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.
Strapwork, cartouches, and grotesque masks are characteristic features of this northern Renaissance style, and are found repeatedly in the pattern books of German and Flemish artists of the time—books of ornament which circulated among and influenced metalworkers, carvers, plasterers and furniture makers throughout the north. Heavy oak tables, sometimes draw (extension) tables, had massive legs and solid stretchers. Beds were heavily draped to provide privacy, as the bed might be located in any room of the house. Folding wooden chairs and low stools, with more or less elaborate turnery, were still used, besides a new type with baluster-formed or twisted legs and arms, and straight backs heightening through the 17th century.
The cassone, or marriage coffer (hope chest), was a form on which the craftsman's skill was lavished. In addition to elaborate relief work and gilding, these coffers often were painted on the front and sides and occasionally inside the lid as well, with appropriate biblical or mythological scenes. Motifs popular with the Italian carver included cupids, grotesque masks, scrolled foliage, and strapwork. The fixed writing desk is the forerunner of the writing bureau, which became an indispensable article of furniture as writing became more general. A type of chair called a sgabello was much favoured at this time in Italy. The seat was a small wooden slab, generally octagonal, supported at front and back by solid boards cut into an ornamental shape; an earlier variety was supported by two legs at the front and one in the rear; a solid piece of wood formed the back. Another chair of the period was the folding X-shaped chair, sometimes called a Dante chair. Tables were generally oblong, supported by columns, consoles (brackets), or terminal figures, with a long central stretcher running from end to end. Italian Renaissance furniture forms reshaped the furniture of the remainder of Europe.
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