If you enjoy the more luxurious side of home decor, try the neoclassical style. It’s easy to achieve and has very simple rules. Try on these home decorating ideas for size.
In the mid 18th century, philosophers, writers and thinkers rediscovered the great Greek and Latin writers that had influenced their own Classical antiquity. Inspired by their views on art, nature and morals, these writers begin disseminating ideas that would change the everyday life of every European; yes, even their home style and furniture.
The style? Neoclassical. Its inspiration? The clean lines and wide open spaces of Greek and Roman temples. Its influence? Still going strong even today.
The neoclassical home
A neoclassical home is typically large and has multiple stories. One usual feature is the grand staircase at the entrance, supported by pillars on either side.
There are classical columns outside as well, sometimes only two but often many more. They add to the grand, temple-like appearance of the house.
From the outside, the home looks symmetrical. The same number of windows on the facade, of the same size, on each side of the door is an easy way to recognize it—along with the columns of course.
Inside, the neoclassical home features high ceilings, large spaces, and neoclassical embellishments such as columns, crown and floor moldings, and door and window frame moldings. These moldings can range from simple and discreet to ornate and stunning.
The total effect of this style is one of expansive luxury that we associate with the grand manors of 250 years ago.
Neoclassical furniture has quite a lot in common with modern furniture, if you can believe it. Its shapes are straight, without fancy curves or decorations. They stand rectangular or square, with sometimes rounded corners but never curved edges.
One way to differentiate neoclassical (Louis XVI) from rococo (Louis XV) styles is the shape of the legs. While rococo legs are curvy and have little “paws” at the bottom, neoclassical legs are straight and only have a few column-style decorations.
Neoclassical furniture follows its architectural style by being clean, spacious and not overly decorated (or decorative). There can be some ornamentation, but it will be minimal and won’t distract from the neoclassical, symmetrical shape of the piece.
When choosing neoclassical furniture, look for straight shapes, natural materials like unpainted wood (but still shiny and well-finished), and neutral colors like cream, grey or black. Some gilding is appropriate, but the difference between neoclassical gilding and rococo decoration is in the symmetry and abundance. Neoclassical style is always discreet and retenu, rather than exuberant and over-the-top.
Neoclassical homes look luxurious because of their use of traditional home construction materials like stone, marble and hardwood. What says “luxury” more clearly than an open entryway with a grand staircase, a chandelier and a shiny marble floor?
The neoclassical home looks best with light travertine floors, marble floors (a cousin of travertine), and medium-toned hardwood. Everything, however, should be shiny and polished. (I didn’t say a neoclassical style didn’t come with high maintenance.)
In the kitchen, a white style with neutral accents works best. You want something light, airy and spacious, and not much decorative fancy. Since marble countertops aren’t exactly the best for cooking, you can choose a marble look-alike, like a dark granite that complements the color scheme of your kitchen.
The living room should be the largest room in the house. Harwood floor is appropriate there, because it’ll help make the room look cozier and warmer. Don’t forget proper neoclassical furniture. Don’t be afraid to add decorative elements to the walls and ceilings, like moldings and trims. They make the difference between “minimal” and “neoclassical”.
In the bedroom, keep your shapes simple and your color palette minimal. You can use neoclassical trims and gilding, which look like leaves and branches. Nothing too ornate or fancy, otherwise you will fall in the “rococo” style.
Keep it luxe
Luxury isn’t just a matter of materials. It’s a matter of style, mostly. You can have a luxurious-looking home without having to use the most expensive things you can find. When thinking about a neoclassical style, you can have all the luxury it is usually associated with by choosing your furniture and decor elements carefully. But it doesn’t need to cost you an arm and a leg!