We all throw a bit of our own flair into how we decorate our living spaces, but oftentimes we have no clue what furniture styles we employ. And since the history of furniture styles is a long and complicated one, we decided to break it down for you.

With this guide, we aim to explore some of the old and the new styles so that our customers can better understand and explore their chosen style(s).

Traditional and Timeless Styles

There are a number of old furniture styles, perhaps too many to count.

The following is an overview of historical furniture styles — and key traits of these traditional furniture styles:

Federal (1780–1820)

This style is a combination of the older Hepplewhite (characterized by its delicate appearance, tapered legs, and contrasting veneers and inlay) and Sheraton (characterized by its contrasting veneers, straight lines, simplicity, and, occasionally, tapered legs) styles. Antique buyers revere the Federal style for its contrasting veneers, straight lines, neoclassical motifs, and ornamentation.

American Empire (1800–1840)

This is a French-inspired style of furniture that was popular during the late 19th century, particularly in the United States. Admirers enjoy this style’s classical ornamentation, dark finish, and course carvings.

Victorian (1840–1910)

Barcelona Coffee Table by Modus with Art Deco-inspired brushed bronze foundation to illustrate the history of furniture styles

Barcelona Coffee Table by Modus with Art Deco-inspired brushed bronze foundation

Named after Queen Victoria herself, this distinct style was a hallmark of the period (mainly the Industrial Revolution). It was the first style to be manufactured and mass-produced. Victorian furniture is classified by its elaborate ornamentation, heavy proportions, dark finish, and Romantic influence.

Arts and Craft (1880–1910)

This style was popular during the Arts and Craft movement, which sought to recapture the craftsmanship found in furniture pieces before the Industrial Revolution. It is a simple and utilitarian style.

Art Deco (1910–1939)

In contrast to the Arts and Craft style, Art Deco encouraged lavish excess. This particular type of furniture is characterized by its vibrant colors, exotic wood inlays, shiny metal surfaces, and geometric shapes.

Scandinavian Contemporary (1930–1950)

Named after the European region from which it originated, Scandinavian Contemporary design was popular in the early 20th century. The style is characterized by three things: functionality, minimalism, and simplicity. These pieces of furniture aim to incorporate a utilitarian design made with natural wood.

Modern Furniture Styles

Although traditional furniture styles can be rather appealing, sometimes more recent styles work best with our current modern design options. We’ve compiled a list of some of our favorite modern styles below.


At least a century old, antique furniture is typically made from wood and has unique, ornate details that allow dealers to easily date them. This style is great if you have an attachment to some of the older styles listed above.

American Colonial

American Colonial furniture combines different stylistic traits from the Jacobean, Pennsylvania Dutch, William and Mary, Queen Anne, and Chippendale styles. This eclectic style draws from many different trends from the British Colonial period, making it another great option for those who enjoy old styles.


Combining the best of the Chippendale, Queen Anne, and Sheraton styles, traditional furniture usually features delicate ornamentation, straight lines, and tapered legs.


Vintage style chair and small side tableVintage furniture is typically between 50 years and 100 years old and is usually purchased secondhand. While people often use the terms “vintage” and “old” interchangeably, the word “vintage” implies an artistic flair that embraces nostalgia for older time periods.


Rustic furniture brings warmth and coziness to the home through its natural elements. Furniture craftspeople often design this style with timber or other natural materials like cotton, linen, and hide.

American Design

American styles of furniture have a couple of things in common, they utilize solid wood furniture with distinctive grains and strong finishes, live-edge metal, stone, and leather. This blend of rich and rustic, known as American Artisan, has a unique and handcrafted feel.


“Retro” depends on the referenced decade. Still, retro furniture is characterized by its modern-ish designs that imitate past trends. While we sometimes use the term “kitschy” to describe it, good retro design can incorporate pop culture in a way that makes for colorful and whimsical furniture pieces.


Modern furniture styles came forth due to the influence of the modernist movement of the early 1900s. This category makes use of monochromatic color palettes and materials like steel, plastic, leather, and vinyl.


Minimalist furniture combines traits from many different past styles, including Scandinavian Contemporary, Modern, and Arts and Craft furniture. This mashup resulted in a practical style with a focus on round shapes and smooth edges. If you believe that less is more, you are a minimalist that would most likely appreciate this style.

Relaxed Modern

This look mashes the minimalist aesthetic with a relaxed and sophisticated vibe. Think sleek silhouettes paired with rich plush seating and metals such as champagne brass and brushed nickel paired with oak finishes. This mashup combines the simple with the luxurious.

Weathered Elm Two-Piece Round Nesting Tables by Coaster to illustrate the history of furniture styles

Weathered Elm Two-Piece Round Nesting Tables by Coaster with relaxed modern aesthetic

Shabby Chic

Originating from 1980s England, shabby chic combines vintage furniture with a peculiar brush and paint effect (usually in white). This style of furniture typically combines neutral colors with rustic effects to create a Euro-vintage vibe.

Casual Luxe

This refined and rustic look combines rustic finishes and familiar country styles with sophisticated touches and neutral color palettes. Their distinctive silhouettes convey the feeling of luxury while remaining casual and approachable.

Urban Collective

This look is a fresh and livable combination of boho-chic, industrial, and mid-century modern designs. It features reclaimed wood, leather finishes, and metal combined with slim silhouettes and custom upholstery to create layers of texture and style.

Broadway Furniture: Your Experts

We are a third-generation, family-owned furniture company that has been serving families like yours for over 80 years! We promise that we’ll treat your family like our own.

Knowing about different styles and choosing the one that is right for you are two different things. If you’re still unsure about which style fits you best, head into our store today and speak to one of our experts! Our employees are full of knowledge and are more than happy to help you on your furniture journey.

Recent Posts
3d rendering symbolic people carrying loads to illustrate Post-COVID Furniture Supply ChainInterior of modern living room and kitchen to illustrate sitting room vs living room