The inspiration for Aristocratic Romance stems from the elegant, aristocratic homes of 18th and 19th century England. This era corresponds to the Romantic period in literature, popular for idealizing ideas of freedom, individuality, and finding beauty in the ordinary. Travel and colonization also increased, as did the exchange of new goods and materials. This is the period of romantic poetry, moving political writings, and the gothic style. Aristocratic Romance takes its cues from the Romantic era's many expressions and explanations of love, beauty and drama. The overall decorating scheme results in a regal, dramatic look, perfect for both entertaining guests and being alone, with a selection of rich details to showcase an appreciation of artisanship.
Imagining Aristocratic Romance begins with dark, carved wood and lush fabrics in jewel toned colors. Many period movies showcase typical furniture and styles, which can be altered to achieve an updated look. Introducing lighter tones in lighter fabrics, such as cream colored sheer drapes, will help balance the darkness often evoked with the vintage look, making the style a livable option for any home. Rooms perfect for Aristocratic Romance style include but aren't limited to living rooms, dining rooms, and bedrooms, especially those with high ceilings and grand entrances, such as French doors. By paying attention to colors and including whimsical details the style can be down played, translating into a fairy tale version suitable for children's bedrooms and playrooms.
In this article you'll learn:
- Top color choices for an Aristocratic Romance decor style.
- Textures and fabrics most aligned with the decorating theme.
- Finishing touches to consider utilizing.
- How to include vintage finds without making the room look stale.
- Combining the vintage filled Aristocratic Romance with a sleek Modern Luxury style.
*DECORATING TIP When decorating a child's bedroom, choose furniture that will work well for years to come. It's easier and cheaper to change the colors and fabrics every few years rather than redo everything.
Although multiple color schemes work in Aristocratic Romance, the main palettes tend to be whites and creams, reds and earth colors, blues, and yellow to golds. Blues are the most traditional, while the yellow palette tends to be the most Americanized, akin to the Georgian style which emerged towards the late 19th century. It's similar in some aspects to traditional Aristocratic.
Richer tones of the color palette retain the regality associated with the style, while lighter tones add much needed contrast. Carefully chosen accent colors will boost the characteristic drama of the style.
Keep the color palette from becoming too monotone by incorporating similar tones of varying colors. If a room has beautiful, dark stained hardwood floors and similar stained furniture, spark up the overall look by choosing a rich jeweled mahogany table or deep blue armoire.TEXTURES AND FABRICS
In addition to the traditional lace, muslin, taffeta, and velvet, a put together Aristocratic Romance room can feature beautifully patterned fabrics such as Kilim, paisley, and Persian rugs. Due to the advent of easier travel and trade, these items could have very well been found in an 1800s upperclass English home.
The key to including an array of fabrics in a room design is balancing the colors, fabric weight, and patterns. Although coloring and patterns don't add to physical weight of fabric, they can create a heavier appearance. Here are a few guidelines in terms of fabric material, color, and pattern in correlation with general weight (guidelines only):
Light Weight: Heavy Weight:
- Lace - Velvet
- Silk (lighter toned) - Silk (richer, jewel tones)
- Paisley prints (lighter colors) - Paisley prints (richer colors)
- Muslin - Wool (as in tapestries)
- Smaller floral patterns - Large floral patterns
- Leather (for chairs and ottomans)
- Persian rugs
Maintaining a good balance of light and heavy weight fabrics will keep a room from looking too overdone or incomplete. When it comes to mixing prints, try utilizing a large print, a geometric style print, and a smaller print, each with colors from the overall color scheme. More patterns can easily escalate into too many for one room. To help visualization, take samples of each potential fabric and affix them to a board or the wall. If the patterns appear to mismatch try:
- Adding a solid color fabric or a paisley print in a solid color (the print is created by alternating the weave direction)
- Check the coloring to ensure each pattern works within the larger scheme. Try finding a similar pattern in another tone if this appears to be the problem.
- Pay attention to the fabric. Are the weights all heavy or all light? It could be as simple as choosing another fabric material with a similar pattern to achieve balance.
- If you're stuck, choose a floral print, geometric print, and a print that complements both.
One final tip for patterns: bigger prints will distribute attention throughout the room while smaller prints focus attention. If you're trying to highlight a focal point, such as a fireplace, try keeping a generous border around the area with large floral wallpaper covering the rest of the walls. The border can be either painted in an appropriate color or covered with a smaller pattern wallpaper, either way the contrast will focus the eye's attention.
Most spaces in an elegantly Aristocratic Romantic styled room benefit from the addition of fabrics patterns and colors, to include:
- Windows with pooling rich, heavy silk and damask balanced with soft gauzy muslin or lace.
- Tassels and fringe on throw pillows and sofas add much desired elegant touches.
- Warm up dark stained hardwood floors with colorful Turkish and Persian rugs.
- Add elegance to windows with generously draped valences and long pooling drapes.
- On windows where long drapes may imbalance overall proportion, or in tight spaces where long drapes take up much needed space for furniture, consider hanging London or balloon style shades. Both offer volume and richness perfect for Aristocratic Romance.
- For a touch of masculinity, incorporate a leather chair or ottoman.
When dealing with a large array of fabrics remember to keep them in the same color scheme and balance light weight with heavy weight. Be playful and open to possibilities, you may be surprised to find some seemingly contrasting fabrics and patterns tie a room together very well.
*DECORATING TIP Wall to wall plush carpeting instead of Romantic-style hardwood? Don't worry, cover the carpeting with Persian or Kilim rugs to add color, or leave the carpeting bare and utilize generous table skirts and long drapes for their pooling fabric.
The furniture should be refined and elegant. Carved wood detailing works well, as does tufted seating. Look for tight backed and tight cushions on couches and chairs for tidy elegance.
Well-chosen styles include camelback, Chesterfield, French settee, and English three-seaters.
In terms of the seating's legs, Aristocratic Romance can be very forgiving: carefully carved wooden legs look great alongside tight, kick-pleated skirts, and even regal, gold bullion fringed seats. Mixing and matching various styles of legs and fabrics will help keep balance in the regal decor: imagine a softer clothed skirt on a couch alongside beautifully carved wooden table legs, and beside a special, gold fringed chair- the eye will wander from detail to detail.FINISHING TOUCHES
The Aristocratic Romance decorated room is geared towards showcasing beauty. Here are some ideal objects to place within the room:
- A beautiful chandelier acts as a focal point and bright light source. Go vintage for more of an 18th century feel or whimsical for a bit of chic casual. There are plenty of options available, and remember that spray paint can turn a decent flea market find into something spectacular.
- Candlesticks, particularly gold, silver, and crystal candlesticks add elegance and can be used for ambient light.
- A great option for bookworms is neatly stacked piles of books, especially older books to channel Romance era thought-provoking questions and give guests something to browse through.
- Porcelain or crystal vases and bowls corral smaller items and hold fresh flowers.
- Carved wooden boxes, especially those with mother of pearl inlays add artisanal elements.
- Topiaries celebrate a regal style of landscaping while bringing in natural elements into the room.
- Vintage bird cages add whimsy, while ornate desk clocks are practical and beautiful.
- If French doors are possible, the dramatic entryway is well worth the installation.
- For texture and interest, add cornices on the ceiling, chair rails to walls, and molding to books shelves for a built-in appearance.
Considering the aforementioned finishing touches, selection of some items over others should garner a specific underlying theme. Consider the moods set forth by bird cages in a girl's playroom and ornate desk clocks in a serious home office. Taking the concept further and showcasing a collection of items, for example bird cages, is a wonderful decorating trick. Keep the collection to one per room to avoid a storeroom look.
STYLE LESSON- WORKING A FRESH VINTAGE APPROACH
It's apparent from the suggested fabrics and objects that fit within an Aristocratic Romance styled room that it's easy to collect materials from thrift stores and even Grandma's attic. With so many older items, how does the Aristocratic Romance style remain fresh and avoids crossing the line to cluttered storeroom? Tidiness and balance.
Tidiness means keeping items dust-free and neatly placed. If dusting becomes tedious or there isn't a place to put down a drink or stack of papers, there may be too many displayed items. Also, as previously mentioned, stick to one collection of items per room, this also helps keep trinkets balanced.
SURPRISING FIT- ARISTOCRATIC ROMANCE, SLEEK MODERN LUXURY STYLE
Aristocratic Romance fits well into a traditional style of decor: well crafted furniture, rich colors, attention to detail, and straightforward fabrics generously applied. Modern style could not be more opposite: sleek furniture, bright to neutral colors, expansive space, and geometric or abstract patterned fabrics. What happens if the two styles are combined? It's beautifully interesting.
Three things to remember with Aristocratic Romance combined with Sleek Modern Style:
1) Let the light in. Choose lighter weight fabrics in lighter tones. Plug in bright lamps with traditional style bases but modern shades, or modern fabrics on traditional style shades.
2) For fabrics: go brighter, fresher flowers, and more geometric. Look for patterns that appeal to both traditional and modern schemes. Another option is to choose one very traditional pattern and use it among a modern monochromatic color scheme.
3) Find ways to marry traditional and modern. Put a rich blue traditional style dresser in a sleek, marbled bathroom for unexpected drama. Drape a rich gold colored slipcover on a sleek modern couch then place matching porcelain vases on the end tables.
It's evident when combining two opposite styles thinking out of the box is a requirement. The wonderful thing is each version of the styles can be interpreted differently and varies from room to room. Here are some tips to help spark imaginations:
- A traditional china cabinet is updated with a coat of surprising colored paint on its interior.
- Mis-matching antique tea cups are beautiful, traditional, but suggest just the slightest carefree factor. Use them for tea, or plant succulents inside each cup.
- Hang oil paintings framed in ornate gold gilded frames. They'll add an Aristocratic touch next to a modern style china set in a dining room.
- Cover modern, or even unsightly tables with generous yards of table cloth.
- In a bedroom, use an elegant, tufted headboard in a fun or unexpected color or fabric.
- Finish the room with whimsical trinkets to downplay the formality associated with Aristocratic Romance and even Sleek Modern.
Just like marrying any two styles, thinking outside the box is paramount. Look for unexpected ways to combine the two styles, or interlace one style per decorating component to at least keep one another in balance.
Aristocratic Romance showcases rich details, generous fabrics, and an appreciation for artisanship. With so much going on in the style, its easy to get overwhelmed. Begin with an inspiration piece: a couch, a fabric pattern, a table, then work from there. Decide on a color scheme then choose fabrics and paint colors accordingly. Look for complementary furniture pieces. Don't be afraid to paint furniture or add new hardware and even molding to amp the regal factor. Finally, tidiness and balance are key to keeping the room regal and not storeroom quality.
Key elements for achieving a Aristocratic Romance style:
- Theme: A regal look with rich fabrics, an array of patterns, and a selection of rich details to showcase an appreciation of artisanship and drama.
- Color: The main palettes tend to be whites and creams, reds and earth colors, blues, and yellow to gold. Traditionally, go for blue dominant, for American style, opt for yellow.
- Textures and fabrics: Balance rich fabrics and colorful patterns with lighter weight fabrics. Choices include lace, muslin, silk, velvet, taffeta, Persian rugs, and floral and Paisley prints. Leather furniture adds masculine touches in the feminine inclined decor.
- Furniture style: Refined and elegant to include intricately carved wood, straight backed chairs, and tufted couches.
- Objects to pull it together: Get creative with chandeliers, carved wooden boxes, vintage bird cages, porcelain vases, vintage tea cups, topiaries and stacks of books.
Words of caution:
- The Aristocratic Romance color scheme lends itself towards richer palettes. Be sure the colors work well for the size of the room. Don't be afraid to limit darker colors to an accent wall to avoid room shrinkage.
- Some traditional style couches aren't made for lounging. Choose a couch that functions well for your lifestyle- it's more important to be functional rather than beautiful.
- Keep items tidy and dust-free. If cleaning becomes tedious, the trinket collection may need to be dispersed.
- Remember the rule of three for using fabrics: a large print, a geometric, and a smaller complementary print. More patterns may make balancing difficult, with the except of solid color patterns.