Modern and Contemporary furniture styles are Australia’s favourite interior décor choice. More rural locations prefer the Country style, while younger generations lean towards Scandinavian and Industrial styles.
These are just some of the statistics revealed through Brosa’s 2016 Furniture Style Survey. Brosa recently asked Australians to vote for their favourite furniture style, with more than 3,700 responding to the call.
This map shows our overall furniture style survey results:
The survey exposes some interesting trends in interior décor in Australia today. Our compatriots clearly gravitated towards the clean, streamlined aesthetics of Modern and Contemporary furniture. It’s not surprising, perhaps, that Contemporary claimed such a large proportion of the votes since people generally love what’s currently trending.
An interesting trend is a growing attention to Scandinavian and Industrial designs by younger generations, welcomed perhaps because of a resurgence in Scandinavian pop culture (such as The Girl with the Dragon Tattoo) as well as a growth in Scandinavian-inspired design stores.
In the cities, we’re also seeing a trend in warehouse conversions, which may encourage a preference for Industrial designs.
Perhaps less surprising is the preference for the light, airy designs of Country and Cottage styles, specifically in more isolated communities across Australia. Western Australia and Tasmania both chose Country as their top style, while it featured high on the list for the NT and Queensland, as well as on the outskirts of Melbourne.
No doubt inspired by their surroundings, these voters must love to bring a bit of the countryside indoors with the rusticity of Country furniture.
Read on for a description of the furniture styles listed in the survey, along with a more in-depth analysis of the state-by-state statistics.
Jump to State-by-State Rundown
Our Furniture Styles
Classic Contemporary combines the elegance of traditional design with the minimalist look of contemporary décor. It borrows the classic lines and accents of eras past and blends them with the subtle hues and natural elements popular today. The result is modern furnishings with a quaint twist. With Classic Contemporary furniture, you may find button detailing, natural stone, wood or leather, and a streamlined finish.
Contemporary furniture is all about the present. It’s essentially furniture that’s being designed at this moment. In that sense it’s malleable, always changing, and borrowing facets of different styles and iconic pieces.
You’ll often find clean lines, simple shapes and natural materials mixed with industrial elements. Contemporary furniture also focuses on combining form with function – comfort remains important.
The Cottage style has roots in the US and is often regarded as warm, simple, rustic and full of provincial charm. Cottage furniture is more defined in its origins, dating back to the 1830s where it began appearing in affluent East Coast pockets like The Hamptons or Martha’s Vineyard. Light, airy colour palettes and distressed wood often typify Cottage furnishings. Furniture tends to emphasise texture and clean lines.
Country furniture has remnants of European furniture but is associated with American farmers and pioneers.
Although Country furniture is known for its practical, long-lasting properties, it can feature refined, ornate wood carvings and design. To help the furniture’s longevity, the wood is often coated with lacquer or some protective varnish, which can give it a heavy appearance.
Eclectic represents a combination of styles from different periods and origins. This means it’s really a personalised collection of your own tastes. There are no rules for textures, fabrics or finishes. For example, you can lay a patterned blanket alongside a textured couch. Eclectic styles often begin with a neutral background to build upon.
As the name suggests, Industrial interior décor draws its inspiration from industry – warehouses and factories, for example. It showcases raw, exposed elements such as steel and brick, along with distressed woods. Industrial homes tend to have high ceilings and long, hanging light fixtures. Furniture is functional, with weathered or distressed effects and often just a dash of striking colour.
The Mid-Century Modern movement inspired some of the most iconic furniture pieces we know today. These pieces focus on minimalism, with a focus on functionality. In Mid-Century Modernism, you’ll see refined lines and organic shapes. Furniture from this style is typically made of new materials, such as aluminium and moulded plastic.
Modern refers to post-industrial furniture. Contrary to the Contemporary style, Modern represents a static period where furniture was revolutionised by machination and underpinned by clean lines, simple colours and minimalism.
Modern sofas are normally raised to guarantee that airy, open feel. Primary characteristics of modern design include minimal embellishments, bare floors and the use of polished metal.
Retro can encompass any furniture style that is culturally outdated but has enjoyed a revival. Its very outdatedness gives it a sort of vintage prestige that makes it sought-after once more. Retro furniture is typically borrowed from a style that is at least 15 to 20 years old.
Much of interior décor and design has come fresh out of Scandinavia. This kind of design is renowned for its sculpted yet functional appeal. Scandinavian furniture tends to adopt a subdued colour palette along with natural materials. Any bright colours typically come from bold accents
Tuscan décor evokes the hills of Italy. As such, furniture is usually rustic, though elegant, with elaborate patterns, wrought-iron finishes and a weathered look. A Tuscan styled room is represented by its down-to-earth colour palette and earthy materials.
Australia’s Favourite Furniture Styles
Contemporary and Modern styles won 3 states or territories apiece, while WA and Tasmania surprised us with something a little different…
Australian Capital Territory
The ACT gave us something new, as the only region to include Scandinavia in its top 3 pickings, placing it in the second spot. It was the younger generation that might have propelled it into top place, although a decent portion of those aged 45-64 also listed Scandinavian as their favourite style.
Interestingly, men were more interested in Scandinavian than women, rating it much higher than the national medium at a solid 12%. On the other hand, ACT females placed Contemporary equal first alongside Eclectic, a style that only sat 7th on the ladder for ACT men.
Tuscan rounds out the top 3 favourite styles for younger females between 25 and 34, while Industrial tops the chart for women aged 45-54. Intriguingly, Industrial is the least favourite option for men of the same age group, which begs the question how home styling is settled by middle-aged couples in the ACT.
Couples aged 65 and over are slightly more fortunate – women favoured Industrial over all other styles, while men put it in third place.
New South Wales
In New South Wales, the winning furniture style went right down to the wire, with Contemporary pipped at the post by Modern, by just two votes!
Once again, Scandinavian creeps into the top 3 for the younger generation. However, it’s the male vote that boosts it to the top 3; it finishes in 6th place for younger women. Industrial design takes out the top spot for women aged 25-34 (a style that their male contemporaries place last!).
Couples aged 35-44 must find themselves totally in sync. Each gender lists their top 3 styles as Contemporary (top spot), Modern, and then Country.
Modern may have won the state’s vote, but those in Sydney show a clean preference for the Contemporary style, perhaps because the city slickers love to keep up with the latest trends.
While the Northern Territory shows some allegiance with the rest of the country in picking Modern as its preferred furniture style, it follows that up with Cottage and Country styles. Perhaps these choices represent the need for airy, light and simplistic furniture in Australia’s tropical north.
NT men showed a clear preference for the Modern look, while women much-preferred Cottage or Country styles. This trend is mimicked in the breakdown of age groups, although women aged 45-54 prefer Modern along with their male contemporaries.
Meanwhile, men aged 55 and above diverged quite sharply from their younger generation’s preference for Modern, choosing Classic Contemporary (for ages 55-64) and Cottage (for ages 65+) as their preferred styles.
Queensland’s statistics mirror the country’s, with the same three styles – Contemporary, Modern and Country – competing for top billing. Here, Contemporary came out on top.
Yet while the state average reflects national choices, Queensland females have gone completely against the grain, giving their top spots to Country (with almost 25% of the vote) and Cottage (at nearly 15%). The fact that these options closely mimics the NT’s leads us to believe the outdoors lifestyle might play a role in furniture choices here.
If those aged 45-64 had it their way, Country would easily sit in top place. Indeed, Cottage, Country and Tuscan styles were all equal favourites for women aged 35-44 (in fact, Tuscan sees one of its highest national places in this segment).
However, Contemporary, Classic Contemporary and Modern styles win out with the younger generations, as they do with males of almost all ages.
The clear frontrunner in SA was the Contemporary furniture style, with Classic Contemporary the next challenge (SA really likes contemporary styles it seems).
Country and Tuscan styles also make a resurgence among women in the state, although not enough to feature in the state top 3.
Interior décor may make an interesting turn in the future, with those aged 25-34 listing Scandinavian and Eclectic as their second and third favourite options. These statistics are likely driven by the females, nearly 20% of whom list Scandinavian as their favourite choice (Eclectic comes second with 15% of the vote).
Younger men mix it up, even more, bringing Cottage, Mid-Century and Country into the top 4 (with Modern still stealing top spot).
Country just beat out Modern furniture as the collective winner in the Apple Isle. However, in a startling find, not one age group listed it as their top pick, with two groups apiece choosing Modern and Cottage styles instead.
Interestingly, younger men differ quite substantially from their male superiors. Tasmanian men aged 25-44 commonly list Modern, Contemporary, Scandinavian and Industrial as their favourite furniture styles. Yet men aged 55 and above swing sharply to more individual styles, placing Country, Retro and Cottage in their top 3 mix.
Australia’s most European capital picked out Modern as their favourite furniture style, but dodged expectations by listing Country as their second pick. Country remained the most preferred option among Victorian women.
Generation Y choose Modern and Contemporary styles as their top choices, but with the older generations the preference swings towards Country and Cottage styles. In fact, Retro even peeks into third spot for women over 65.
Rural locations, and those on the edge of the city, lean more towards the Cottage style, perhaps to draw some of the inspiration from their natural surroundings indoors!
Western Australia surprised us by diverging from their mainland neighbours in favour of the Country style. A little less surprising, Modern and Contemporary were not too far behind, finishing second and third respectively.
Once again, it may have been WA women who propelled Country into to spot, with an impressive 20% of female voters preferring that style above all others. Western Australian men actually preferred the Modern style – but only by three votes.
A battle of the generations ensues in Western Australia. Those under 45 prefer Modern above all other styles, while those over 45 favour Country. Interestingly 65s and over chose Classic Contemporary as their preferred furniture choice. We also found an interesting quirk among men aged 45-54, who preferred Retro style above all others.
Did any of these findings surprise you? Did they follow your own preferences? Or have you preferred something thoroughly different from the mainstream?
We hope these statistics tell you something not just about what’s hot right now, but what trends we can expect to see more of in the future (Scandinavian and Industrial, for example).
If you’re inspired by any of these styles we’ve listed here, shop online at Brosa to find a whole range of designer furniture options waiting to refresh your living space.