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What Is Your Furniture Style?

Wonder what your style is? There are, of course, an infinite number of interior design or furniture styles, from Colonial to Contemporary, from Western to Feng Shui. An endless array of possibilities, with lots of cross over between styles. However, we can distinguish between four basic styles: Classic, Contemporary, Old European and Plantation...and using our handy and humorous guide, you should be able to determine the furniture style that is best for you
Four Basic Styles:


A broad-sweeping category that includes design styles from Traditional to Mission, Classic Design is distinguished by clean lines, minimal ornamentation, and high functionality.

How do you know you are an affecianado of Classic design? You like anything with these words in it:

English Cottage

While you don't like to buy a complete room, you do like to buy matching sets, i.e. dining table & chairs, or bed, dresser & mirror
You only decorate with white lights during the holidays (with some silver or gold thrown in)
You love Ann Taylor, Liz Clairborne, Ralph Lauren & Calvin Klein
You agree that nothing good in music has happened in the last 30 years
Khaki isn't just a fabric. It's a lifestyle.

Classic furniture pieces have some of these characteristics:

Hardware: Pewter, Rubbed Bronze, Old Iron, Aged Bronze, Antique Brass

Finishes: Broad range, from painted finishes to Walnut to Cherry

Elements: Medium Distressing, hand-planed tops, some painted highlights

Classic Manufacturers or Collections You Will Find at Carolina Rustica:

Hickory White Furniture

Fine Furniture Design

Berhnardt Furniture Vintage Patina Collection

Lexington Furniture Barclay Square Collection



Contemporary means generally the same thing to most people: distinct, sharp lines sometimes in contrast with geometric or curved elements. Nearly no ornamentation or extra design elements, with smooth surfaces and a sensibility for space preservation

How do you know you are crazy for contemporary?

You like anything with these words in it:

Feng Shui

You know the difference between Classic Contemporary and Modern, Bauhaus and Retro
You know that Mies Van Der Rohe, Le Corbusier, Milo Baughman, and Marcel Breuer are not soccer players.
Your favorite cartoon is "The Jetsons"
You buy your furniture one piece at a time, but you already know it will all pull together
Your cocktails of choice are not colors found in nature
You would take ANY job in the Guggenheim if it were offered.

Contemporary furniture pieces have some of these characteristics:

Hardware: Polished Nickel, Satin Nickel, Glossy Black and White

Finishes: High Sheen, in white, black or metallic finishes.

Elements: Distressed? Perish the thought! Smooth surfaces all the way. If its distressed, it means it fell out a window accidentally.

Contemporary Manufacturers or Collections You Will Find at Carolina Rustica:

Thayer Coggin
Hickory White Stratos
Lexington Home Brands 11 South
Johnston Casuals


Old European encompasses all that is Southern European, one of the strongest design movements in both furniture design, architecture, the culinary arts, and Rosetta Stone commercials. Distinguishing characteristics are elaborate, carved detail with heavy ornamentation, and large scaling.

How Do You Know You are Ecstatic for European Design?

Any design with these words will grab your attention:

Tuscany / Tuscano
Provencal / Provence
Castillian / Valencia
Monte Carlo

Manor or Estate or Empire


Any European city with the word "Collection" after it

You speak French to the server at Au Bon Pain, even though she has no idea what you are talking about.
When your time comes, you hope it is in Room 14 of the Uffizi
You know that Louis Phillipe was a better furniture designer than he was a king
You will sit through "National Lampoon's European Vacation" just for the architecture
You buy your furniture by complete collections to fill an entire room

Old European pieces have some of these characteristics:

Hardware: Heavily ornamented Antique Brass or Bronze, cast using the lost-wax process

Finishes: Primarily dark finishes such as Mahogany, Walnut, and Dark Cherry, juxtaposed with Gold Leafing and Antiquing

Elements: Mixed use of stone such as granite or marble with fairly heavy wood distressing.

Use of inlay veneers for further detailing

Old European Manufacturers or Collections You Will Find at Carolina Rustica:

A.R.T. Furniture Grand European
AICO Tuscano
Hekman European Legacy
AICO Villa Valencia
Emerson Et Cie Palermo Collection
Hooker Furniture Villagio
AICO Chateau Beauvais


Plantation is a hugely popular design category that based on a fusion of European Colonial and Indigenous Design. With a broad geographical influence from the Caribbean, West Africa, India, and the Indonesian Archipelago, Plantation design has come a long way into mainstream design. Most major furniture manufacturers have some plantation-inspired collection.

How Do You Know You are a Pushover for Plantation?

Any design with these words will grab your attention:


You buy your furniture by the piece and your design tastes can sometimes be eclectic, but works beautifully as a whole (the live monkey you bought to accessorize your chandelier is a notable exception)
You know Tommy Bahama would take Panama Jack to the cleaners if they had a dance-off
You watch Out of Africa for the furniture, not Meryl Streep or Robert Redford.

Plantation Design has some of these characteristics:

Hardware: Combination of Antique Brass or organic materials such as shells

Finishes: Primarily dark finishes such as Mahogany and teak

Elements: Use of organic materials is one of the most significant hallmarks of plantation design, such as woven grass materials and naturally occurring material such as crushed coconut, penshell, seashells and leather.

Plantation Style Manufacturers or Collections You Will Find at Carolina Rustica:

Lexington Home Brands Tommy Bahama
Bauer International Furniture
American Drew Antigua Collection
Padmas Plantation (all groups)
Palecek Furniture (all groups)

Of course, there are a hundred other popular styles, and the general categories above just scratch the surface of interior design categories. We did not include Asian, Mountain/Lodge, Western/Ranch, Shabby Chic, or Naturalistic/Organic...but that is the fun part about figuring out your own furniture design style. Its ever-evolving to reflect your own personal style!

Richard Sexton founded Carolina Rustica 16 years ago after a one year trip around the world to celebrate a voluntary departure from the corporate life.


About the Editor

By Courtney Lynne I am an analyst by profession and trend researching is my passion. I also loves to share my knowledge. Get me on Google + and Twitter Find us on Google+

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