History of Home Design: Romantic Era  

The Romantic Era was a time of quick trends that led to some of our most famous works of art. Many of the trends seen in Romantic Era design are present in new homes today. To understand the fashions of Romanticism, the history and principles of the movement must also be considered. Let this quick guide to the Romantic Era give you inspiration to give your home a Romantic twist.

Monte Visa Romantic Era Styles Canopy Bed

Monte Vista Canopy Bed

What is Romanticism?

Romanticism is defined as an artistic movement that began in Europe at the end of the 18th century through the 19th century. As a reaction against the Industrial Revolution and the Age of Enlightenment, Romanticism pushed back against progress, especially in regards to nature and new societal norms of rationalism.

All areas of art were heavily influenced by Romanticism, including literature, poetry, visual art, and home design. Intense emotional provocation mark Romantic art apart from work from the same time frame. Art movements from the past, such as Medieval art and folk art, were highly regarded and imitated by Romanticists.

Many current favorite works were created during the Romantic era. Gothicism is a sub-movement of Romanticism, encompassing architecture, genres of literature such as horror and science fiction, and visual art.

The Principles of Romanticism

  • Nature—Nature is perhaps the most important aspect of Romanticism, physically embodying feelings of whimsy, emotion, passion, and the uncontrollable. Nature, was according to the Romantics, to be left pristine and whole. Spending time with nature was to be the only way to be wholly grounded, spiritually and physically.
  • Emotions—The Romantics believed that emotions were more important than logic or reason. Emotional response was the object of many Romantic works.
  • Individual Freedom—As the Industrial Revolution progressed, individual thought and value were prized by the Romantics. The Industrial Revolution relied on common thought and effort, with little thought input from the individual.
  • Imagination—Whimsy, recall to bygone eras, folk tales and mythology, and spiritualism. Romanticism encouraged embracing the past and the supernatural.

Romantic Home Design

Romantic architecture

Photography by Pedro Ribeiro Simões

Romantic Architecture was heavily influenced by designs of designs of medieval Europe. Gothic revival architecture was inspired by 12th Century Gothic Cathedrals, but without flying buttresses and towers.

Gothic revival was popular in many American farmhouses. These houses feature Gothic attributes such as pointed windows, grouped chimneys, asymmetrical floor plans, and decorative tracery. Many plantation homes were designed in Gothic revival style. Victorian homes, with peaked roofs, delicate details, are under the Gothic Revival umbrella. These homes feature fanciful details, combined with classical architecture.

“Exotic” home design was also popular during the Romantic Era. Anything out of the ordinary was considered “Exotic”—a Swiss Chalet built in the British countryside, Egyptian-style homes, Asian architecture.  Romantic era homes featured exotic details such as Greek or Roman columns, a Sphynx guarding the entrance, or a pagoda in the garden.

Asian style architecture experienced a revival at the end of the 18th century. The Royal Pavilion in Brighton, England is a prime example of Asian inspiration in Romantic Architecture.

Interior Design During the Romantic Era

Interior design of the Romantic Era began with grand canopied beds, based on Polish fashion, was made popular with Louis XV and his court. This style of décor is marked by rich, soft fabrics, in light colors. After the French Revolution, Chinoiserie became the style for home furnishing.

Beautiful painted wallpaper, featuring birds and flowers, was a popular gift item. Chinoiseries furniture can be noted for lacquered finish and use of pagoda and dragon motifs.  Delicate and light, Chinoiserie was associated with the bedrooms and dressing rooms of ladies.

In the late 18th century, Neo-classicism came into fashion, with the excavation of Pompeii bringing renewed interest in Ancient Greece and Rome. Neo-classical design can be marked by straight, harmonious lines, ornamentation, the use of brass, and mahogany construction.

Near the 1820’s, Gothic Revival became popular, as Neo-classicism had become negatively associated.   Gothic revival furniture was medieval, heavy, and individually crafted.  This was a reaction to the Industrial Revolution, bringing in mass production. Towards the end of the Romantic era, an eclectic décor style became popular, leading to what we now most recognize as Victorian.

To incorporate Romantic touches into your home, find inspirational pictures and paintings and start with home accents. Add nature into your home with live greenery and natural colors and fabrics. A gently flowing fountain is a serene nod to nature.

Contemporary furniture continues to be inspired by Romanticism, with carved details, classic shapes, and whimsy. Finefurnituresandiego.com offers the best selection of high-quality furniture at incredible prices, so you can give your home a Romantic makeover.

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