Romanticism & Interior Design: How It Began and How To Incorporate It Into Your Current Décor
Originally coined in late 1800s Germany, the term “romanticism” first applied to poetry and encompassed such greats as William Wordsworth. The movement did not rely on strict definitions and focused on going against established society, including religion. Romanticism wasn’t just a literary movement, though. Throughout the 18th and 19th centuries, romantic interior design and visual art also had a strong presence in romanticism and still does today.
What does Romanticism mean?
Romanticism is an artistic, literary, and intellectual movement that originated in the late 18th century and reached its peak in the 19th century. It emerged as a response to the rationality and order of the Enlightenment period and focused on the individual, emotion, imagination, and the appreciation of nature.
At its core, Romanticism rejected the strict adherence to reason and logic and instead celebrated the power of intuition, passion, and subjective experience. It emphasized the value of the individual’s emotions and inner world, emphasizing personal freedom and self-expression. Romanticism encouraged a sense of awe and wonder, embracing the sublime and the mysterious.
Main themes and characteristics of Romanticism include:
- Emotion and Individualism: Romanticism prioritized the expression of intense emotions and individual experiences. It celebrated the unique perspectives and inner lives of individuals, often exploring themes of love, longing, melancholy, and the supernatural.
- Imagination and Creativity: Romanticism exalted the power of the imagination and the creative process. Artists and writers sought to tap into their inner worlds and explore fantastical realms. Imagination was seen as a way to escape the limitations of everyday life and connect with deeper truths.
- Nature and the Sublime: Romanticism placed a strong emphasis on the awe-inspiring power of nature. It sought to capture the beauty and grandeur of natural landscapes, viewing nature as a source of inspiration, spiritual renewal, and transcendence. The sublime, which refers to experiences that are simultaneously breathtaking and terrifying, was often depicted to evoke a sense of awe and wonder.
- Reverence for the Past: Romanticism often looked back to earlier historical periods, particularly the medieval and Renaissance eras, as a source of inspiration. It embraced nostalgia and a longing for the past, seeking to revive and celebrate the ideals, art, and traditions of those times.
- Freedom and Individual Rights: Romanticism championed the individual’s rights and freedoms, advocating for personal liberty, political independence, and social justice. It critiqued social conventions, hierarchies, and the constraints imposed by society.
- Symbolism and Mythology: Romantic artists and writers frequently used symbols and drew inspiration from mythology and folklore to convey deeper meanings and explore universal truths. Symbolic imagery and allegory were employed to evoke emotions and provoke thought.
Romanticism had a profound influence on various art forms, including literature, poetry, painting, music, and architecture. It challenged traditional norms, emphasized the importance of personal experience and emotion, and left a lasting impact on Western culture, paving the way for new artistic movements and philosophies.
What Is The Romanticism approach in Interior Design?
Romanticism in interior design refers to a style that draws inspiration from the Romantic movement, an artistic, literary, and intellectual movement that emerged in the late 18th century and reached its peak in the 19th century. Romanticism celebrated individuality, emotion, nature, and a longing for the past.
When applied to interior design, the Romanticism approach emphasizes creating spaces that evoke a sense of nostalgia, warmth, and emotional connection.
Here are some key characteristics of Romanticism in interior design:
- Rich and Ornate Details: Romantic interiors often feature intricate detailing, ornate moldings, and decorative elements. This can include embellished furniture, intricate wallpapers, elaborate window treatments, and carved woodwork.
- Soft Color Palettes: Romantic color schemes typically lean towards soft, muted tones. Pastel shades such as dusty pinks, pale blues, lavender, and ivory are commonly used to create a gentle and soothing atmosphere. Deep, rich colors like burgundy and forest green can also be incorporated for a more dramatic effect.
- Luxurious Fabrics: Romantic interiors embrace sumptuous fabrics to add texture and comfort. Velvet, silk, brocade, and lace are popular choices for upholstery, curtains, and bedding. These materials enhance the sense of luxury and elegance within the space.
- Floral Patterns: Floral patterns are a quintessential element of Romanticism. Incorporating floral motifs through wallpapers, upholstery, or textiles can bring a touch of nature and femininity to the design. Roses, daisies, and other delicate flowers are commonly used.
- Vintage and Antique Pieces: Romantic interiors often include vintage or antique furniture and accessories to evoke a sense of history and nostalgia. Pieces with intricate carvings, distressed finishes, or vintage patinas can enhance the overall ambiance.
- Soft Lighting: Soft, diffused lighting is crucial in creating a romantic atmosphere. Chandeliers, wall sconces, and table lamps with soft shades or dimmers can help create a warm and intimate glow. Candlelight is also frequently used to enhance the romantic ambiance.
- Natural Elements: Incorporating natural elements is a way to connect with the outdoors and evoke a sense of tranquility. Exposed wood beams, stone accents, indoor plants, and floral arrangements can all contribute to a romantic aesthetic.
Overall, the Romanticism approach in interior design seeks to create spaces that are nostalgic, visually pleasing, and evoke a sense of emotional connection. It embraces intricate details, soft colors, luxurious materials, and a touch of nature to create an atmosphere of warmth and romance.
The Four Principles of Romanticism
Whether literary, visually artistic, or part of a home design, romanticism relies on four key principles: emotions, imagination, individual freedom, and nature. When you hear the word “romance,” you probably think of love, so it makes sense that emotions are a part of the movement. Romantics of both yesterday and today believe that humans should rely more on their emotions and intuition rather than on logic and reason.
Imagination and individual freedom are also important aspects of the movement. Romanticism rebukes cold, hard facts. Instead, it focuses on imagination in the form of spiritualism, the supernatural, and even mythology. Whimsy is key when creating a romantic interior design, perhaps because it flows right into the individual freedom. Whimsy is all about being yourself, even if society expects you to act otherwise. There is a certain freedom in being 100% true to you, and romantics value the individual thought process.
Perhaps the most important principle of romanticism is nature. From imagined forest spirits to breathtaking flora, nature has always been considered playful, passionate, and emotional. Creating an interior design based around your favorite parts of nature is thought to help your physical self and spiritual selves intertwine seamlessly.
Romanticism as a Component of Home Design
Many homes were built during the romantic era and were heavily influenced by the gorgeous castles of medieval Europe. Gothic revival, exotic designs, and Asian styles were all popular components of romanticism in architecture. Homes in the gothic revival style didn’t have towers most of the time, but they resembled gothic cathedrals from the 12th century in many other ways. Common designs included pointed windows, peaked roofs, and asymmetrical floor plans.
The term “exotic” was quite encompassing during the era of romanticism and basically meant any home that looked out of the ordinary. Sometimes, this meant Greek columns or Swiss chalets. Most of the time, it meant Asian-inspired designs, especially near the end of the 18th century.
Interior Decor of the Romantic Era
Louis XV’s love for Polish fashion and canopied beds ushered in the beginning of romanticism in interior design. Home furnishing styles were usually Chinoiserie, a European imitation of East Asian art and decor that often included flowers, plants, birds, and dragon designs. Although the style could be found throughout various rooms in a home, they were most popular in women’s dressing rooms and bedrooms.
By the late 18th century, romanticism combined with Neo-classicism to bring straight lines made of mahogany and brass to many interior rooms. Finally, the 1820s saw the Gothic Revival reach indoors as well. The furniture was individually crafted, so each piece was 100% unique and often very heavy.
Romanticism in Today’s Interior Design
Perhaps the reason the era of romance has continued to be a stronghold in the interior design world is because of its distinct ability to combine with a number of other styles. Traditionally, romanticism is seen alongside Victorian, English, and French designs, but it also pairs well with Tuscan, rustic, and country cottage themes.
The key is to incorporate the right elements. Start with a neutral color palette of soft earth tones or light pastels to soften the room. Popular options include white or cream, shades of light purple, and dusty pink. If you prefer something bolder, true red also works well in romantic rooms.
Aim for classic pieces of furniture. Plush, upholstered armchairs, sofas, and beds add comfort to the room. Create interest by including vintage dressers, desks, or tables. Romanticism is about softness, so seek out pieces with curved edges and group it around the room. For example, place a vintage bench at the end of your bed. Across the room, add a soft armchair and a side table to a reading nook.
A romantic interior design usually leans toward the feminine side with fabrics like lace and chiffon or those that have ruffles or floral designs. However, you can add more masculine decor to the room in small doses to keep it balanced in shared bedrooms or main living spaces. Satin, velvet, and wool are also popular choices.
Remember the little details as well. Extra-long curtains create a willowy, breezy mood, while silver mirrors and lamps add shine. Chandeliers and lamps should have low-wattage bulbs or dimmer switches. Large antique rugs add interest while providing comfort in any room, and finally, you can add life to the space with fresh flowers or even a bowl of your favorite fruit.
Whether you love history and have taken an interest in literary and design trends through the ages, or you simply want to add a soft touch to your bedroom or living room, it’s easy to see why the comfort of romanticism has remained a mainstay in the interior design industry. Professionals at Nazmiyal can help you find the right pieces for every room in your home the next time you redecorate.
While this blog discusses romantic interior decor as it relates to the art and ideas of the romanticism movement, this post may be inspiring you to think about romantic love. If that is the case, you’ll want to check out some of our pop art “Love” rugs by artist Robert Indiana!
Here are some beautiful rugs for your Romantic interior design:
Here are some tapestries to enhance the romantic appeal of your home decor:
This interior design blog about Romantic interior design was published by Nazmiyal Antique Rugs.