With all these possessions to display, dressers, cabinets, commodes, consoles and bookcases were important items of furniture. Dark polished timbers featuring ornate carving and detailed inset work were popular for living room furniture, as well as for dining room tables and chairs, side tables, bedheads and coverings. Depending on the era, decorative timberwork was also painted in light colours offset with gold embellishment, or even painted with frivolous scenes or floral ideas.
This tranquil living room is part of a renovated Federation home by award-winning design firm Hare + Klein. There is a wonderful combination of modern furniture – like the mid-century style leather armchair and woven light shade – and classic design pieces from the Federation era – like the display cabinet, marble and tiled fireplace, and timber floorboards. Photo by Anson Smart.
In rural homes, the look was more rustic. Timber furniture could be found in light and dark tones, the finishes were not as decorative, and simpler colour palettes were used. At times, wire replaced glass on cabinets and dressers.
The Baroque style dominated art and design in Europe during the 17th and 18th centuries. The movement was characterised by highly decorative, bold and ornate materials on a grand scale. The aristocracy had the means and control to influence art and design. French kings Louis XIV, Louis XV and Louis XVI are particularly renowned for their influence over furniture and interior design throughout their reigns. They wanted to glorify the monarchy through the extravagance and beauty of their palaces. Many of the shapes and styles of these periods continue to be reproduced and reinterpreted in modern design.
In England and Australia, design periods have been classified and influenced by the monarchs at the time. Tudor, Elizabethan, Queen Anne and Georgian style references can be seen in Australia’s architecture today. While Victorian and Edwardian architecture and design are prevalent in Australian capital cities such as Sydney, Melbourne, Adelaide and Hobart.
When it comes to finishes, wooden is the obvious choice – either stained dark or painted with an antique finish. Covered furnishings are not only comfortable but complete the look, with fabrics such as velvet, wool and satin all adding texture, depth and detail. Leather is certainly a classic choice.
Decorative wood panelling was often used on walls along with detailed skirting, cornices, architraves and ceiling roses. Don’t be afraid to use colour to highlight these features if you have them in your home. A deep, rich colour palette is a strong old-world design tool, as discussed in the ‘Colour’ section below. Patterned or textured wallpaper is also in keeping with the look.
Wooden parquetry flooring was popular throughout the 17th century across Europe and is an enduring and beautiful flooring option available today. Floor tiles, polished timber and plush carpet will also complement old-world interiors.
That’s just a few Old-World Antique interior design ideas, do you think that fit in any of your recent project?