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Historical Interior Styles: Let’s Decode

Historical Interior Styles: Let’s Decode

Published by Leonardo Calcagno

It’s easy to get lost in the variety of interior styles – there are so many of them, and each has its own unique features. When planning the furnishings of your own home, the easiest way is to start from one basic direction. In this article we will talk about historical styles and how to adapt them to the current interior, when modern trends are on the heels.

Why Should You Know and Distinguish Historical Styles?

Creating an interior in a historical style needs to be approached with special attention. If you do not carefully study the culture of the chosen era, there is a risk of encountering disharmony of space. A historical design put together in a hurry can end up being too theatrical and tacky.

The historical style is suitable for you if:

You prefer time-tested classics to experiments;

There is enough space in your home for voluminous furniture and decorative items;

You are ready to make significant investments in the furnishings of your home, since historical styles are based on expensive materials and things.

Laconic minimalism is alien to you. But an abundance of details, luxury and pomp, on the contrary, are synonymous with comfort for you.

History of the Formation and Development of Interior Design

People have long sought to furnish their homes. So it is difficult to say with precision when exactly the concept of interior design originated. The understanding of beauty varied depending on the era, region, philosophy and way of life of people. But humanity quite early began to think not only about the practicality, but also about the beauty of their homes. In Ancient Egypt and China, they created original pieces of furniture. They decorated rooms with rich finishes and decorative elements. They are now rightfully considered works of art.

Architecture was actively developing in Europe. Examples of ancient Greek buildings and temples still remain the standards of ideal proportions. Ancient art, in its heyday, nurtured the ideal harmony and geometry of architectural forms. An important role was played by the thesis “man is the crown of nature”. Thanks to that, the principle of proportionality between man and space was formed.

The decoration of the house differed in each country and locality. The climate, occupations of people, their well-being, moral values and, of course, epoch-making events influenced the situation. The borders of states changed, peoples mixed and moved, new religions were born, science and technology developed. And at the junction of these changes, housing was transformed. Some directions faded into oblivion. Others absorbed extraneous features. And others managed to retain a recognizable appearance to this day.

Modern interior design has incorporated many trends, most of which are rooted in the past. New styles are based on a solid foundation laid in antiquity, but look to the future. Interior design today is a combination of comfort, ergonomics, technology, visual aesthetics and high quality. Much attention is paid to environmentally friendly materials, know-how in equipping a home, and efficient use of space. A person with his needs for convenience and beauty, as well as individuality, has again come to the fore. The modern interior is not impersonal and is able to tell about its owner right from the threshold.

What Are Historical Styles In the Interior

Any interior style implies the presence of characteristic features of design, decoration, furniture and decor. This is a certain general concept, recognizable by its striking features.

Historical interior styles have been formed over the centuries in inextricable connection with the changes that humanity has gone through. Architecture had a great influence.

Historical Interior Design Styles

At first glance, it is easy to get confused in historical styles, because many details seem similar. But each of them has bright signs that will help to recognize one or another design direction in the spirit of past centuries. Let’s figure out how to distinguish classicism from baroque, and empire from rococo.

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Perhaps classicism can be called the most restrained of all palace styles. Despite the obvious elegance, it demonstrates precise elegance and calm lines. Classicism, as a separate movement, emerged from the royal residences of the 17th century and was inspired by ancient ideals. It was he who had a strong influence on the further development of interior trends in Europe. And it is still considered the benchmark among historical design concepts.


Baroque interiors are distinguished by demonstrative luxury and pomp. There is not even a hint of modesty in them: Baroque is chosen by those who like “all the best at once.” Baroque design is all about exuberance, grandeur and drama, originating from 16th century Italy.

Empire Style

The era of Napoleon Bonaparte’s reign was marked by the Empire style in the interior. Even its name can be translated as “empire”. It quite accurately speaks about the aesthetics of such decoration. Scale, status and triumph in all its manifestations. Empire style is most organic in spacious rooms.

Gothic Style

Gothic style replaced massive Romanesque architecture. And, thanks to innovations in building design, rushed upward. This style is distinguished by its vertical orientation. All its elements – arched vaults, lancet windows, spiral staircases – seem to reach towards the sky. In a modern interior, Gothic is an infrequent guest, but individual elements can be adapted to a space with a current design and add mysticism and drama to it.

What to Combine Historical Styles Within the Interior?

You can integrate historical styles into the interior using trends such as eclecticism and vintage. Let’s look at a few more ways to integrate ancient interior styles into modernity.

Baroque, Empire or Rococo in their original form are already too far from the tasks that designers face today. The functionality of the home, tastes and needs of people differ greatly from the lifestyle of the English court aristocracy or French nobles. The area of the apartments also differs, which bears little resemblance to the spacious halls of Versailles.

However, the color and luxury of past centuries still attract consumers today. Not everyone likes the severity of minimalism or the simplicity of Scandinavian interiors.

Bringing together the past and the present within the framework of one design is more difficult than taking a clear new style and developing a concept for it. But with the right approach, this task is feasible.

5 principles for creating a harmonious interior with history:

Do Not Mix Several Styles In One Room

Despite the fact that eclecticism and fusion are built on a mix of styles, they do not pretend to be historic. In order for ancient motifs in the interior to be recognizable and predominant, it is better to choose one direction. One of the most popular is classicism, on the basis of which neoclassicism was formed, which rejected the excessive decorativeness of the original style, but retained its aristocracy and recognizable features. It may seem that some historical styles are very similar and can easily mix, but this is not so: for example, the romanticism of Rococo and the military paraphernalia of the Empire contradict each other in meaning. It is better to opt for one thing.

Based On the Dimensions Of the Housing and Its Geometry

Baroque furniture or Gothic stained glass windows require a lot of space to maintain their appeal. In a small apartment, it is unlikely that it will be possible to recreate the painted ceilings of the Renaissance or the Empire colonnade. But restrained classics or a more intimate Victorian style can fit into standard rooms.

Stick to Authenticity

Pay attention to the details, they are what make the historical aesthetic believable. Stretch ceilings or built-in light, despite practicality, contradict historicism. The same goes for overly modern furniture and decor. It is worth studying in advance what elements are stucco moldings, moldings, cornices, etc. – were characteristic of the chosen style and select the most similar ones.

Avoid Theatricality

You shouldn’t create a branch of a museum or a decoration for a historical play at home – it’s better to limit yourself to a few iconic objects and details than to try to fit everything that can be found on the topic into the room.

Avoid Simplification

Recreating a historical style in an interior requires a careful approach and considerable investment, which sometimes leads to forced simplification. But synthetic fabrics, cheap imitation of stone and wood, and foam instead of plaster make a depressing impression. This situation looks like an amateurish fake and, unfortunately, does not justify the efforts made.

Finding New in Old

No matter how life changes, no matter where technological progress strives, antique interior styles do not lose their relevance. Designers are constantly rethinking classic techniques, combining historicism with innovation and finding new facets in familiar features. The interior traditions of the past still attract with their scope and splendor. Despite the monumental nature of historical styles, it is quite possible to harmoniously fit them into modern spaces – you just need to show care and due respect for the “older generation” in the field of design. Read our digest on ethnic interior trends about the original styles of different countries.

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