When choosing furniture, people tend to gravitate to one of three primary styles – Contemporary, Traditional or Casual. Under these main categories are various specific styles. Contemporary styles include Art Deco, Mid-Century Modern and Minimalism. Traditional styles can include Victorian, Neoclassic and Colonial Revival. Casual styles include Rustic, Cottage and American Country.
Here is a general overview of the three primary furniture styles:
Contemporary style is characterized by clean lines, uncluttered living spaces that include open space as part of the overall design of the room. Colors are generally neutral or black, sometimes with a spark of one or two bold focus colors evident in accessories. The clean lines of contemporary style can be seen in its architectural or geometric details, its minimally dressed windows and uncluttered surfaces.
Traditional style has elements such as finely upholstered furniture, often combined with carved or shaped wood. Patterned fabric details are often used. Accessories are plentiful, but specifically placed, giving this style a formal feel. Colors are neither bright nor contrasting, but generally fall into a medium range of tones, with deep or pastel accents.
Casual style can be difficult to categorize because of the many ways that casual style is expressed. Rustic style would include heavy, natural looking wood furniture with little if any carving or ornamentation. Rustic accessories might include representations of nature or wildlife. Cottage style might include white furniture that may appear antique or distressed, combined with accessories that include details of florals, pastels or lace.
Determining your preferred furniture style can take some thought, however. Many people enjoy aspects of all styles. Some may mistakenly think that if they buy whatever they like at the moment that it will all somehow work once everything is delivered. They then find themselves in a mismatched mish-mash of furniture with no flow or connection from one room to the next.
Instead, plan ahead a bit. If you are married or partnered, you should each take some time to cut out pictures of furniture that you like, so that design elements that you both like can be identified. Having pictures to look at and discuss can also avoid miscommunication between couples. In nearly every couple, one partner knows more about design than the other. Because of this, a table that one partner would describe as casual the other may describe as contemporary. When asked, the partner with more design knowledge might point to elements that identify it as distinctly contemporary, while the other might call it casual because of its simplicity. By gathering pictures to compare, it can be much easier to agree on a style.
When you go out to look at furniture, go to the stores where you are drawn to the furniture itself, not just the trendy accessories. When you arrive and begin to be drawn to certain pieces, take some time to explore how it might fit into your life. Spend a bit of time sitting in the chairs and couches, or talking at the dining room tables. The type you select for your home should not only reflect your style, but should be those comfortable spots that you and your family look forward to settling into at the end of a long day.