Furniture generally refers to movable ornamental objects meant to support various physical activities including seating (e.g, tables, chairs), eating (eating spaces), and sleeping (beds). Furniture is also frequently used to hold small objects at a convenient level for work (e.g. shelves and cupboards), or for storing items temporarily (such as loose articles). A few other types of furniture include home furnishing (furniture for a house), outdoor furniture (furniture intended to stand outside the home), furniture used in institutions such as hospitals, schools, and offices, furniture for the home, etc.
The earliest furniture types were crafted from wood. As people began to require more sophisticated materials, especially for high-end furnishings, various kinds of iron began to be used. Iron was considered to be the most practical material because of its high elasticity. It was able to stretch into most shapes without the need for glue or nails, which made it ideal for furniture that would be moved around a lot.
The earliest examples of furniture were simple tables with chairs, perhaps to be used by single people for eating or for socializing. As the society evolved, more elaborate seating arrangements began to be used. At first, seating consisted of two to three chairs. As the population grew, additional seats and benches were installed.
One of the earliest examples of furniture that consisted of more than one chair and a set of tables is the chair and table set (or simply “chair-and-table set”). These were typically found in homes of royalty. Chairs were usually covered with padded seats and the tables were usually made of sturdy white wood. Because of their elegance and quality, these chair-and-table sets were often displayed in upscale homes.
Chair-and-table sets are not only found in wealthy homes; they also became popular in the working class homes of America during the early 20th century. A common place to find this type of furniture is in a diner or coffee shop. These simple tables and chairs would often be supplemented by a simple, but functional, wood coffee table. Today, a modern coffee table and chair combination are quite different than the traditional designs, which are usually dark and complex.
Wood has always been the main material used for seating, even before chair and tables test methods were developed. Native American tribes such as the Cherokee and Zuni, for example, built houses from the beginning using wooden frame constructions. Even today, many people choose to build their own home from the start with a series of small wooden frame homes, even if they live in a city or suburb. This proves that wooden seating is more than just a historical artifact; it is a practical choice that can withstand the test of time.
While most families choose to use wooden pieces for seating and stools for occasional use, some choose to use a mixture of materials, including glass and metal. Glass was a common addition to homes in ancient times, as it was light and flexible. Metal, on the other hand, was often chosen for buildings in which mobility was a problem, since it was hard to carry heavy objects. Now, many homes feature both types of material, although some homes are still made entirely of wood. The changing popularity of metals has also contributed to the increased use of steel stools and chairs.
Wood was an important part of ancient cultures, since it was easy to work with and was stronger than metal, which was more susceptible to damage. Using wood as a primary material for the construction of a home or office proved to be more beneficial in the long run, even though the costs were higher. Wooden chairs and tables remain a main article of furniture that most families use, although there has been a recent resurgence in popularity of glass. Some people are starting to replace their old wooden tables with those made of other materials, which are often less expensive. As our society becomes more modern and we attempt to reduce our carbon footprint, we may all see an increase in the use of recycled materials in our daily lives.