How to get started picking a style


This is a very open ended question, I know but I really have found that I am taking a liking to the "older" furniture styles than say the newer stuff that is all the rage. For example I enjoy woodcarving, not great at it, but not horrible either and certian furniture styles have carvings on them that I know I can do, so that has peaked my intertest. So my question is where can I find an overall view of the different periods of furniture to better look and see what I may want to try? I am open to any all feed back, but any books or internet sites that I can pour thru or is there one specific period that it more ornate. I am totally new to this so again I have to claim total ignornace here.
A good comprehensive book is Wallace Nutting's "Furniture Treasury". Although first published almost a century ago, all styles are in there to look at.
Morrison Heckscher's " American Furniture at the Metropolitan Museum of Art, Queen Anne and Chippendale" is a favorite of mine because it has great pictures.
Jerry Ward's "American Case Furniture" is good also.
There are of course lots of books on specific periods- Pilgrim, Rococo, Federal, etc.-Al
If you want to pick just one book, I'd suggest Jeffrey Greene's "American Furniture of the 18th Century".  It's a taunton book, and includes a lot of information of how period pieces were constructed and finished, as well as a catalogue of Jacobean, William and Mary, Queen Anne, Chippendale and Federal styles (essentially bridging the period between about 1650 and 1820). 

The catalogue sections include overall exploded construction drawings - it's not quite enough to be sufficient to reproduce the piece, but is enough information to draw plans yourself should you so desire.

It's a taunton book that's available just about everywhere.  If you want a signed copy, you can buy one directly from the author:
Not sure where you live, but I find seeing furniture is person is always the best way.  Period rooms at the Met, Boston MFA, Winterthur, MESDA, Yale, etc are all good starting points.

I live in Ohio so not to close to you, but maybe there is something close to me in Ohio I can check out. Thanks for the replies so far, I am kind of a book junkie. So the book recomendations I will most certainly check out. Thanks a bunch!
For the books listed above; they are expensive, especially the Metro. Museum book new.  I found quite a few of the "premier" furniture books such as the Metro. M book and Sacks book on AbesBooks (dot) com.  I think I got the Metro book for $15 and the Sacks book for $7 free shipping. 

I will check that out. As with any books like the ones we are talking about they are expensive because the are not widely published, so anytime you can find them at a good deal it is a good thing.
If Toledo is close enough for you to visit, you might consider the Henry Ford Museum in Dearborn, MI, which would be a little further North for you.  They have quite a nice selection of period furniture, tools and other neat stuff.  Plus, Greenfield Village is amazing, Ford put together some historic homes / buildings into a very nice village. He has Edison's Menlo Park lab, the Wright Brothers shop, and other neat stuff. Well worth the drive.

LOL @ "By the way, you should pick Chippendale.  Just sayin."

I myself am particularly fond of William & Mary, next would be Queen Anne. As far as a first book to introduce one into different styles, you would be hard pressed to beat Nutting & you can get his book for as little as $8.65 on Amazon.

It's considered the "Bible" among antique american furniture folks and though it was published in 1928, all the photo's are black & white, the scholarship is quite dated, it remains an icon in the furniture world.
The truth as to what style to pick is the one in which the customer says, "I want that; here is my deposit."
For carving investigate Rococo and then attend SAPFM regional meetings. Your Ohio chapter would be of great benifit to you and you couldn't meet a better bunch of craftsmen!
Another thought...If you are going Williamsburg in Jan, leave some extra time to go to the library and browse the HUGE collection of furniture books they have, then you can decide what ones to  buy.  You would need to check, but I believe it is only open M-F.

Where does the Ohio valley chapter meet? I am up in Central Ohio, basicly Columbus, and a little north of that, but that is the largest city close to me. Ty I love your comment "I want that; here is my deposit." I believe that the SAPFM is out of Galena Ohio which is about 10 minutes from where I live, what brought me to this forum was I was in the Sunberry Libaray and saw an annual publication of the SAPFM and thought wow this is really cool! I was looking for woodworking magizines and carving books. I am so glad I found it and read it. I should ask Santa for a subscription to SAPFM.
go down to the chapters listed here on this website and check the Ohio River Valley for meeting notices.
Most of the Ohio meetings are in and around Columbus.
You don't say in your original post whether you're looking for books that are "art appreciation" types or "how do I do this" types.  The museum books are great resources - I have several thousand dollars worth of them (yes, they can be quite expensive if you want to build a comprehensive library).

But these books are pretty much useless if you're new to period construction details (i.e., the "how do I do this" question).  Nutting's books in particular typically show just one photograph of a piece (from the front).  That's great if you're trying to figure out what you like in a desk-on-frame or a Windsor chair, not so great when you've made your selection and are going to sit down to figure out a measured drawing or how much wood you're going to need to reproduce a piece.

This is why I suggested the Jeffrey Greene book (American Furniture of the 18th Century) - it has not only a survey of the basic styles (with examples), but also construction and period techniques information.

But here's another one that I'd bet most SAPFM members have in their library, and it's a good deal cheaper than the Greene book because Lee Valley reprinted it, though it focuses on one style (Norm Vandal's Queen Anne Furniture):,46096,46105&ap=2

Finally, the Chipstone Foundation's collection of furniture is beautifully photographed and represented in the Wisconsin University's Digital Library for the Decorative Arts:

(Select the "Chipstone and Longridge Collections")

This database is free, and provides a lot of pictures of the interior details of pieces.  Also free is the digital format for an important publication of the Chipstone Foundation - "American Furniture" (At least the ones published before 2006 - the 2006 and later editions are available for purchase from Amazon and other booksellers).  These books are intended as scholarly resources, so they aren't writtien in the accessible style that the Vandall and Greene books are, but they are treasure troves of photographs and descriptions of iconic American Colonial Furniture:

This should keep you busy for a few days. ;-)
You don't say in your original post whether you're looking for books that are "art appreciation" types or "how do I do this" types.

Excellent point! As a collector i tend to get books that are mostly about the form/design of old furniture where most of the folks on this forum are interested in how to build it, two totally different things.