar, is more casual and often has a distressed appearance. The Furniture is typically white with a feminine and romantic feel. Like French provincial, this style originated from country houses but incorporates more up-cycling and salvaging of furniture.
Modern vs. Contemporary
Modern furniture originated under the modernist movement in the early 1900’s. It often combines leather, vinyl, steel, moulded plywood and plastics with a monochromatic colour scheme to create sleek and stylish interiors. Big name designers like Herman Miller, Hans Knoll and Charles and Ray Eames are the faces for this design era and you’ll often find replicas of their modern furniture designs on the market today. The Barcelona chair is a timeless example of modern design.
Modern furniture design is a defined style and will always refer to the modernist period of time, contemporary furniture design however, refers to furniture that is popular and used now, in the present. Furniture will often be described as “modern and contemporary”, which is where the confusion comes in between these two styles.
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