Furniture in America has quite the history. Even in the modern age, Rentan furniture styles have changed dramatically, often reflecting cultural and political and societal shifts within the nation.
The Shaker Period: 1820 – 1860
Named after a religious movement which transfixed many people in early America, the culture of this community aimed at simplicity. The lifestyle, of course, was one focused on spiritual enlightenment and a connection with God through service and obedience. Obviously, then, there was no need for decorative furniture, particularly since it had a very specific function and place within society. A basic chair and square table might be a simple way to describe what you might find during the shaker period, though the seat might feature woven or can materials.
The Victorian Period: 1840 – 1910
Obviously named after the English Queen, this period in the history of American furniture was characterized by opulence and decadence. Coming out of the simplistic, restricted mindset of the Shaker period, furniture build during the Victorian period was formal, elegant, and elaborate. The upholstery, for example, reflected wood stylings and needlepoint, tapestry like what you might find in grand European castles. Ash, maple, oak, and black walnut woods—with rosewood inlays—were common at this time.
The Mission Period: 1880 – 1920
Also known as the Arts and Craft period, this era symbolized another minimalist movement in the evolution of furniture in the United States. While leather was a new and common upholstery of the time, the rest of the furniture designed during this time was practical and simple. Also, lacquer, shellac, and wax finishes were growing in popularity.
The Art Nouveau Period: 1890 – 1910
Within the Mission period, the meta-era of Art Nouveau saw growth in elaborate ornamental carvings with veneer inlays. This was a great time of experimentation with new techniques and materials including velvet, linen, tapestries, and leather.
The Colonial and Federal Period: 1920 – 1950
Also called the “Traditional Revival” period, this short generation marked the revival of styles from much earlier periods. These earlier periods—most notably from England and French influence—relied heavily on intricate veneers and inlays as well as shaped turnings.
The Modern and Post-Modern Periods: 1950 – present
Finally, the modern and post-modern periods feature far more interesting and exotic styles than ever before. This period, actually, is more characterized by furniture of Asian and African influence than other continental styles.