How to Make a Neoclassical Room, Elegant, luxurious and romantic, the Neoclassical interior design style infuses any room with European formality. A style that first emerged in 18th-century Britain and France, Neoclassical decor draws on classic Greek and Roman art and architecture by featuring columns, swags, gilt, classical reliefs and opulent furnishings. This design scheme adds sophistication to any space, but avoid over-decorating with these ornate items or your room can quickly go from grand to gaudy. Neoclassical furniture embraced clean, straight lines and geometric shapes, while still incorporating some of detailed carvings so prominent in the preceding Baroque and Rococo periods. Look for refined pieces that feature design elements such as tapered, fluted or reeded legs, gold gilt accents, scrolls, medallions, rosettes and lyre designs.
Little English furniture survives from medieval times, and, as on the Continent, information must be sought in contemporary references and from the picture of domestic interiors in illustrated manuscripts. Most of these manuscripts are of French or Flemish origin, but they furnish reliable evidence on English interiors because the governing classes, who were practically the sole possessors of proper furniture, copied the domestic habits of the Continent. English oak was the chief material, but softer woods also were used. A certain amount of furniture was imported from abroad, providing new ideas for the English carpenter and joiner. The furniture usually found in important houses consisted of beds, chests, cupboards, tables, benches, and stools.
Working in The Empire Style. Charles-Honore' Lannuier, a French immigrant, was one of the first cabinetmakers to introduce this style in America, according to Schwartz. He added gilded carving to his pieces that made them elegant and appealing in his New York workshop. Duncan Phyfe's shop was influenced by this style as well in the 1820s and 1830s, but in a much more restrained way although still quite elegant in its appearance. But the more elaborate designs came out of Boston and Philadelphia. All the craftsmen working in this style were likely fed by publications of the day. They included designs based on those shown in British author Thomas Hope's Household Furniture and Interior Design and others adapted from French styles. Of course, the name Empire originating from the French wasn't used in England due to political conflicts with France at the time. The British preferred Regency as their moniker for the style with many of the same elements. Americans, being friendlier with the French than England after our own conflict for independence, took to the name Empire more readily back then, and it endures when describing these pieces today. Occasionally the term Classical will be used to describe these styles as well.
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