Australian Antique Furniture
There are plenty of different styles of furniture on the market, but with so many terms getting thrown around it’s hard to know what is what! Here we have broken down the most commonly used terms to give you a hand with choosing your ideal furniture style.
Read on to get tips on how to recognize the differences between furniture styles that are often confused:
Plus we’ve pulled extra information for you on each of the styles.
Antique vs. Vintage
Antique furniture includes pieces from an earlier period. It is often crafted out of wood and its age, condition, unique features and rarity determine how collectible the piece is and therefore, how high its value. Genuine antiques are, by definition, at least 100 years old and often have to be purchased from experienced dealers to guarantee authenticity.
Vintage furniture on the other hand is between twenty and one hundred years old and is easily recognisable as belonging to a particular period within that time. Once you know what you’re looking for, spotting it is easier than it sounds!
Traditional vs. Rustic
Traditional furniture is formal furniture from the Victorian period. It combines features from the Queen Anne period – graceful and elaborately decorated, Chippendale style – artistic embellishment and straightened out lines and Sheraton style – delicate pieces with tapered legs and contrasting inlays. Together this creates a comfortable and warm environment with hand crafted, dark timber pieces, over stuffed, plush sofas and elegant fabrics.
Art Deco vs. Retro
Art Deco is an eclectic style that combines Machine Age imagery and materials with traditional crafts. The style is characterized by geometric and angular shapes, materials like chrome, glass, shiny fabrics, mirrors and mirror tiles as well as stylized images of aeroplanes, cars and skyscrapers. With the success of The Great Gatsby movie and TV series like Boardwalk Empire, Art Deco is back in full force.
Modern vs. Contemporary
French Provincial has been a popular style for interior decorating for a number of years, and continues to be popular for many homeowners. French Provincial decor is inspired by the styles popular in the French provinces in the 17th and 18th century. It is the perfect balance of the luxury and ornate craftsmanship found in the lavish estates juxtaposed with the laid back style of French country homes.
The furniture of this style is mainly timber, either stained or painted in white, muted grey, taupe, deep red or duck egg blue. Often the finish of the paint work is distressed, giving a worn patina to the furniture. Timber pieces like drawers and buffets feature ornate moldings and brass or glass handles. Upholstered pieces will often feature piping on the cushions and soft damask or floral motifs. The combination of natural materials with elegant finishes creates femininity and longevity for French Provincial furniture.
Modern furniture is furniture produced from the late 19th century on wards, under the influence of the Modernist movement. It is distinctive and highly prized- and very collectible.
When this furniture was first produced, it was a shock to furniture fans. It was a big departure from more traditional furniture forms - now Antique forms - that used heavy, dark wood and ornate carving.
The designers of the Classic Modernist movement used new materials- steel, molded plywood and even plastic to create furniture that was dramatically different. A chair suddenly mimicked the curves of the human body. A coffee table might now have one elegant curving central leg rather than the traditional four legs. A dining table might now be made from glass with a mirror-like chrome frame. A couch or sofa was suddenly angular, and covered in leather.
These radical changes heralded an entirely new period of design that still appears fresh and bold today. Today, the majority of Modern furniture pieces on the market are reproductions. These can be very close to the originals and can be hard to spot. The major difference here is price. You’ll easily figure out if what you’re being offered is genuine - if it sounds too good to be too, it probably is.
Despite that if you’re comfortable with a reproduction and the originals are out of your reach - and you’re comfortable with the ethics of purchasing a knock-off design- you can always fake it till you make it! Otherwise you might want to start with purchasing low-end originals, or smaller fixtures like a lamp or clock, while you save up for that original modernist piece.
Contemporary style furniture can be really difficult to define, apart from saying it is furniture designed and made in recent times, and by that might mean anything from the late 20th century up until today! The level of creativity and the variety of materials available mean that contemporary furniture, which might also be referred to as modern furniture, is unlikely to be pigeon holed. Despite this, it is probably fair to say that contemporary or modern furniture often looks ‘clean’ – lines are simple, uncomplicated, and the overall appearance tends to be fresh. For this reason, contemporary and modern furniture can lend itself beautifully to other interior design periods; it tends not to overpower rooms and can look equally at home in retro surrounds as it might alongside art deco furnishings, for example.
A significant benefit of contemporary furniture, apart from its ability to blend with and complement an array of other periods, is its widespread appeal. If for example, you intend to furnish an investment property, then it would be advisable to err on the side of caution and seek out contemporary or modern furniture. It is a similar logic to that of painting the inside of an investment property white; it’s more of a blank canvas that has a stronger chance of appealing to a greater cross section of the population.
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