Saturday, January 15, 2011

Georgian style decorating

Georgian style decorating is elegant and well proportioned, it brings in traditional beauty and fits perfectly into a modern lifestyle. Originally, it dates from 1714 to 1837, embraceing a century under the reign of three Kings Georges, and often divided into early, mid and late Georgian period. Also known as ‘Neo-Classical‘, it was influenced by classical Greek and Roman art and architecture.

The colour schemes of the early period include burgundy, sage green and blue grey. With time they became lighter and included pea green, sky or Wedgwood blue, soft grey, dusky pink and a flat white or stone.

Floors can be bare floorboards covered with Oriental rugs. Grander houses had stone or marble floors in pale colours, perhaps a keystone pattern. You could cheat with a lino in the same pattern.

Print rooms were popular and this look is easy to recreate: paste walls from floor to ceiling with old prints and engravings or photocopies made to look old and add a coat of varnish for longevity.

Walls were still panelled but the panelling only reached dado height and the plaster above was either painted or papered. If your hall has panelling, paint the cornice the same shade as the walls but, if you have painted walls, paint the cornice to blend in with the ceiling.

Look for simple repeat patterns in wallpaper such as trefoils. Some of the original designs are still being produced today. Wallpaper was imported from the Far East so anything with a chinosierie feel to it would be in keeping. Towards the end of the Georgian style, simple block papers began to be introduced and experimented with; designs were fairly rudimentary so look for geometric patterns with squares and stripes, perhaps with darker shading behind. Consider handblocking wallpaper yourself with a stamp.

Mouldings are intricate - ceilings might have ribbons and swags, classical figures and urns. There are companies who specialise in making reproduction ones as well as firms who will restore and repair original features.

For soft furnishings, look for glazed cotton fabrics with small sprigs of flowers. The same fabric would have been used for both the upholstery and curtains. Armchairs and divans often had loose covers made from cheap ticking or striped linen, which were removed for special occasions. Curtains often had pagoda style pelmets on top.

The arrival of paraffin was a major breakthrough for Georgian lighting. Look for chandeliers made from glass, metal and wood with curved arms like an octopus for a centrepiece. Elsewhere, use wall lights in brass, silver, or silvered wood or a simple candle flame bulb. Fittings in pewter or tin were used in less grand homes.

Furniture should be delicate - wing chairs and chairs with hoop or shield backs are typical.

Fireplaces would have been the focal point of a room. They should be elegant with basket grates, cast iron backs and decorated fronts featuring swags, urns, and medallions, perhaps flanked with classical pillars. Add a firescreen painted to match the room or featuring a trompe l'oeil.

Decorative objects can include screens, fans, porcelain and lacquerwork from the Orient and bronze ornaments. Hang pictures in formal groupings, flanking the fireplace.

If your front door is Georgian it's likely to have a filigree fanlight with a canopy and pediments. Original Georgian properties had sash windows and shutters.
BBC Homes

Images: Charles Faudree

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