The 12 Periods of American Furniture Style and Design

If you’ve ever watched programs on television that cover antiques, interior design, or even house hunting in general then you’ve invariably heard terms like victorian, colonial, or the currently popular term mid-century modern.  In fact, you’ve probably heard so many different terms to describe furniture and the periods in which they were built or modeled after that it seems the styles are never ending.  But take heart:  unless you’re working or dealing with furniture from across the pond, there are only 12 truly distinct periods that define American furniture-making.

  1. Early American 1640 – 1700
  2. Colonial 1700 – 1780
  3. Pennsylvania Dutch 1720 – 1830
  4. Federal 1780 – 1820
  5. Sheraton 1780 – 1820
  6. American Empire 1800 – 1840
  7. Shaker 1820 – 1860
  8. Victorian 1840 – 1910
  9. Arts and Crafts 1880 – 1920
  10. Art Nouveau 1890 – 1910
  11. Traditional Revival 1920 – 1950
  12. Modern and Post Modern 1950 – present

The listed period dates are, clearly, general in nature and at times overlap with the previous or following style.  So knowing the date of manufacture may be a good starting point in identifying the style of a particular piece; however, knowing the distinct characteristics of the individual furniture styles is actually much more helpful.  And that information, my friends, will require more in-depth discussion. 🙂 So be sure to come back here often because I’ll be blogging on each of these 12 furniture styles as individual posts in the future.

Happy furniture flipping, everyone!

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