Before beginning to furnish your home for the first time or for a furniture overhaul, take some time to select the style of furniture you want. Although the pieces themselves do not have to be from exactly the same set, your house will have a much more polished look if you stick to a major style and buy only furniture that fits within that style. Consider your favorite pieces of furniture and look at pictures of homes fully decorated in particular styles to help you decide which one suits you best.
Perhaps the most formal style of furniture readily available today is Victorian furniture. Items in this category have a gothic look and usually have a lot of carving and ornamentation. Chairs often combine an elaborately carved wooden frame with patterned upholstery. These pieces have a formal appearance and sometimes look like they should remain untouched rather than actually using them. Therefore, if you choose to go for Victorian furniture, you might want to opt for pieces that look worn or take extra steps to ensure that guests feel comfortable in your home even though the furniture is so formal.
Mission style furniture is also sometimes called Arts and Craft furniture, and it is characterized by simple construction and a design focused more on effective use than on looking especially fancy. You will find most pieces have straight lines and do not contain much, if any ornamentation. This style of furniture is readily available and can be easy to piece together a collection that matches well even though they do not come from the same set.
Think of diner-style furniture when going for the retro style. You will find a lot of shiny metal, vinyl upholstery, bright colors, stripes, and bold pieces. Because retro style furniture can be a little overwhelming, when decorating, be sure that your pieces match somewhat in color scheme and materials. You also might want to have white walls so your rooms aren’t overwhelmed by color. One of the major benefits of retro furniture is that you can find plenty of it for good prices at antique malls, thrift stores and garage sales.
The modern style of furniture focuses more on geometric shapes and crisp lines than on comfort and craftsmanship. You will see little wood in modern furniture, and the wood you find is usually painted. Instead, look for leather, plastic, glass and metal in modern furniture. Some styles of modern furniture are very boxy, whereas others incorporate unexpected curves and look more like artwork than furniture. Use a variety of pieces to create an eclectic feel and balance the starkness of some pieces with the warmth of others.
Cottage-style furniture often has an unfinished appearance and a color scheme reminiscent of a beach cottage. You will find pieces with pale blue, lilac and yellow tones and rustic materials, such as denim and wicker. A home decorated with cottage-style furniture has a casual appearance and usually feels very welcoming. It is easy to add decorations that match cottage furniture, such as seashells, rope accents and nautical photos.
As the name sounds, traditional furniture has a classic look that has been in style for decades and will continue to stay in style. Furniture items in the traditional style generally have basic shapes, smooth curves, minimal ornamentation and understated fabrics and patterns. Traditional furnishings don’t necessarily draw attention to themselves, but they are still pretty when you look more closely at them. Traditional furniture is a good choice if you want people to see your home as comfortable and relaxing. It is easy to find traditional items that work well with one another, even though they are not from the same designer.
The last major category of furniture to consider is ethnic. These items all come from a particular country, such as Japan, China, or Morocco, or are based on designs you would find there. Ethnic designs generally appeal to people who have traveled to that country or whose families are from there, because the pieces feel familiar. Although it can be expensive to decorate in an ethnic look, your home will likely look much different from that of your neighbors, which can be an asset if you are trying to stand out.
Once you find a furniture style that you think you like, start shopping for pieces in that style. Before buying any, make sure you can find items you like in each major category. For example, you will need living room furniture, a dining table, bedroom furniture and accent pieces that all fit your budget and form a cohesive style.