Different Styles Of Antique Furniture

How To Identify Different Styles Of Antique Furniture

custom dining table and chairs by carrocel

Need some help with identifying antique furniture? Here is a quick guide to help you distinguish between the different looks. It will also help you pick out the one that closely matches your décor and taste.

  • Jacobean: English style (1640-1700), medieval in appearance with straight lines, rigid designs, sturdy construction, ornate carvings and a dark finish.
  • Early American: Modelled after European furniture styles (1640-1700), particularly from England, France, the Netherlands, Scandinavia and Spain. Rudimentary utilitarian furniture made from local woods.
  • William and Mary: Dutch and Chinese influences, characterized by trumpet turned legs terminating in a ball or Spanish foot, padded or caned chair seats, and Oriental lacquer-work. Named after William and Mary of England (1690-1725).
  • Queen Anne: A graceful and moderately proportioned version of the above style, characterized by cabriole legs terminating in a pad or drake foot, fiddle-back chair back, and bat wing shaped drawer pulls. Named after Queen Anne of England (1700-1755).
  • Colonial: Conservative and less ornate than other styles made from 1700-1780, it combines some characteristics of William and Mary, Queen Anne, and Chippendale.
  • Georgian: A more decorative version of the Queen Anne style with heavier proportions, elaborately carved cabriole legs terminating in a pad or ball-and-claw foot, ornate carvings, pierced back splats, and the use of gilding. Named after George I and George II who reigned over England from 1714-1760.
  • Pennsylvania Dutch: A simple, functional American country style (1720-1830) with Germanic influences and characterized by colourful folk painting on case pieces.
  • Chippendale: Has French, Chinese and Gothic influences. American Chippendale, however, isa more ornate version of the Queen Anne style with cabriole legs, ball-and-claw foot, and broken pediment scroll top on tall case pieces. Named after British designer and cabinet maker Thomas Chippendale (1750-1790).
  • Robert Adam: Named after architect Robert Adam (1760-1795)who designed furniture with classical details to fit the character of his classically designed homes in England.
  • Hepplewhite: Neoclassic, characterized by a delicate appearance, tapered legs and the use of contrasting veneers and inlay. Named after English designer and cabinetmaker George Hepplewhite (1727-1786).
  • Federal: Combines the neoclassic characteristics of Hepplewhite and Sheraton. It is characterized by graceful straight lines, light construction, tapered legs, and the use of inlay, and contrasting veneers. Period – (1789-1823).
  • Sheraton: Also neoclassical with delicate straight lines, light construction, contrasting veneers and neoclassical motifs and ornamentation. Named after English designer Thomas Sheraton (1785-1820).
  • Duncan Phyfe: Considered by some as an adaptation and refinement of Adam, Sheraton, Hepplewhite, and Empire type of furniture. It is characterized by carved or reeded legs and neoclassic motifs. Named after American cabinetmaker Duncan Phyfe (1795-1848).
  • American Empire: Patterned after the French Empire with classical influences. It is moderately proportioned with classical ornamentation, coarse carving, and a dark finish. Period – (1800-1840).
  • Shaker: Simple and functional, produced by the religious group, the United Society of Believers in self-contained communities within the United States. It is characterized by straight tapered legs, woven square chair seats and mushroom shaped wooden knobs. Period – (1820-1860)
  • Victorian: The first furniture style of mass production (1840-1910), influenced by gothic forms with heavy proportions, dark finish, elaborate carving, and ornamentation. Named for Queen Victoria of England.
  • Arts and Craft: The Arts and Craft style (1880-1910) also referred to as the Mission style is characterized by simple utilitarian design and construction.
  • Art Nouveau: A naturalistic style (1890-1910)characterized by intricately detailed patterns and curving lines.

Tips on How to Style Your Home with Antique Furniture

When buying antique furniture in Toronto, it is vital that you focus on the piece itself and how it will fit into your overall home décor. You could have a dozen pieces of furniture that are stunning in their own right, but when staged together in one room, they might not gel the way you want them to. Here are a few tips for styling your Toronto home with antique furniture so that everything comes together in a cohesive and stylish way.

Statement Pieces

A statement piece is the focus of any room, and your antique furniture can serve this purpose beautifully. As the focal point, this piece should draw the eye immediately. For example, a large, ornate dresser or an antique buffet can make a stunning statement that anchors your room and ties everything else together.

Accent Pieces

Accent pieces are smaller furniture items that complement the statement piece and round out the room. For example, a small end table or a delicate chair can add just the right touch to a room anchored by a statement piece like an antique dresser. Even something like a small rug or a piece of wall art can serve as an accent piece if it ties in with the overall aesthetic of the room.


Layering is key when creating a stylish and cohesive look with your antique furniture. In any room, you should have different levels. For example, a low coffee table in front of a couch with end tables on either side. You could also set up a dresser with a mirror above it and smaller items like lamps or vases on top of the dresser. Layering gives a room dimension and interest and helps to create a well-rounded look.

The Antique Home

There’s nothing wrong with filling out your rooms with antique furniture as long as every piece complements the overall design. Some people might be afraid of creating a space that’s too old-fashioned, but the use of antiques actually lends a warm and inviting atmosphere to a home.


If you have any antique collections, such as china, silver, or paintings, make sure to display them in a way that complements your furnishings. For example, you might want to hang a collection of plates on a wall above an antique buffet or on a shelf above a fireplace. Or you could display a collection of silver in a glass-front cabinet. Doing so creates a beautiful and stylish vignette that adds personality to your home.

Mixing Styles & Periods

One of the most important things to remember when styling your home with antique furniture is that there are no hard-and-fast rules. Mixing modern and antique furniture can create a look that is uniquely your own. For example, you might pair an antique Victorian couch with a mid-century modern coffee table.

Distinguishing between the different styles of antique furniture can be challenging especially if this is your first experience with vintage items. Consider going to an established antique dealer or furniture store to for the best advice and value. If you are in Toronto or the GTA, get in touch with Carrocel Furniture Store.

19 Response(s) for “Different Styles Of Antique Furniture

  • dave says:

    i have an antique table i was wondering if you could identify the era?

    1. Carrocel Interiors says:

      Hello Dave, please email photos of the table to [email protected] and we will take a look!

  • Bill Herrera says:

    Hello. Can you complement a ball and claw formal dining table with French chairs with cabriole legs, or are these two styles that do not work together? Thank you!

  • Nancy says:

    I have a desk i would like help in identifing it
    This is the stamp on back
    DESK No.88.

    1. Carrocel Interiors says:

      Hello Nancy, please email us some photos also a photo of the stamp and we can take a look!
      [email protected]

      Thank you.

  • Camille Clark says:

    I have a dining table and chairs that was gifted to me and I’m considering selling it but I have no real idea about what style it is. I believe it’s over 100 years old and I know the chairs were recovered about 50 years ago and the original fabric of the chairs was red velvet horse hair. Also the table has two leaves stamped Watertown slide. Could I send you photos of the table and chairs possibly for some information?
    Thank you!

    1. Carrocel Interiors says:

      Thank you for your post. Please feel free to email photos to [email protected] and we can try to help out!

  • Laura says:

    I have a mahogany chiffarobe I need help identifying. I am interested in the type/ period of this beautiful piece.

    1. Carrocel Interiors says:

      Hello Laura, thank you for your comment.
      We don’t offer official appraisal or research of your item but can point you in the right direction if you email us a photo.
      Thank you!

  • sharon says:

    Wonderful information, thank you. I have a piece of furniture i would like to ask you about.

    1. Carrocel Interiors says:

      Thank you for the kind words!
      To find more about your piece I recommend contacting an official furniture appraisal service or trying to find something comparable on google for more information.

  • Sheila Lynn michaudC says:

    I have an oak two piece 7 drawer highboy dresser I’m wondering if you can identify what time period, style it is. It was given to me. It is used. I’m looking to maybe sell it.

    1. Carrocel Interiors says:

      Hello and thank you for your comment. While we don’t offer appraisal and researching services at Carrocel you can try using google image search with a photo of your cabinet. I would also suggest searching online furniture auction houses to see if they have appraisal services. http://www.1stdibs.com has many antique pieces to help you source information. Best of luck with your search!

  • Suzanne Auburn says:

    Need help in identifying what style my bed and dresser are. Am looking to purchase a side table or two that would compliment.

    1. Carrocel Interiors says:

      Hello Suzanne thank you for your comment. While we don’t offer appraisal and researching services at Carrocel you can try using google image search with a photo of your piece. I would also suggest searching online furniture auction houses to see if they have appraisal services. http://www.1stdibs.com has many antique pieces to help you source information. Best of luck with your search!

  • jude says:

    What is the style of the dining room chairs in the pic at the top?

    1. Carrocel Interiors says:

      Hello Jude, the photo at the start of the blog is American Traditional/Chippendale Style Chairs. The photo at the top banner of our website is more Mid-Century Modern.

  • Joanna says:

    What a great site! Would you have any idea where I could find this kind of help in South Africa? Thank you

    1. Carrocel Interiors says:

      Hello Joanna, thank you for your kind words!
      I am not very familiar with the market in that region, sorry!

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