Georgian Interior Design for Your Home

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Published: 29th October 2012
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Georgian architecture and interior decoration are enduring design and style favourites for many people. The Georgian period is named after the eponymous kings of the era, starting with George I’s ascendency in 1714 and ending with George IV in 1830, however as styles change more slowly than kings the Georgian ‘style’ often incorporates several extra years at either end. For those who are lucky enough to own a Georgian property, decorating it in the appropriate style can really make the most of your house and bring out an air of elegance. However, adding certain elements of the Georgian style can also work well in more modern houses. Whether your house is Georgian or more modern, adding a Georgian flavour to the decoration can add style and flair to your property.

Georgian buildings are probably best recognised by their windows. Windows were an indicator of wealth so many Georgian buildings often feature a large number on the front of the house. Architecture of the period was also very concerned with proportion and balance so windows were often of a particular size, with the windows on the top floors smaller than the windows on the first floor. Sash windows were very popular. This is where the window is made of moveable panels forming a frame for the panes of glass. Replacing your windows can be a mammoth task – an easier option for adding Georgian style to your home is through the addition of shutters. In this period shutters were very popular, they were often interior shutters made of panels of wood that folded back to act as a window surround. Some Georgian houses did have exterior shutters but this is more common in the Colonial Georgian style. The interior shutters would fold back during the daytime, often the panels were made up of two panelled leaves with one extra leaf on one side or they featured two leaves on both sides. Many houses featured tier-on-tier shutter styles where the top half and the bottom half were independent. This meant that a certain amount of privacy could be had without blocking out all the light.

The Georgians had very specific ideas when it came to colour schemes. Pale and pastel colours were popular choices in the later part of the period while strong colours like burgundy and sage green were top in the early years as they were associated with luxury (a hangover from the Restoration era). Light and airy colours such as pale greens, blues, pinks and greys were key colour schemes in this era. In order to achieve this look you kind find a number of paint companies that have ‘heritage’ ranges that match the colours used in different historical periods. Accent touches were added with a hint of gold paint. The Georgians were also fans of wallpaper although they did not use heavy or highly patterned paper. Simple light patterns were often used, usually in repeating patterns (such as trefoils or in Chinese-esque styles). Different variations of panelling and wainscoting were also used on the walls, with the wood painted in light colours. The panelling rarely covered more than half of the wall as most Georgians divided their walls horizontally into three sections. In order to achieve this dado rails and picture rails were often key decorative features.

Some of the most important interior design features of Georgian houses are the moulding and cornices. The Georgians loved their moulding and would add intricately carved decorations throughout their houses. Many houses feature ‘ceiling roses’ which are the elements attached to the ceiling from which a chandelier or light fitting would hang. These roses are often very detailed and carefully designed – some can be very large and act as something of a focal point in the room. Cornices were used to decorate the edges of the ceiling and walls and often featured ribbons, urns and other designs inspired by the ancient Roman style. Many buyers will look for original mouldings when they are looking for a Georgian house. Unfortunately many have been ripped out and removed throughout the years. There are however a number of companies that specialise in creating replica mouldings. For those who do have original decorative elements, you can find companies that can restore the mouldings and fix any problems.

Floors were often left bare revealing the floorboards and ornamental rugs that featured oriental designs were popular. There were some examples of wall to wall carpets but this was not the case in the majority of houses. Some floors were made of stone and marble (usually in the grander houses). A more achievable option today is to use a floor covering that emulates the look of marble or stone. In terms of lighting, chandeliers often hung from a ceiling rose in the centre of the room. Although lighting in the Georgian period was not powered by electricity, you can find electric chandeliers today in a variety of styles. Georgian chandeliers were usually made from metal or wood and were decorated in a similar style to the mouldings. Adding decorative wall sconces will also give your home a Georgian air – these were usually made in brass or silver. Unlike today, where the television is often the focal point of the room, in the Georgian period the fireplace was a key feature. Usually fireplaces were made out of stone or marble – if your house does not have an original fireplace, a modern version can easily be painted to look the part.

Once you have styled your walls, floors and ceilings accordingly, you can add furniture. Make sure not to fill your rooms to bursting with furniture as this can detract from the simple elegance of the house. Having numerous side tables and rooms full of furniture was much more popular in the Victorian period. Keep your rooms uncluttered and try to stay away from over-powering patterned wallpaper. In terms of furniture, chaise-longues, bureaus and winged armchairs are Georgian staples. Adding Georgian interior style and design to a period house can really add an air of sophistication and bring out its best features. For more modern houses, adopting touches of Georgian design can add elegance and make the house feel like it has more history.

© Izzy Evans 2012

If you would like to find out more about adding Georgian interior design touches to your home then you can visit Interior Shutters.

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