What Is Furniture?

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Furniture includes a wide variety of movable objects intended for use with people: Seating such as chairs, benches and sofas; tables, desks and work surfaces; beds, cradles and cribs; and storage units like wardrobes. It is typically made from wood, but may also be constructed from plastic, metal, leather or other materials. It can be functional, decorative or ceremonial in purpose. In general, there are two broad categories of furniture construction: one where the appearance reveals how it is put together (constructional), and another where the construction is hidden from view (stylized).

Furniture can be decorated with a wide range of finishes and fabrics. These can be used to create visual contrast and texture, or to match or complement other furniture and decor in a room. Upholstery fabrics include animal hides and leather, wicker, cotton, felt and chintz. Decorative elements such as carving, inlay and painting add to the beauty of furniture. Depending on how the furniture is used, it may be necessary to protect the finish from scratches, spills and other damage.

Traditionally, buying large pieces of furniture required visiting a showroom. This can still be the case for some people, but many consumers now shop for furniture online. For these purchases, it’s important to understand how to judge furniture quality before making a purchase. Check to see that a piece is sturdy by giving it a shake. Look for drawers and cabinet doors that close smoothly and securely. For upholstered furniture, make sure it has been inspected and tested for fire safety compliance according to the Furniture, Furnishings and Equipment (FF&E) Regulations.