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.
First was the decoration of furniture legs with sharply profiled metal rings, one above another, like many bracelets on an arm; this was the origin of the turned wooden legs so frequent in later styles. Second was the use of heavy fringes on furniture covers, blending the design of frame and cushion into one effect; this was much lightened by Classical taste but was revived in Neoclassicism. Third was the typical furniture grouping that survived intact into the Dark Ages of Europe: the couch on which the main personage or personages reclined for eating or conversation; the small table to hold refreshments, which could be moved up to the couch; and the chair, on which sat an entertainer—wife, hetaira (courtesan), musician, or the like—who looked after the desires of the reclining superior personages. From this old hierarchy of furniture derived the cumbersome court regulations concerning who may sit and on what, that persisted for centuries in the palaces and ceremonies of monarchs.
Framed panelling had been used in ancient times, as examples found at Herculaneum testify; its reintroduction in the Burgundian Netherlands at the beginning of the 15th century was an improvement that soon spread throughout western Europe. Panelled construction solved the problem of building large surface areas, as on the front of a chest or cupboard, which before this time had been limited by the size of individual planks. These planks, usually hewn with an adz, were heavy and liable to warp and split. Panels could be cut thinner, the main strain being taken by the framework, and the furniture was therefore lighter; moreover, if the panels were not fitted too tightly in their stiles, the wood was less likely to split if it did warp. Now that it was possible to construct larger surface areas, a new range of storage furniture, cupboards and chests in particular, was developed.
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