50 terms to look for when buying vintage furniture online


Read McKendree

It’s an all too familiar situation: you know what you want, but you don’t know what to ask for. When shopping for vintage furniture, that is. Navigating in person is no problem – with the parts all in one room, it’s easy to gravitate towards what you love. But the Internet is the opposite of an organized room: endless options, endless sites, and inconsistent labeling. How do you know what to literally type in the search bar? Right here, Beautiful house has concocted a list of search terms (grouped by style) to help you discover the vintage furniture you’ve been coveting but don’t know where to find online. We suggest checking out e-commerce marketplaces specializing in vintage – 1stdibs, Chairish and Etsy are some good places to start.

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With clean lines, organic shapes, and designed for small spaces, this post-war American design movement is still a popular aesthetic today.


Architect and industrial designer Eero Saarinen created quintessential curved and smooth furniture of the era. His Tulip chairs and table for Knoll were (and still are) incredibly popular.


Charles and Ray Eames designed some of the most enduring designs of the period, including their parlor and desk chairs.

Noguchi table

Designed by Isamu Noguchi, these organically shaped glass cocktail tables have inspired countless other designs. Discover Noguchi’s iconic paper lampsalso.

Walnut console

Media consoles were a popular style of furniture of the time, often made from walnut or other woods.


This furniture company produces some of the most well-known mid-century designs – check out both their vintage pieces (on online marketplaces) and newly produced pieces (on their own website).

Herman Miller

Another producer of many famous mid-century furniture designs, including Eames pieces like the famous chaise longue and these more classic desk chairs.

george nelson

Former lead designer of Herman Miller, Nelson has created many famous designs. Her bubble pendant, which emits a soft glow, is adored.

Known for their use of pop art colors and kitsch themes, the Memphis group designed “radical, funny and outrageous” furniture in the 1980s.


Ettorre Sottsass was an Italian architect and designer best known for founding Memphis Milano (aka the Memphis Group) in 1980. You’ve probably seen his pink “Ultrafragola” mirror on Instagram.

1980s Radical

This was the style and era of Memphis design; the group disbanded in 1987.


A composite material commonly used in Memphis Group designs consisting of chips of granite, quartz, marble or other stone.

Marco Zanini

Founding member of the Memphis group known for its geometric ceramics, furniture and lighting.

Memphis fruit bowl

A joint creation of the Memphis group, the ceramic and glass fruit bowls perfectly sum up the playful spirit of the group.

Invented by Emma Bazilian of House Beautiful, some call this style “granny chic”, nodding to Colefax & Fowler, Mario Buatta and other purveyors of traditional and lavish decor.


A fabric or wallcovering pattern depicting a rich floral design. This Brunschwig & Fils model is perfect for chintz lovers.

club chair

Upholstered and upholstered furniture is the cornerstone of the Grandmillennial aesthetic. Club chairs, like this one from Cowtan & Tout, are an ideal chair shape to show off your favorite textile.

Chinese export porcelain

A basic accent piece for table decor, mantelpieces and, topped with a shade, bedside tables.


Seats, tablecloths and more can feature ruffled bases. Grandmillénaire classic.


From sofas to ottomans, tufted pieces have an exaggerated quilted effect on the surface and are both traditional and classic.


Short for “Toile de Jouy”, these fabrics depict repeated prints of pastoral scenes, often on a white background.


A decorative arts interpretation of East Asian motifs, used for fabrics and wallcoverings.

The minimalist furniture of the modern Scandinavian movement favors clean lines and natural materials, practical with a clean aesthetic.

Modern Danish

From the 1940s to around the 1960s, this era of furniture epitomized the classic Scandinavian look.


A common wood used in modern Scandinavian furniture.

Hans Wegner

A furniture designer whose work inspired the style of the Danish modernist movement, Wegner created iconic styles like the Wishbone chair.

Finn Juhl

A Danish architect and designer known for his contributions to modern Danish furniture.

Modular Shelving

Large shelves, especially in teak, were popular at the time.

Poul Henningsen

This designer and light fixture is best known for his striking yet simplistic aluminum and glass pendant lights, such as the PH5 (pictured) and Artichoke.

This 19th century style of furniture favors heavy woods, ornate carvings, gold accents, and classic patterns.

Mahogany / Rosewood Wardrobe

Two common woods used in Regency pieces, plus a form of royal furniture (one can also choose to look for a “wardrobe”).

Golden Mirror

Large ornate gold-rimmed mirrors were typical of the era and are sure to cause a stir.

Inlaid brass

Complex designs where the brass integrates with the marquetry of the wood.

lounge chair

Often a victim of the misnomer “lounge chair,” the name for this “long” sofa shape is literally French for “chaise longue.”

writing table

This style of Regency desk may also be referred to as a “flat desk”.

Louis XV

Louis XV furniture often features curved wooden frames and ornate gilding; Bergères are traditional French-style padded armchairs of the time.

Both cozy and contemporary, this country-inspired aesthetic championed by Joanna Gaines incorporates natural materials and neutral hues.

Bleached wood

Look for whitewashed pieces (pine, birch, and oak are solid choices) for bright interiors that still feel lived in.

French country

While the “live, laugh, love” signs look outdated, accents of the French countryside — from milk crates turned trays to old-fashioned coffee cans — add charm.


Table accents and kitchen accessories can get the “rustic” treatment for spaces that don’t want to feel so precious.

Bistro chair

A classic rattan seat design, simple enough to work in a variety of spaces.

This futuristic style of furniture relies on biomorphic shapes, inspired by the tech boom and space age of the mid-20th century.


A master of sofas and armchairs, Paulin’s sleek style is still as popular as ever.


A nubby fabric used to upholster period furniture. (Search with and without accent!)

Chrome coffee table

This shiny metal brings the space-age aesthetic to life and is often paired with glass for side tables.

Vladimir Kagan

Another iconic designer whose furniture is known for its curvy silhouettes.

Lucite / Acrylic

A transparent, shiny plastic, lucite is also known as “acrylic glass”.


This plastic furniture supplier has given away its share of space-age designs.

This aesthetic mirrors both the architecture and the furnishings with an emphasis on stained hardwood designs, symmetry, and accent glass.

William Morris

Morris is best known for his textile designs.


An architectural style and furniture from the Arts & Crafts movement.


Synonymous with wooden furniture in the style of the movement.

Morris chair

This majestic wooden seat has a reclining backrest.

Frank Lloyd Wright

While not formally an Arts & Crafts ambassador (most of the architect’s home designs are considered “Prairie style”), Wright’s aesthetic has a connection to the movement.

Stained glass or leaded glass

Ornate window panels are an Arts & Crafts signature.


Stickley was a major manufacturer at the time.


Again, either a style of architecture or furniture synonymous with Arts & Crafts designs.

Patio chairs, go ahead, it’s easy to step up your patio furniture game with the right search terms for great pieces.

butterfly chair

This iconic shape makes it a comfortable and striking lounge chair.

Rattan / Wicker

A natural textile style for outdoor living.

Salterini / Wrought iron

These styles of vintage Italian garden furniture are timeless.


Elegantly light the way for outdoor gatherings that last after the sun goes down.

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