20 Furniture Pieces That Never Go Out of Style
Trends are fun, but fleeting. Design your space with pieces that stand the test of time. You'll have no regrets in investing in these timeless furnishings that will be just as stylish 30 years from now as they are today.
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Introduced in 17th Century England, the high back and curved sides of wingback chairs were designed to protect the occupant from drafts while curled up fireside. Today, wingback chairs are incredibly versatile. No longer relegated to hearthside use, they fit needs throughout the home – captain's chairs in the dining room or a cozy reading nook in the bedroom. Here, an estate-sale find serves its original purpose – super cozy chair by the fire – but gets a big dose of contemporary style with a graphic striped black-and-white print and painted black legs.
Though first used in the Windsor Castle gardens in 18th century England, it didn't take long for these light and portable chairs to find themselves in even the quaintest of homes. The design became so widespread that it crossed the Atlantic and became a mainstay in the American colonies, starting in Philadelphia in the late 1700s. The Windsor chair has remained a staple in country and cottage styles, reflecting its origins, but now is easily mixed into other design styles thanks to its simple lines and elegant silhouette.
Often credited to Lord Phillip Stanhope, the 4th Earl of Chesterfield, and definitely the namesake, the Chesterfield sofa is a timeless addition to any living space. Technically, any sofa with an equal back and arms can be called a Chesterfield, but most often the name evokes the distinctive button-tufted upholstery, rolled arms and low seat base. The stately contours combined with the low profile creates a refined yet relaxed look, the perfect mix of formal and casual. Although traditionally in leather, Chesterfield sofas are now upholstered in a variety of fabrics, from velvet to linen.
The Tulip Table
Eero Saarinen's goal of eliminating the "slum of legs" found under four-legged chairs and tables resulted in The Pedestal Collection. Also known as the Tulip Collection because of its likeness to the flower, the pieces are a hallmark of midcentury modern design. The Tulip table though seems to hold a favorite position because of its ability to blend with any design style, in any room. The iconic sculptural curves fit a wide range of table sizes, from coffee and side tables to nightstands and dining tables, both indoors and out.
There is no rug more classic than an Oriental one. The mere look evokes pure timelessness. Surely the oldest furnishing on our list, authentic Oriental rugs are hand knotted in Middle East and Asian countries, where they date back to 200 C.E. Nowadays, these rugs fit in any room style, from contemporary to traditional. Grounding a space, pulling a color scheme together and adding softness under our toes, rugs are the work horses and the statement-makers of our rooms.
A quick scroll through Instagram and you'll see tufted headboards are still beloved by designers and homeowners alike. Many of our classic furniture pieces come from actual needs centuries ago (Drafts were real. Be grateful for insulation, people.) but tufted headboards have stood the test of time thanks to their undeniable style and beauty. Plus, they harken back to the idea that we want a cozy environment in our homes, especially our bedrooms.
Louis XVI Chair
All the Louis chairs are masterpieces in their own rights, from the late Renaissance Louis III to the Rococo Louis XV. But probably the one you see the most is Louis XVI, which traded in the elaborate ornamentation and curves of the previous Louis for a more classic take on design. The XVI chairs are characterized by round or rectangular upholstered backs, exposed wood frame and fluted legs.
With origins in Medieval times, a trestle table was simply a wood board placed over simple, folding legs. It was designed to be easily put up and taken down, since most Medieval castles didn't have a designated dining room. Trestle tables, today, are a bit more permanent and definitely more stylish, but still serve the same function — a simple table to gather around with family and friends, enjoying a meal together.
Murano, an island off Venice, is the birthplace of Venetian mirrors. Centuries ago, the method and craftsmanship was a highly guarded secret and only royalty and the extremely wealthy could afford them. Of course, today, you see them on design blogs and in magazines everywhere. Technically, Venetian mirrors only come from Venice, but the style has been widely replicated, and you can easily find one to add instant luxury to your space.
The canopy bed's origins are practical rather than stylish since they were designed with curtains that would completely enclose the bed for warmth and privacy. Sometimes still styled with dreamy, romantic curtains, often canopy beds today forego the draperies and let the stately structure stand on its own. This lack of curtains allows the bed to blend with more styles and can even be seen in the most urban of designs.
Bentwood chairs get their name from the fact that the chair's frame has been bent into its curvy shape. The design is credited to Michael Thonet, who perfected the technique of using hot steam to get the wood pliable enough to bend, then allowing the wood to dry and harden into shape. Bentwood chairs' minimal design is elegant and effortlessly blends into a variety of design styles and environments. They're just as easily found in your grandparents' breakfast nook as they are at the hottest local restaurant.
Eames Lounge Chair and Ottoman
Husband and wife design team Charles and Ray Eames set out to create a relaxed lounge chair that emulated the look of a worn baseball mitt. Their creation mixes a curvy molded plywood shell with comfortable leather upholstery and an aluminum base on a swivel. The lounge chair and ottoman were instantly a hit in the midcentury and remain a major fixture on the design scene today. The set is even in the permanent collection of New York City's Museum of Modern Art.
Leather Club Chair
With its origins in France, the club chair was originally called, "fauteuil confortable," meaning, "the comfortable chair." Which is the exact reason why this is one furniture piece that never goes out of style. Simple curved lines, a low back and arms and typically featuring leather and nailhead trim, the club chair creates instant GQ-style and is a favorite for game rooms, man caves and adding a note of relaxed class to any space.
Shaker furniture has its roots in, you guess it, Shaker beliefs of honesty, utility and simplicity. Original Shaker furniture was made to be authentic in construction and appearance without any ornamentation and from local American woods. The minimalist style of the Shaker dresser features simple turned-wood knobs and still remains a favorite piece in cottage, traditional and transitional bedrooms.
The name may be French (literally: long chair), but the blending of a chair and daybed dates back to ancient Egypt. Of course, Greeks and Romans loved them, too. In 1800, Jacques-Louis David's portrait of Madame Recamier spread the chaise to a whole new level, and you would have been hard pressed to find a Victorian home without one. The chaise has gone through many iterations, from overstuffed and tufted to sleek leather with stainless steel accents. Which means, you are guaranteed to find a chaise to fit your personal design aesthetic.
Duncan Phyfe Table
In the early 1800s, Duncan Phyfe drew inspiration from English Regency and Neoclassical styles to create furniture that nodded to the past but had an updated sophistication for young America. With his shops in New York City, Phyfe had great influence over the furniture style of the time. An original Duncan Phyfe will cost a pretty penny (or thousands), and can be hard to identify, since he often didn't label his work, wanting the craftsmanship and style to stand on its own. However, reproductions are still readily used today. For this eclectic dining room, the Duncan Phyfe-inspired table is painted a distressed white. The original lines of the table are preserved and bring time-honored appeal to the room.
It's true. This particular furniture piece is a mere baby next to the rest of our old timers, but considering the Ghost chair got its start from classic Greek meets French royalty, we're letting the newbie in. In 2002, Phillip Stark reimagined the Louis XVI chair for Kartell into a clear plastic single mold piece and an instant icon was born.
Built ins take the place of their moveable (and potentially bulkier) counterparts to become an integral part of the home's architecture and create timeless appeal. Built-in bookshelves, cabinets and desks create an easier flow to the space, while also serving a key utilitarian purpose. Not only do they add more storage and organization, they undeniably add more style. Take, for instance, these awe-inspiring built-ins that stylishly store the homeowner's cello while turning it into sculptural artwork.
Ludwig Mies van de Rohe designed the Barcelona chair as part of the German Pavilion at the Barcelona Exposition of 1929. Influenced by Egyptian and Roman folding chairs, the simple shape, which combines stainless steel bars and a tufted leather upholstery, is one of the reasons this piece remains so popular.
Platform beds are the oldest bed design; by definition, it's a mattress sitting on a raised platform. For contemporary or modern spaces, they're streamlined wood frames with either a low or no headboard. Still, they have a place in traditional or transitional designs by upholstering the frame and adding a tall yet simple headboard. Though they may come in many forms, color and styles, platform beds truly never go out of fashion.