By Rachel Samuel
What is Old World style? Well, it’s a mix of rustic, country charm and noble elegance that draws upon European interior design from mostly the 16th and 17th centuries. It’s influenced by Mediterranean countries with roots in France, Italy, and Spain. It’s characterized by luxurious, artisanal fabrics, deep, rich colors, textural design features, and intricate ornamentation. There’s a certain grandeur associated with it, but there’s also quite an accessibility and warmth that’s imparted by the natural tones and well-worn feel it exudes. The richness is balanced by comfortable, “lived-in” and relaxed qualities that incorporate both rustic and elegant embellishments.
This style offers something for everyone. There are many ways to incorporate facets of it in your bedroom. Let’s delve deeper into key aspects of the Old World style.
Colors and Fabrics
It’s all about deep, rich colors and luxurious fabrics. The hues aren’t usually bright and cheery (although there are exceptions), but rather earthy. Think wine-red, midnight-blue, hunter-green, and various shades of brown and cream. Textiles include soft, lush velvets, embroidered textiles, lavish brocades, woven tapestries, damask (perhaps with floral and stripe patterns), silks, and generally substantial floor-to-ceiling drapery. (Wallpaper can be a great way to incorporate traditional and classic designs to mimic the old-fashioned tapestries that were actually made from hand-woven cloth.)
Textures and Architectural Elements
Old World style draws upon many textural and natural elements. Ceilings, walls, and floors are all candidates for the application of stucco, stonework, frescoes, Venetian plaster, terracotta, and distressed finishes (Many of these materials were originally all part of the building structure, but nowadays can be recreated with various finishing techniques to get similar effects). These design elements give it a cozy country feel with a natural backdrop.
Two key architectural characteristics stand out: arches and exposed wooden beams. Arched windows, doors, and hallways often add majestic features to a room. Exposed wooden beams in ceilings are quite common and contribute a rustic charm. Both arches and ceiling beams add height to spaces and direct the eye upward vertically which translates into a feeling of openness.
Accents and Décor
This style is marked by the juxtaposition of wooden and metal pieces with delicate artisanal decorations. Dark, heavy, wooden furniture such as bed frames with elaborate headboards and four-poster beds, as well as large, deep armoires ground the room and give it weight. Metals such as wrought iron, burnished brass, and bronze show up as details on wood furniture as well as different fixtures. Metalwork is never shiny or highly polished, but subdued. Often, gilded ornamentation of perhaps a fleur-de-lis or leafy vine pattern is used to add a regal touch. Traditional woven area rugs seamlessly connect pieces in the room together. For an extra authentic flair, pepper walls with paintings (or prints), especially old European-type masterpieces depicting portraits (think Rembrandt), pastoral scenes, landscapes, and beach scenes. Braided rope can fasten drapery with fringe, tassels, and beadwork. Lighting can sometimes be dramatic, integrating chandeliers with fine ironwork, candelabras, and hanging lanterns.
Of course, the Old World style hearkens back to a time that was at once simpler and organic regarding the materials used, but also luxurious and majestic in the application of various craft arts of the era. It draws upon late Renaissance ideals. Have fun experimenting with it. Perhaps Old World style will experience a rebirth in your home!
Want to add to this article? Have you tried to include this style in your home? Let me know in the comments section below. I’d love to hear your suggestions and ideas.
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