Contemporary Furniture

Written by Sarah Provost
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How many stores selling contemporary furniture are there within a 50-mile radius of your home? If you live in a big city, there may be quite a few. If you live in Barstow, California, you'll be lucky to find one. Even city dwellers, though, face limited choices when they shop at brick-and-mortar stores.

On the Internet, it's a different story. No matter where you live, you can browse through scores of sites and see an amazing variety of contemporary furniture. Browse design museum sites to get a sense of what styles and designers you like, then go on a virtual tour of the stores.

Contemporary Furniture Reproductions

Maybe you visited the Noguchi design site and fell in love with his furniture. If you bought that coffee table you want, though, you'd have nothing left in your budget for the rest of the house. This problem can be solved by purchasing a reproduction.

High quality reproductions of contemporary furniture are easily available on the Web. One advantage of purchasing reproductions is that you may have a wider range of choices for colors, upholstery and framing. Check the specifications to be sure that the materials used are as durable as the originals.

Some contemporary furniture icons, such as the plywood Eames chair, have become so widely reproduced that they no longer seem to have the spirit of the originals. You may have seen Eames-style chairs in every waiting room you've been in recently. But don't discount a particular design on that basis. You might be surprised at the difference between a mass-market product and a high-quality reproduction.

Trends in Contemporary Furniture

You should also consider new styles in contemporary furniture. For the past several years, "shabby chic" was de rigueur. Now the pendulum is swinging away from overstuffed, slipcovered furniture. Two of the best new trends are the sleek modernist styles influenced by '50s designs, and neo-Victorian designs.

Modernist styles tend to have severe, clean lines. Leather is often the upholstery of choice, and the framing is often of chromed metal. These styles work best in good-sized rooms, where the furniture and art are of bold proportions. The neo-Victorian style is curvy, but often asymmetrical. It is often upholstered in velvet, plush or tapestry, and comes in some eye-popping colors. These pieces work well in smaller, cozier rooms.

Buying new furniture is an investment, and you have to live with your choices for quite a long time. Don't let that fact intimidate you, though. The only two "rules" that count in selecting contemporary furniture are to buy the best quality you can afford and to select only those pieces you love. Buy furniture that reflects who you are: mix them, match them and have fun with them!


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