When do you think about furniture what type springs to mind? Is it the different pieces of furniture that fit in each room, the style of furniture, or whether it’s antique or new, or matching sets and individual pieces?

There is so much choice out there today, it would be easy to overfill your house, especially if you are a lover of a well-crafted bit of furniture or coffee tables made from amazing chunks of wood. 

What does furniture say about its owner?

Believe it or not, furniture is a sign of an affluent society. The richer a society the more elaborate and expensive furniture becomes. Around the 17th century with the influence of Louis XV and XVI furniture became a status symbol with the rich and influential instructing craftsmen to fashion statement pieces to show off in their homes. What could be more a statement of your education, status, and wealth than this fabulous overstated French bookshelf?

Is your furniture for a purpose or pure aesthetics?

Prior to the industrial age, furniture was very utilitarian, people slept on cow skins and grasses, and later blankets, seating tended to be simple stools or benches. People didn’t really have any belongings as shopping as we know it didn’t exist so wardrobes, shelves, dressers, cabinets, chests were not common items in homes. The types of furniture the common people had served a necessary purpose. 

Today our furniture still serves a purpose, but the type of furniture we buy says a lot about us, it reflects our status, our wealth, our worldview, beliefs, style, and even age! We have the ability and luxury to chose what furniture we fill our houses with. I just love this little French style console! I would make a special space in my house, just so that I could own it. It’s so dainty and elegant but for me, doesn’t serve much of a purpose!

Do you love to show off your treasures?

I love different pieces of furniture; I often wish I had a bigger house so I could buy the many interesting bits I come across. I would say display chests are my favorite piece as I have many types! But anything with natural wood, that is an unusual shape, looks old or could be an amazing renovation project will catch my eye. 

Shabby Chic became all the rage ten years or so ago with people rescuing old but lovely bits of furniture and upcycling them, keeping a sort of old, but loved the worn finish. Contrary to popular belief Shabby Chic is not a type of French furniture; or even based on the French styles of furniture, it was born in the USA in 1989.

Your Living Room furniture 

Possibly the most visited room in your house is your living room, it’s where you entertain, visit with family, relax and watch TV.  It’s important you enjoy that space and make it an expression of yourself. The furniture you choose needs to be comfortable, aesthetically pleasing, and fulfill its purpose.

The most important piece of furniture to choose is your couch or sofa. There are literally hundreds of styles, colors, and types of sofas to choose from. To help with the decision making, it’s useful to decide how many people you need to seat, the space in the room, your overall color scheme and the shape of the couch you want.  The basic types of the sofa are two, seater or three-seater, corner couch or a sectional seating arrangement. 

Colour is important; do you want your settee to blend in or to be a statement piece? I love this royal blue couch; it would be a fabulous accent piece in a light and airy living room.

But is it a sofa, couch or settee? Today these three words work almost synonymously. The word sofa comes from the ancient Arabic word, ‘suffah’ meaning ‘part of the floor raised up a foot or two and covered in cushions and used for sitting.’ This is probably the most communal meaning of the word; it connotes social and relaxed times. 

Couch comes from an old French word ‘couche’ used in old English meaning, ‘to lie down’, and settee comes from the old English word ‘setl’ which described long benches with high backs and arms. In fact, my dad used to say, “settle yourself here”. Both settees and couches were designed to seat two or possibly three people.

Chairs Types and Styles

If you have a large family or frequent guests, it’s a good idea to invest in additional seating. Again, there are so many types of chairs to choose, from so you really need to decide what is needed. Is it an occasional chair or a comfortable armchair or a wonderful statement piece like this fabulous chaise lounge?

Chairs became common in the 16th century but have been around since Egyptian times. Originally chairs were covered in cloth and leather and made from carved wood. They were very low to the ground, unlike today’s chairs.

Types of chairs to choose from range from an old-fashioned rocking chair to a matching set of armchair recliners. However, you could also choose a very classy winged back chair or a simple tub chair.  The chair can be an eye-catching addition to your room if you carefully chose the style to complement the furniture you already have, or it could blend in, providing unobtrusive extra seating.

Coffee Tables and Display Pieces

To finish off your room you will most likely want a display cabinet or chest and a coffee table.   A coffee table is simply a small table to place beverages, book and magazines on, so they are in reach when you need them. Many coffee tables are made of beautiful natural wood and are one of two inches lower than your couch cushions. They often have storage beneath them like this lovely blue coffee table.

 They tend to be a focal point in the room, so choose something special, perhaps like this gorgeous French style table. You can even dress it with funky and unusual things like this honey gift set, a perfect addition to a cup of coffee, who else would have thought of that? Or you can keep it simple like the example below.

Lastly, you may want a display cabinet or chest to really show off your personality. You can go way out on this and have something really striking such as a Tibetan chest, a Korean Blanket box or a French-style glass cabinet. All would generate conversation and really add interest to your room. As long as you don’t overdo the accent pieces you could choose from so many types and styles of furniture to make a wonderful room you can be proud of.