Do you watch shows like “Downton Abbey” or travel to Europe and yearn for that Old World feel in your living space? When most people think of the Old World, they hark back to the 17th to 19th Centuries, when parlours and great rooms were quite different from the living rooms of today. Here are six tips for creating an Old World atmosphere in your home, using carefully selected antique furniture and a few key facts about days past.
If you are opting for an olde world style, that carpet just has to go. Wooden and stone floors are far more in keeping with the style, and these can then be softened with the addition of rugs. The best, and most stylish form of flooring, and one that is highly desirable in even the modernist of homes, is parquet flooring, that stunning tongue and groove style that has an highly stylised, antique look. For an authentic feel go for a walnut oak design, or something that has been brushed and oiled and has those inimitable chevrons.
There Were No Sofas Just chairs
During the same time period discussed above, there were also no sofas like you know them today. The sofa was just being invented in various iterations, and any seating for more than one person was in the form of a love seat or chaise
Instead, groups of chairs were the primary form of seating. In trying to create an Old World style for your home, consider adding antique chairs around your hearth. They’ll add interest and flexibility to your furniture arrangement, as well as a touch of verisimilitude.
Your antique chairs don’t have to match each other (in fact, it’s more authentic if no more than two are the same); they just need to match the overall decor of your home. Whether you go for Spanish-style tooled leather with studs and wooden carved frames or more delicate brocade Louis XV seating, they’ll look more Old World than anything you find on the market today.
Furniture Was Multifunctional
In all but the grandest of homes, tables in centuries past were not designated for just one purpose. The same table where dinner was served might have been used as a writing desk or place to prepare food, depending on which room it was in and the home’s layout.
Trunks were used for storage, but they also served as side tables, as the occasional table and coffee table as they are known today were, like the sofa, still being invented. Ottomans doubled as footstools and serving spaces for trays of tea or snacks.
When creating an Old World look to your home, try to capture that philosophy of furniture having multiple purposes. It makes it more fun to find alternative uses for your antique pieces, and it will actually help you with some of your storage needs.
There Was No Built-in Storage
Speaking of storage, historic homes had no built-in closets and had few, if any, built-in cabinets or bookshelves. These elements were all freestanding, which made for more interesting and changeable room arrangements.
If you’re looking for an Old World feel, think about using antique armoires, highboys and hutches to take the place of built-in storage or to complement the storage you already have. These pieces are a great way to tuck modern appliances like TVs and stereos out of the way and make for a more old-fashioned look.
Lighting Was Softer
Before the advent of electricity, homes used gas lamps or candlelight. For a truly Old World appearance to your living space, do away with harsh overhead lighting and bright bulbs. Replace them with table and floor lamps with soft incandescent bulbs or sconces and chandeliers that hold real candles. Your lighting will be softer and more flattering and will work better with the antique furniture in the room.
Giving your living space an Old World atmosphere can be fun and exciting as you comb antique shops and auctions for the perfect finds. Once you make over one room in this cozy, charming style, you’ll want to do your entire house!