Below is a guideline of the various furniture designs of the 19th century. I've only put in the slightest amount of details, there are a lot of examples of various images of these types of furniture online. Find the period that your novel is set in and check out the furniture of the day. Or what kind of furniture your characters were handed down from their parents, grand parents or even great grandparents. Enjoy.
Neoclassicism, 1790-1840 took it's designs from Ancient Greek & Roman
Federal Period 1790-1815 was light and slender, clean lines and delicate molding, or none at all. Legs were straight, flat surfaces with decorative inlay or painting
Empire Period 1815-1840 Developed in France, heavy and monumental, thick legs and pillars, carved acanthus leaves, spiral twists and fluted columns
American Victorian 1865-1880 The Victorian Age 1840-1900 Structural and Decorative Details, American was patterned after English. Spool like turnings formed legs of beds, headboards and footboards. Heavy with straight lines, curved lines on in decorations. Marbled covered tables, washstands and dressers were quite popular. Dressers which often reached near the ceilings.
Neo-Gothic Revival Perion 1840-1860 Adapted forms from Gothic architecture and very ornamental.
Rococo Revival Period 1840-1860 Commonly referred to as "French Antique" revival of the rococo style by the French, very intricate with asymmetrical scrolls, curves and carvings.
Renaissance Revival Period 1860-1874 Again French influenced massive forms and rectangular construction. Straighter lines, arched tops, and prominent cresting as well as inlaid table tops.
Eastlake Period 1875-1885 Simple rectilinear construction and not a look of excessive curves were produced after Charles Eastlake published his book, Hints on Household taste.
Turn of the Century 1890-1900 basically incorporated all styles.
Arts and Crafts finish out the century for the last five years. 1895-1910 It emphasized form and structure rather than decoration, in other words, functional.