Learning Furniture Styles

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Forum topic by Scott posted 08-21-2012 04:35 PM 1307 views 0 times favorited 12 replies Add to Favorites Watch
View Scott's profile


121 posts in 2464 days

08-21-2012 04:35 PM

Topic tags/keywords: question

I’m just getting starting in woodworking with some small projects, but I’m ramping up to the point where I plan to build furniture.

One thing I’d like to do is study the various furniture styles and get a good background on what defines certain styles, and the history of how they came to be.

I’m in the Rochester, NY area and I’m wondering if anybody knows of any such classes on such things, or if maybe there’s some good books that could be recommended.


12 replies so far

View Doss's profile


779 posts in 2504 days

#1 posted 08-21-2012 04:40 PM

Wow, I wouldn’t know where to start. This could be a very long class if you found one that did teach it though. I learned a lot about the different eras and styles through my classes in architecture.

I’d suggest just looking up different styles of furniture in Google and starting there. That could teach you a lot very quickly. Or you could post pictures of furniture you like here and we could probably identify the style and point you in the correct direction.

Good luck on finding a course to teach you this.

-- "Well, at least we can still use it as firewood... maybe." - Doss

View Loren's profile


10477 posts in 3887 days

#2 posted 08-21-2012 04:47 PM

Lots of books at larger local libraries on this topic.

You might want to learn about American furniture styles
first. Queen Anne, Shaker and Craftsman are probably
the most influential of American furniture styles.

View Scott's profile


121 posts in 2464 days

#3 posted 08-21-2012 05:10 PM

Thanks Doss. I figured a class was unlikely, but thought I’d ask. I never went to college so I wasn’t sure what might be out there in regards to this specific topic. Although I didn’t consider looking into architecture as a source for such knowledge. I know there’s a lot of books on that topic at my local library.

I also like the idea of starting with a particular style Loren. I’ve heard/seen Shaker quite a bit, although if asked to compare and contract with another style I’d be lost. Maybe I’ll start with that as my reference point and start doing comparisons against other styles I see.

Thanks for the ideas guys, and if anybody has anything else please let me know.

View gepatino's profile


217 posts in 2364 days

#4 posted 08-21-2012 05:24 PM

I’m an absolute beginner, and your topic made me curious about styles. A quick search on Google and found this site that seems to be useful to identify the different styles:

Of course, I can’t how reliable they information is… but it’s a start.


View Scott's profile


121 posts in 2464 days

#5 posted 08-21-2012 06:04 PM

Thanks for the link. I’ve run across that site before, and I think it’s clipart drove me away at the time. Reading through it does look like a good starting point on things. Even if the accompanying graphics aren’t great, I can do some image searches to get better examples and delve deeper into wikipedia.

View Doss's profile


779 posts in 2504 days

#6 posted 08-21-2012 06:45 PM

Don’t feel ignorant about not knowing everything there is to know about styles. There are so many with so many details that it’s nearly impossible to truly define their modern derivative due to the “cross-breeding” of styles. At most, try to take away the large details and a basic sense of their forms.

I specialize (as definition of my assessment of my knowledge) in mid-century modern, modern, minimalism, Scandinavian, Danish, and some of the influenced contemporary styles. They are all closely related but I still do not know everything about these styles. This is with roughly a decade of experience (though I don’t really approach the study of these styles as a scholar because I don’t feel that is necessary for what I use them for… my designs).

So, when you find a style you like, stick with it and try to find out as much as possible about it. It helps to learn about the eras that preceded and followed it (or may have run concurrently to it). This will help you relate details and realize differences. Remember that styles may define (or be defined by) an era and, as such, can be defined by several different forms, techniques, and even sub-styles due to the many notable designers that may have become associated with that era.

-- "Well, at least we can still use it as firewood... maybe." - Doss

View MonteCristo's profile


2099 posts in 2428 days

#7 posted 08-22-2012 03:41 AM

There are lots of good books on this topic, some of which are not that expensive used. I would use GOOGLE to checkout online bookstores, including AMAZON.

-- Dwight - "Free legal advice available - contact Dewey, Cheetam & Howe""

View CplSteel's profile


142 posts in 2404 days

#8 posted 08-22-2012 04:56 AM

Magazines. Look at interior design and architecture magazines. Buying 5 or 6 of them will give you so much to look at and then you can focus in on the styles you prefer. Trying to get a general understanding of all, or many styles would require interior design classes

View dhazelton's profile


2805 posts in 2536 days

#9 posted 08-22-2012 12:53 PM

I say go find a the fast vanishing library or book store. Must be a Barnes and Noble in Rochester.

View Scott's profile


121 posts in 2464 days

#10 posted 08-22-2012 05:20 PM

Thanks Rick, I’m placing an order for that book now. That’s one thing I was hoping for was an actual book recommendation!

Thanks CplSteel, I spent some time at the library today reading through a design book that gave lots of interesting info. As as added bonus I think I’ll end up becoming fluent in French if I keep reading those books. :)

Doss, I figure I have about 30+ good years left, so hopefully I’ll make some good progress in that amount of time. I’m not expecting to get there tomorrow or this week, just looking for a good direction, which I think I’ve gotten from all you folks. I’m just the kind of person that wants to learn everything about what I’m doing. And even though this is a hobby for me, it’s the main one so I’m going at it like it’s my actual profession.

View james49petter's profile


1 post in 2323 days

#11 posted 09-12-2012 03:56 AM

Working with wood is simply an implementation of one idea. Many different types of wood are being used for art and craft work on wood. Rustic wood is the keyword, which is being used mostly for this purpose.

View Woodknack's profile


12468 posts in 2620 days

#12 posted 09-12-2012 04:32 AM

Not definitive but you’ll really like this:

There are so many styles Shaker, Craftsman, Danish, Hepplewhite, Queen Anne, Greene & Greene, Chippendale, Sheraton, Modern, and more.

-- Rick M,

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