Furniture is an all-encompassing term used for functional objects that we sit or lie on, or store things in. Furniture is part of the furnishings in a home and can serve both aesthetic and functional purposes, and in most cases, it does exactly that. Examples of furniture include:


Furniture Throughout History

Because furniture has been in existence for centuries, there are many styles of furniture as well as style revivals. Early furniture styles in the United States include:

  • Chippendale
  • Empire
  • Hepplewhite
  • Louis XV
  • Queen Anne
  • Sheraton
  • William and Mary.



Furniture is also categorized by periods such as:

  • Art Deco
  • Art Nouveau
  • Colonial
  • Eastlake
  • Federal
  • Mid-Century Modern
  • Mission
  • Victorian.

Each style and period reflects the contemporary style of the day that was reflected in paintings, wallpaper patterns, paint colors, and decorative furnishings and objects. Each furniture style also has a distinct look to it, whether it's the bun feet of the William and Mary period, the shield back of the Hepplewhite chair, the curvilinear legs on a Queen Anne desk, or the ornate embellishments that are characteristic of Victorian furniture, each furniture style is unique.

Furniture Today

In some instances, furniture is more decorative than functional. For example, many pieces of mid-century modern furniture (circa 1950 to 1970) appear to be more a work of art than a place of comfort and rest. Furniture, as with everything else today is much more diverse style-wise than it was in earlier years. Nowadays just about anything goes, from Danish Modern to antique furniture to period reproductions.

Purchasing Furniture

The key to buying good furniture that will last throughout your lifetime is quality. It is important to be familiar with the types of wood that furniture is made from. Furniture can be constructed from many types of wood, ranging from beechwood (light), to cherry (medium), to ebony (dark), and everything in between. There are also hardwoods such as oak and cherry, and softwoods such as pine.

Most quality furniture made today is constructed by coating the solid wood frame with a higher grade or fancy wood veneer. Other construction features to look for include mortis, tenon, dowel joints, and sturdy table legs reinforced with triangular-shaped blocks of wood for stability. For chairs and other upholstered furniture, inspect the bottom for superior spring coils that are hand tied eight ways.