Baroque interiors deliver a unique and emotional experience. The complexity of the the17th-century decor soars to new levels with richness and vitality. Plant-related themes create a classic style of the visual arts in grandeur and drama.
The Baroque era can be compared to expensive jewelry and intricate decorations. The actual word ‘baroque’ translates into an irregular-shaped pearl. The French refer to this time period as one with intricate decorations.
If you have thought of Baroque design as one of religious platforms or spellbound palaces, you would be right. However, the characteristics of the Baroque arts have led to other types of decor, such as Art nouveau, the Rococo style, and Louis XIV.
Imagine your senses soaking in bold, shiny colors and intricate carvings in your upscale home. The baroque seventeenth century decor can also look amazing when mixed with today’s modern style. I will explain this later when I share my baroque living room ideas.
Table of Contents
- How to Achieve a Baroque Era Living Room Style
- The Rococo Design Era
- Modern Baroque and Rococo
- What to Look for in Baroque Decor Shopping
How to Achieve a Baroque Era Living Room Style
Spacious interiors with high ceilings set the backdrop necessary for the extravagance of the baroque design. Architectural details of stucco moldings and light fixtures of crystal chandeliers can further enhance the true baroque style.
Defined classical architectural details are not easily found in today’s homes. Frescoes that once lined the ceilings of majestic living spaces have given way to the vaulted ceiling or a flat neutral surface. However, there are many ways to compensate for this by using wall decor and living room furniture to achieve a Baroque classic beauty.
Marble tile or wood is the most commonly found flooring material in this classical architecture flooring. A plush carpet is always acceptable with this type of interior design. Tapestries along an open wall can also deliver a classic appealing statement. Large Persian or Turkish area rugs in 17th century Flemish make a grand statement for the floor.
Baroque mirrors are a must-have to sensationalize the living space that often flows into the dining room or entranceway. At least one large mirror acts as a focal point of the room. Taking up at least half of the length of the wall, they embellished the sides and top with garlands of flowers or a gold leaf pattern. Other placement ideas include over a mantle or next to a Baroque lounge.
I expect the rich design to be of high quality, often accomplished with hand-carved excellence. One such designer that produces quality mirrors today is Italian decorator Roberto Giovannini.
The Baroque sofa set and arm chairs are covered in damask or rich velvet fabric. No expense is spared with exotic wood, like mahogany and ebony, that embellishes the outline of the furniture’s wooden frame. Twisted columns and pedestal feet were seen on most furniture of this day.
From seater sofas to center tables, exaggerated detail was popular.
The Rococo Design Era
By the 1730s, the Baroque decor had evolved into a more refined look. This trend continued throughout the 18th century. While the same general characteristics of heavy scrolls and wall-lined pilasters were still prominent, the grandiose appearance, fit for a king, began to subside. While a castle is nice, showcasing beauty and splendor, the overly complex design was stuffy and chilly.
Slowly, the tapestries and golden ornamentation gave way to a less rigid decor. Light and soft colors toned down the harshness and contrasting components that were popular in the Baroque style. The extreme feeling of space laden with heavy furniture was no longer a priority. It was never the intent to replace the beautiful expression of sculpture, but to exchange the ceremonial feel with one of comfort.
Most people picture Baroque living rooms with bold and bright colors. Furniture would comprise an oriental Baroque rug with a living room set of royal blue damask or bright red velvet back and seat cushions. This was a regal feeling of proper and symmetrical. Rococo changed this seriousness to frivolity by adjusting symmetrical to unsymmetrical and transposing dark and bright to light and airy.
The meaning of luxury also evolved with the Rococo Era. It replaced a demanding look of royalty with flowing semicircle arches and toned-down wavelike lines. The life of the rich and common became more closely in tune. Delicate and light-weight furniture replaced the thick sculptured legs of chairs and tables, making pieces more affordable to many.
Rococo is anything but boring. Scaled-down furniture of white and pastel colors was a welcome change from heavy-weight Baroque furnishings. Layers of gold finish still accented ornamental mirrors, but there were many more shapes and sizes to choose from. The new feeling gave homes a more relaxed, yet luxurious, look for family members and guests.
Modern Baroque and Rococo
France and Italy brought these styles to the United States, and hints of these early designs remain today. Now that you know the period style of Baroque and Rococo, your design ideas can flow for decorating in Modern Baroque.
Designs that intermingle with one another are a popular way to satisfy your love of period furniture and a modern take on today’s fast living.
Black and white as the main colors are the perfect setting for presenting sophisticated Baroque style with a modern flair. The jagged tile floor creates artwork against ceiling-to-floor windows. Natural light enhances the space for a Baroque-style velvet tufted sofa and gold shiny box-like coffee table. A fine Baroque side chair sensationalizes the living room with gold outlined floral motifs.
If you are fond of modern living rooms but are cautious in mixing too much Rococo design, stick with your traditional furniture and add only a statement piece of an oversized ornate mirror. Select high-quality large mirrors with gold ivy and flowers cresting along the top.
Above fireplaces are the perfect spot for placing a Baroque mirror or center above a couch. Place framed prints of natural materials objects of the late 17th century for an added transitional design.
Small furniture pieces can provide a hint of stylish details of Baroque or Rococo periods without taking away from the original decor. An elegant small round table with carved legs fits smoothly into a traditional living room. A Louis XV coffee table will highlight your contemporary neutral-colored furniture.
Search for different models in wood with metallic motifs. Some have glass tops that are open for showing off your treasures.
Neutrals can play an important role in creating a Chic Contemporary look with Baroque emphasis. Pleasing straight-lined sofas atop a worn Turkish rug keeps the room light and airy. Add to this a couple of side chairs of the Rococo period to blend in a unique pattern.
However, instead of searching for chairs with a deep mahogany frame, select a pair that is made of distressed wood. Next, place a shiny gold-plated console Baroque table with a marble top along one open wall. This will make an awesome focal point. As window treatments, hang swag sheers of plain pastel color to bring the room together.
Accessories of the Baroque and Rococo periods are always welcome when converting your space to a period in transition. When trying to update a space to include an elegant touch, never overlook the accessories. Large rectangular mirrors with top and side floral motifs bring a delightful touch of grace to any decor.
Use smaller wall mirrors directly across the room to expand the dimensions of your living space. Picture frames of ornate designs are also pleasing in an otherwise boring atmosphere.
Busts or statues of artists of the Baroque period are always interesting items to observe in a transitional living room. Read up on the history and entertain your guests with a few fun facts. Candles set in long bronze or gold-plated candleholders will add a regal feel to any decor that needs that extra period lift. There are hundreds of intriguing single and multiple candleholders that are stylish.
The era of Baroque was the turning point in the regal style of the 18th century. While the magnitude of the elaborate scrolls and motifs stayed behind with royalty, the base for other artistic eras could emerge. Rococo, Louis XIV, and Art nouveau had a direct relationship with the Baroque era.
What to Look for in Baroque Decor Shopping
If you are new to the period furniture scene, there are just a few facts to keep in mind when thinking about 18th-century decor.
Handmade Sculpted Wood
There was nothing cheap about the Baroque furniture. Mahogany and Ebony were the leading woods used, but many times had to be transported. Oak, chestnut, and walnut were more easily accessible. You will find no straight lines in the era of the Baroque style.
Nothing says elegance like gold and silver. Sometimes pieces get processed multiple times to get the perfect sparkling finish.
Brilliant Light Fixtures
Since they did not use electricity during the beginning of the Baroque time period, candles were the source of light. The flicker of light outlined chandeliers and candelabras in stunning ecstasy. The gold and silver heritage continues today.
Fabric and Wall Coverings
Damask was a leading fabric for the Baroque era. They made it from silk, linen, wool, or cotton. They wove a unique pattern into the fabric to create settings from nature to fill one’s home with beauty. It was a staple in many grand palaces and remains popular today.
The frame that held prints during the Baroque time was many times more interesting than the inside material. However, if you are using a majestic gold or silver detailed frame for a transitional decor scheme, never use a contemporary print that diminishes the feel of excellence. Any wall-hung tapestries should also bear a subject of the 18th century.
I will forever praise the Baroque era for bringing meaning to religious and stately forms of rule. While I consider the style overbearing by many in today’s world, the intricate designs introduced a revolution in art and music.
If you have the desire to make a statement in your living room, do not leave out the Baroque style or its offshoots of design. It can bring a new level of balanced brilliance to your living space with just a few changes.
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Karen Gillan, Senior Writer
Experienced Writer with 20+ years. Demonstrated writing experience includes technical writing, magazines, story writing, and journalist projects. Karen has a powerful media and communication background with academic training from LaSalle University (architecture, interior design) and business college courses. She loves editing novels and contributed to a national art journal.