Contemporary Furniture

Written by Charles Peacock
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Contemporary furniture is a difficult thing to define. Many people confuse the words "contemporary" and "modern." It's also very common for people to think that both terms mean the same thing. In reality, there is in fact a difference, and it's important to keep this in mind when shopping for furniture.

Defining Contemporary Furniture

Put very simply: contemporary furniture refers to whatever style of furniture is popular at the current moment. Years ago, this could have meant that Shaker furniture was "contemporary." In a sense (since it is still popular) it is. But the rule with contemporary furniture is usually that it has to be popular among the masses--in other words the most common type of furniture that you can find.

Contemporary furniture is furniture that blends in easily with current tastes in interior design and decor. No one would say, for instance, that checkered black-and-white sofas are contemporary--they're too recognizable as a style from the '80s. Classic American furniture is, however, contemporary; many people are currently using it in their homes, and it is easy to find in furniture stores.

The reason for the confusion between the terms "modern" and "contemporary" is that the words have a very similar literal definition (when removed from the context of furniture and architectural design). To complicate matters further, the rising popularity of modern furniture in recent years has brought it back to a level where it can be referred to as "contemporary." If you're furniture shopping, your best bet is to use the term "modern" if you're looking for modern furniture.


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