Christy Ferer says that traditional furniture can be anything but. Upholster a precious museum-quality antique in plain four-dollar-a yard muslin, calico, or a Navajo blanket. Or use dress fabrics like silks, organza, or cashmere to dress up a couch. Paper a chest of drawers with sheet music or old love letters. Applique flames on a traditional sofa, as Josie Natori does in her Paris apartment.
The way we use furniture has evolved in much the same way that our use of rooms has. Flexibility and practicality are our prime concern now, and looking pretty is not enough. Furniture has to feel as good as it looks and it should be multifunctional. A headboard should slide open for storage. Tables and chairs should roll to where they are required.