Modern Furniture Styles
Modern style furniture offers important benefits to the refinisher. It’s easy to find, often for free. Even when you do have to purchase it, you’ll pay much less than you would for an antique piece of comparable quality. And once you have it, you can do what you want with it- no worrying that you’ll destroy its value by removing the old finish or applying the new one. This alone gives many hobbyists the confidence to create one-of-a-kind works of art with their re-purposed modern style furniture.
Finally, the condition of modern pieces is usually better, just because they’re newer. A full restoration probably will involve refinishing and maybe replacing some hardware, while on other pieces it can be much more involved.
Even if you’re a devoted lover of antiques, carefully chosen modern pieces may have a place in your home. Use them as a temporary fix while you search for that perfect original, refinish them to mimic older pieces, or simply enjoy the visual interest that a blend of attractive, yet eclectic items can create.
It’s important to understand that modern furniture styles are not “one size fits all.” In fact, there’s something for almost any taste. You can consider this page an overview; just follow the links for more detailed descriptions.
Traditional furniture is best suited for formal living spaces. Wood is usually stained instead of painted, and a variety of finishes are available, usually in darker tones. What’s considered “traditional” depends heavily on the manufacturer. Many furniture companies call ornately carved reproductions “traditional,” while others favor mission style or traditional ethnic furniture for these lines.
Casual furnishings, sometimes called comfort style furniture, are designed to be used. There are no hard and fast style rules, here: a wide range of shapes, colors, and finishes are available for decorators taking the casual route. The only thing that seems to be universal is upholstery- even bar stools and basic kitchen chairs offer some padding to make sitting more enjoyable.
Country Style Furniture
Country style furniture can be traced back to the 1700s, when country folk created their own interpretations of the furniture found in Court. Country English style furniture took root in England and the Americas, while Country French style furniture was limited, for the most part, to France and the countries that surrounded it. Today, replicas are abundant, and anyone can decorate, fairly inexpensively, with “shabby chic” cottage style furniture. Faux painting techniques can even help new furniture take on a charmingly well-worn appearance.
The term modern furniture typically refers to the mid-century modern designs created in the 50s, 60s, and 70s. Teak, chrome, and vinyl were common materials used in the construction of this type of furniture. Lines were clean and sleek, or sometimes altogether weird. Decorating your whole home with this type of furniture may be overkill, but it’s an excellent option for accent pieces in the living room, kitchen, or dining room, for decorating kids’ rooms, or for specialty rooms, like a game room.
“Contemporary” doesn’t refer to a specific style, but rather what is in vogue at a specific moment in time. While Georgian and Colonial styles were both considered contemporary in their heydays, tastes have changed. Today, contemporary furniture styles encompass a wide range of colors and materials. Contemporary style furniture, like its close relative, mid-century modern furniture, is minimalist, with clean lines and minimal decoration. Many designers are turning toward natural, sustainable or recycled materials for their creations. There is also a greater emphasis on comfort and function than ever before. The main drawback to purchasing contemporary furniture to refinish is that many pieces are not as durable as older furniture. In a society where people don’t have much time to devote to maintaining and repairing old things, even furniture has become a disposable commodity. If you are lucky enough to find a well-made piece, snap it up. Refinishing it will likely be a quick job.