Traditional vs Vogue furniture: What to choose?

May 21, 2022

Modern Couch - Mainland Furniture NZ

When it comes to purchasing furniture, the thing that will always be at the forefront of your mind is looks! Whether it’s how it looks in your home, or how the paint job will look in 20 years, it’s always about the looks. But that brings up the question, what look should you be looking for?

The look of a unit can drastically change the appearance and feel of an entire room and when not done correctly, can stick out like a sore thumb! This blog is going to cover what to think about when purchasing a unit and what red flags you should be wary of to avoid purchasing that ‘timeless’ piece that has aged like milk in the year!

Preface: Taste is personal

It’s definitely worth noting before going down the fashion and design rabbit hole that your personal taste always matters the most. Don’t feel pressured into buying any piece of furniture that you don’t truly love, it’s your money being spent on your home so you should love it!

This also applies to the function of the furniture also, because what’s the purpose of purchasing a stylish TV unit if it can’t fit your TV or media boxes? Never follow design trends that won’t work for you and, like the fashion industry, avoid living a ‘use it until its dated’ policy on your furniture!

One of our recent blog posts covers why “fast furniture” is doing incredible harm to the environment, and why you should always consider purchasing for the “long term”. With that out of the way, let’s tackle the meat and potatoes of this blog!

What is Traditional? What is Vogue?

Traditional Furniture - Mainland Furniture NZ

When it comes to pointing out style, it’s always worth setting down some ground rules for what classifies as ‘Traditional’ and what classifies as ‘Vogue’.

Traditional furniture is generally quite curvy through the use of bevels and ‘accents’. Vogue furniture on the other hand is quite stark and minimal, with a lot of right angles, squares, and flat surfaces.

In terms of color, Traditional units will always try to accent the wood, either by leaving the wood with its natural look or giving it a stain to slightly alter the look of the wood. Vogue furniture on the other hand generally uses either unnatural or muted colors and tries to obscure the grain of the wood for the overall design of the unit.

This description will obviously always have outliers and rule breakers, so a good rule of thumb is to think of who’s house the furniture belongs in. If that chest of drawers looks like it would belong in a Victorian household, then it’s traditional. If it looks like it belongs in a beach-facing multi-million dollar villa that was built in the last 20 years, then it’s Vogue.

So why should I consider either?

When it comes to traditional furniture, it will always ‘work’ with the space it’s given. Traditional furniture is named so because it’s the traditional look, when you think of a chest of drawers you’re most likely thinking of a traditionally styled chest of drawers. As such, traditional furniture is great at becoming part of the environment it’s in.

Vogue furniture however is the Fonz, it’s cool, it’s hip, it’s always going to be the centre of attention no matter where it’s placed. As such, you should consider vogue looks for things such as TV units or sideboards where if it wasn’t already going to be the center of attention, you’ll now know for sure it is.

Why should I avoid them then?

If you’ve got a relatively new house, the ‘traditional’ looks of traditional furniture will look weirdly out of place. Since they use such time-tested design ideologies, in a modern home it could look as though it stepped out of a time machine to be in the room.

Vice versa for vogue furniture in a “classically” styled home, the unit would look like a spaceman in the stone age. However, vogue furniture also has more risk due to it becoming out-dated as time goes on. If you take a trip into any charity or second-hand shop, you can find plenty of examples of ‘new-look’ furniture left behind from the passage of time.

That’s why we would recommend that if you are interested in a piece of vogue furniture, we would recommend going for something that will in time be upgraded or replaced such as a TV Unit or desk.

Outdated doesn’t always mean bad

Retro Furniture - Mainland Furniture NZ

While this post makes it seem like traditionally styled furniture is always the go, that isn’t always the case. If you commit to a vogue style, you can often make it work even decades once they’re out of fashion. There are plenty of examples of ’50s-themed dining areas and 70’s retro living rooms that work because the person creating the area is committed to the style.

So unless you have absolutely zero sense of taste and decided you’re going to theme your living room based on contrasting colours and styles, doubling down on a look can pay off even in the long run!


It’s easy to get scared when buying furniture, especially for an empty space, as that piece of furniture can quickly dictate how a room appears for years to come. But so long as the furniture functions how it should and you like the look then it should be fine.

When buying anything, you should be thinking for years ahead and not just for now, so make sure that TV unit you’re purchasing is going to work for any future TVs in years to come and that you’ll be happy waking up to that headboard 10,000 mornings from now. 

Quality furniture shouldn’t age as rapidly as something like clothes or electronics, so if you like the look then go ahead, don’t let the fashion trends of now and soon affect how you love your furniture in those periods.


What looks should I avoid at all costs?

When it comes to furniture, the looks to always avoid will be apparent as soon as you look at them. Think of your floral printed couches at your grandparents that were always wrapped in plastic. 90’s era TV units that were clearly designed for big chunky CRTs and not modern flat screens or “computer” desks that are designed for old desktops and the use of discs for storage.

Pieces like these have been gentrified over time as their looks and uses have become increasingly redundant as times have changed. However, due to their low-cost (oftentimes free), some know-how and a can-do attitude could have you making custom pieces out of furniture like this that’s truly unique.

Should I theme my rooms around the look?

Obviously, the look of your house will massively dictate not only which furniture you should buy, but how the rooms in your house are laid out in general.

However, when it comes to theming your room around a particular look this can go one of two ways. If done correctly a ‘themed’ room can look great, especially when striving for a particular look. As mentioned above, there are plenty of examples of ’50s-themed dining areas that look great even today due to their commitment to the bit.

Where theming might go wrong is when it’s particularly overdone, such as every piece being baby-blue, or exactly the same style and shape. But if you’re intending for your room to have a niche theme, like an 80’s video-rental store for your VHS collection or a high-class Victorian dining suite, then go for it! 

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