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25 November 2021

Go Retro: How to Furnish Period Property Interiors

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Dave Hut - Content Editor

From elegant Georgian townhouses in the heart of London to charming Victorian cottages in the countryside, there are period properties dotted all across the UK.

Furnishing period property interiors in the 21st century calls for a unique approach, with most decorators keen to create a harmonised balance of old and new. 

The goal is to show off heritage details and celebrate the period features of your property, without feeling like you’re stuck in a museum. It can seem complicated at first, but with insider tips and high-quality period furniture, you can create magazine-worthy spaces that would get the seal of approval from historic icons like King George II and Louis XV themselves.

So, if you’re lucky enough to own or rent a period property and are looking for interior design inspiration, we have it covered. Read on for our complete guide on how to make period home interiors shine.

The Victorian era

Named after one of the longest-reigning monarchs in British history, the Victorian era spanned from 1837 to 1901. The aesthetic was lavish and luxurious, with a focus on ornate furniture, heavy textiles and rich colours. Victorian interiors reflected the sumptuous fashion trends of the time, which saw ladies step out in full silk skirts, tightly laced corsets and hand-embroidered bonnets.

The Victorian era was all about opulence, which naturally led to a trend in oversized furniture. Think elegant pedestal dining tables, high-backed chairs and generously sized sofas and armchairs. In terms of colours, the Victorians favoured rich hues like forest green, ruby red, dark burgundy, royal blue and warm chestnut. This moody colour palette complemented the over-the-top interiors by adding drama. Victorians also loved knick-knacks, making this interior design style ideal for vintage collectors.

A family-friendly approach to Victorian interiors

Of course, not all Victorians lived in mansions and manor houses. For many Victorian Brits, styles remained practical and family-friendly. At furniture.co.uk, our Florence range is a love letter to this period, inspired by classic 19th-century homes.

In the countryside, homeowners combined elements of extravagant Victorian interior design trends with traditional farmhouse décor. This created an aesthetic that was less palatial and a little more down-to-earth – just like our natural wood-grain tables.

Trends that are built to last

Unlike today where mass-produced furniture is considered the norm, Victorian furnishers opted for heirloom-quality pieces. Our Florence collection takes this idea to heart, with every piece hand-crafted from the finest quality wood for long-lasting durability. We’ve even added period details like panelled doors, evocative of the furniture that graced homes 150 years ago.

Despite the era’s lavish décor, practicality was always a top priority, which is why our Florence dining furniture features durable acacia wood tops that are more than capable of withstanding everyday wear and tear.

Getting creative with your Victoria colour palette

The beauty of the Florence range is its subtle and easy to customise colour palette. As well as white, you’ll also see shades like navy blue, truffle, dove grey and sage green. If you’re going for a dramatic look, navy blue period furniture will help you achieve that luxe Victorian aesthetic.

Elevate the look with retro wallpaper, luxe curtains and gilded lamps. Or, if you’re coveting a country-inspired space, earthy shades like truffle and sage green will help to soften your interiors and create a vintage look with a contemporary edge.

The Georgian era

Like the Victorian era, the Georgian period is named after the reigning monarch of the time. Though interestingly, the period covers the reign of not just one King George, but four! It began in 1714 and spanned to the late 1830s, with the era ushering in significant social change as well as some unique interior design trends. 

The style is defined by symmetry and elegance, with designers drawing inspiration from classical Roman and Greek architecture. Some of the most beautiful buildings in London are Georgian, with dramatic roof friezes, soaring pillars and imposing facades. Think 10 Downing Street, the British Museum, Wellington Arch, Bedford Square and Benjamin Franklin House. All of these Georgian masterpieces are beautifully bold and solidly built, with architects designing for impact and longevity. 

Recreating the elegance of carved stone

Our Gainsborough range captures this aesthetic with a beautiful collection of Georgian style furniture. The first thing you’ll notice is the statement lines and bold, square structures. Generously-sized frieze tops and beautifully fluted sides recreate the elegance of carved stone and add both grace and delicacy to the furniture.

The collection is named after Thomas Gainsborough, one of the most revered British artists of the 18th century. He painted both portraits and landscapes, and along with rival Sir Joshua Reynolds, he’s considered one of the most influential Georgian artists in history. In fact, Gainsborough was so well-loved that he became a favourite with British royalty, including King George III.

The French Renaissance era

When it comes to romance, nothing compares to the dreamy French Renaissance era. The term isn’t used exclusively for architecture and design, with French Renaissance used to describe a dramatic artistic and cultural movement that evolved in the country between the 15th and 17th centuries.

The style was championed by French kings, who combined elements of French Gothic architecture with inspiration from the Italian Renaissance period. King Charles VIII started the trend with the construction of a lavish chateau in the Loire Valley, with his architects throwing out the traditional rule books and designing ornate yet elegant masterpieces.

A romantic approach to interiors

The style naturally filtered down to furniture, with French Renaissance designers creating furniture that captured the romance of the time. Our Juliette range is a modern take on French Renaissance furniture, with romantic designs featuring curved wood panels, elegant, tapered legs and intricate sweetheart friezes. All pieces are hand-carved, resulting in a tactile finish with no sharp corners or harsh lines.

While the French Renaissance spanned for several centuries, our designs are largely inspired by the palaces of Louis XV.

Dainty meets dramatic

While French Renaissance furniture should be made from solid wood, it shouldn’t look bulky or imposing. Look for designs that are raised off the floor with dainty legs, a clever element that gives French Renaissance furniture its genteel appearance.

If your style is more chateau than country cottage, you’ll love the dazzling Juliette Gold range. It elevates classic designs from the Juliette collection with metallic gold paint for incredible shine and depth of colour.

Tips for decorating period properties

Looking for more period home interiors inspiration? Read on for our expert tips for decorating period properties.

Keep things light and breezy

One of the best ways to keep your period property feeling fresh and modern is to opt for a lighter colour palette. While it can be tempting to create drama with dark Victorian-inspired shades or throw in a feature wall, colours like white, cream and light grey will give your space timeless appeal.

With a neutral backdrop, you’re free to get creative with period home ideas and add statement pieces like a hand-carved wooden wardrobe in your bedroom or a navy blue sideboard and matching display cabinet in your kitchen.

If you can’t resist the allure of dark walls, consider brightening things up with white wooden furniture and accents. A dark blue wall will look cinematic alongside contrasting antique white pieces from our Juliette range.

Get creative with window dressings

Many period properties, particularly those from the Victorian and Georgian eras, have high ceilings and large windows. Window dressings are a fantastic opportunity to channel your chosen era and tie your room together. For example, heavy velvet drapes can be a stunning addition to a bedroom, helping to block out morning light and add a touch of drama to your boudoir. In a country kitchen, crisp white linen curtains can help the space feel bright and cheerful. 

Blend the old with the new

The beauty of period property interior design in the 21st century is the freedom to blend the old with the new. For example, you may choose to put a modern spin on a classic Victorian-style dining table by pairing it with ultra-modern chairs. This type of eclectic look is so deliberate that it makes a big style statement.

Another great option is reupholstering an antique armchair or sofa with contemporary fabric. Bold stripes are a great option and will give even the shabbiest antiques modern appeal. Pairing period-inspired furniture with modern art is another way to blend the old with the new.

Invest in heirloom-quality pieces

Victorian, Georgian and French Renaissance were all dramatically different furniture design eras. That said, they all share one major similarity – quality. Period designers simply didn’t have the luxury of limitless materials. Similarly, homeowners couldn’t afford to keep upgrading furniture every decade or so. Items were built to last, with staples like solid wood truffle or white dining tables and matching dining chairs often passed down for generations.

Investing in heirloom-quality pieces is one of the best ways to make your space feel authentic and luxurious. Yes, there is a difference between a mass-produced French Renaissance-style chair and a hand-carved counterpart designed right here in the UK by a local, family business. Cheap, factory-produced furniture is one of the fastest ways to spoil the aesthetic of your period home and make it feel gimmicky.

Covet carved wood

Unlike today, interior designers of times gone by didn’t have access to furniture-making machinery. Everything was made by hand, right down to lamps, picture frames and side tables. Incorporating carved wooden accessories into period style homes is one of the most effective ways to capture the grandeur of the era.

Spruce up your fireplace

If you’re on the hunt for period home ideas, chances are you’ve got a few fireplaces to play with in your traditional property. Adding a mantle is a fantastic way to show off your fireplace and celebrate the character features of your period home. Antique stores and vintage markets are both great places to pick up unique mantles.

If you already have a beautiful period mantle to work with but want to revamp it, consider painting it a modern shade like charcoal grey or royal blue. Both look incredible against white walls and will make your mantelpiece pop. 

When you’ve finished remodelling your fireplace, give it a contemporary makeover by displaying oversized artwork, lush houseplants, scented candles and other modern décor accessories on and around it.

More is more

While we love an on-trend minimalist space, more is more when it comes to period-style homes. The Victorian, Georgian and French Renaissance eras were all about showing off wealth and furniture played a big role in doing so.

Big, bold furniture designs were used to create a luxurious aesthetic everywhere from the kitchen to the bedroom. The same concept applies to accessories, with large lamps, wall mirrors and rugs taking precedence over their compact counterparts.

DIY art galleries

Art plays an enormous role in influencing architecture and interior design trends. For interior decorators, it’s also a fantastic form of self-expression. When decorating period properties, don’t be shy about transforming your walls into mini art galleries. While hanging a single oversized oil painting in a gilded wooden frame may feel dated, pairing it with other framed artworks can help to modernise the look.

Furniture for period style homes

Now you’re all set with interior design ideas for period homes, it’s time to start shopping. Whether you’re looking for a French Renaissance-inspired bedroom suite from our Juliette range or you want to upgrade your dining set with the help our of Florence collection, you can breathe new life into your period property with our beautifully made, heirloom-quality furniture.

Explore our full range of furniture online or, if you can’t find exactly what you’re looking for, contact us to discuss our custom furniture options. Additionally, if you’d prefer a slightly more contemporary aesthetic, we also offer a range of 70s-inspired furniture designs.

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Dave Hut
Content Editor

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