A Primer of Popular Traditional Furniture Styles
By Pamela Cole Harris
Whatever your individual style or taste, it is important to know
how to identify each style. If your best friend brags about the "To-die-for
Louis XV side chair, "dah-ling"," would you know what the heck she was talking
about? Well, here is a primer on furniture types that will help you appear to be
an expert whatever your neighbor buys next!
1. English Traditional
William and Mary - A simple and comfortable style with lots of
upholstery, arched cabinetry and turned legs. Elaborately carved walnut was the
wood of choice
Queen Anne - This style is hallmarked by graceful and lovely
S-shaped cabriole legs. This style usually has limited ornamentation, but what
is there is elegant - such as the scalloped shell motif.
Chippendale - Influenced by the Chinese, this style includes a
ball and claw foot and richly carved legs.
Victorian - Overstuffed chairs and elaborate and ornate woods
are elements of this style. Dark woods and elegant fabrics are also indicators
of this style.
2. French Traditional
Louis XIV - Very ornate and massive furniture is the hallmark of
this style. But while the pieces are enormous, their lines are straight and
Louis XV - This style features smaller scaled furniture,
although it continues to be extravagant and ornate. Curves appear instead of the
straight lines of Louis XIV. This style inspired a much-used fad of the 50s and
60s called French Provincial (remember white furniture with gilt trim?).
Louis XVI - This style is more subdued or subtle that earlier
French styles, It has classic, almost Grecian lines that lack decoration and
Empire - This style inspired other designs around the world such
as Duncan Phyfe, Sheraton and Biedermeier. The furniture was massive, but
symmetrical, with gentlly bowed fronts or legs.
3. American Traditional
American Traditional was influenced by English and French styles
and eventually evolved into a uniquely American style.
Contemporary Modern - With its roots traced to the Bauhaus
school of art in Germany, this style was simple, clean and geometric. The
hallmark of this style is the idea that "form follows function."
Country - This casual style is and expression of our American
social, ethnic and religious culture. It includes styles such as the clean and
simple lines of Shaker furniture, the massive simplicity of Mission, and similar
styles from artisans in the Southwest and all corners of the country.
These are the traditional styles on which most décor is based,
but I know of at least two others that I have used extensively in the past -
Early Thrift Shop or Late Graduate Student. Those styles feature eclectic
furniture and fabric choices and a budget of, say...ten bucks! Just love those
cinder block bookcases, don't you?
Pamela Cole Harris has been a writer for over 35 years (Yikes! Has it been that
long?) Her fun, tongue-in-cheek approach to decorating has made
http://www.homeandgardenmakeover.com one of the most popular décor sites on
the net. She brings the same spirit of fun and practical advice to her newest
site at http://www.diy-homedecor.com.