• Home Decorating Styles

    There are so many decorating styles to choose from that it's impossible to list them all. Here are some of the possibilities with brief descriptions to help you identify them and decide if that's what you're looking for.

    American Colonial

    A simple style meant to evoke life before the American Revolution. Furniture is simple with little ornamentation. Spindle (or stick) style legs and arms support the furniture. Lighter oaks and maples are used as well as walnut or elm. The furniture may be aged or "distressed" to give it an older look.

    Art Deco

    A sleek and rounded style from the 1920s, the Jazz Age. Soft and rich upholstery from velvet or mohair meets the smoothness of chrome, polished steel, or translucent glass.

    Asian

    Usually, an Asian style refers to 17th or 18th century China when trade routes were being established with the West. Tables and chairs have the curves of pagodas or of yokes worn by oxen. Teak and bamboo or walnut and mahogany may be used, often with mother of pearl inlays. Birds and dragons may also be featured.

    Baroque

    Highly decorative 18th century European style. This style features lots of scroll work and ornamentation on dark woods such as walnut and dark fabric. Baroque styles are rarely reproduced today due to the expense.

    Chippendale

    A sophisticated style named after an 18th century cabinet maker. Mahogany chairs, camel back sofas, and rich materials such as velvet predominate. The legs of the chairs often terminate in a claw and ball foot.

    Contemporary

    Contemporary decorations have clean lines without a lot of ornamentation. The point is not to draw the eye to individual details but to impress with the grand, overall affect of the arrangement. Neutral colors predominate with perhaps a bold, daring piece here or there as a focal point.

    English Country

    The cozy English Country style doesn't hark back to any particular period. But many feel that its natural colors, worn woods, and warm textures call to mind all that is most comfortable and "homey" about England. Overstuffed chairs and sofas predominate.

    French Provincial

    This style is based on the Louis XV rococo style, but simplified. Walnut or beech furniture is usually whitewashed or painted in pastel colors or with floral patterns. Chairs and couches tend to have caning rather than heavy upholstery.

    Lodge

    Picture a cabin in the mountains and you've got a basic idea of the Lodge style. Clean lines with rough-hewn wood are the order of the day. Decorations are kept simple and a little rough-edged. Pine, hickory, and maple kept in a natural state or colored with milk-paint make up the tables and chairs.

    Louis XV

    A rich style with lots of formal patterns and decorations in gold and brass. Chair and table legs are elegantly curved and carved. Richly upholstered couches and chairs are framed with dark woods such as mahogany or painted white and rimmed with brass to dazzle.

    Mission

    Also called "Arts and Crafts." This is a simple, homespun style meant to look as though you hand crafted your own furniture. Simple oak with little ornamentation is the order of the day. Metals such as brass and iron may be used.

    Neo-Classic

    This style is inspired by the ruins of the Roman Empire. The designs feature a strict attention to symmetry and straight, graceful lines and proportions. Carved statuary in the Roman style may also be included. Table tops and other surfaces often feature rich inlay patterns.

    Queen Anne

    Soft and graceful curves predominate in this feminine style. Tables, chairs, and couches often have cabriole legs. Chairs may have a simple fan pattern at the back. The woods tend to be walnut and cherry with perhaps brass handles on the drawers.

    Regency

    This style is also known as "Empire" or "Biedermeier." It came about at the end of the Napoleonic wars. It features simpler furniture, but perhaps with woodland and floral inlay patterns carved on light wood.

    Rustic

    This is similar to the "Lodge" style in being rough-hewn. It makes use of pine, hickory, and maple woods to achieve the effect. The woods are not painted or deeply stained but kept as close to their natural colors as possible.

    Scandinavian

    This style features lighter scale furnishings with simple lines. Straight arms on the chairs, or a perfectly circular, light table top would be in keeping with the Scandinavian style. Laminated birch or walnut can be coupled with natural fiber textiles and firm cushioning to create the desired effect.

    Shaker

    Ladder back chairs and candlestick tables are the two most common illustrations of Shaker design. This style features simple, straight lines without any unnecessary adornment or design. The goal is an elegance that arises out of simplicity and functionality.

    Southwestern

    A rugged look that arose out of the New Mexico and Arizona frontier of the 1800s. The woods of that region are pine and maple, shaped in a simple, rough-hewn way that can be similar to the "Lodge" and "Rustic" styles. Native American designs and themes are often added in to complete the effect.

    Transitional

    A transitional style attempts to take the best of the past and blend it with the contemporary look. The goal is a style that is not overly industrial or sternly simple, but isn't minutely ornate and fussy either.

    Victorian

    Victorian styles are heavily ornamented and minutely designed. The sofas tend to be both overstuffed and oversized. Dark walnut and mahogany were used in Victorian times, but oak may be substituted today for a lighter feel.