This may or may not come as a surprise to you, but I am not overly fond of design fads. Sure, I like them as entertainment. I think they are fun to play with and to bet on how long they'll last, but that is usually about it. I do, however, enjoy keeping up with the trends and figuring out how to mix them with my own style. Unfortunately, that is often a difficult thing to pin down.
For the past twenty years, I have been working on defining my style by looking at the elements that weave their way through every design. It should have been much easier to figure out, but when I finally did, I realized that it was obvious all along. I am, after all, a classic. ; )
What does "classical style" mean?
Many of you may be familiar with the concept of classical music, though probably not with the specifics. What does this have to do with interior design, you may ask? Well, music often steals its stylistic names from art, so they are actually very similar.
According to the Miriam-Webster Dictionary, classical styles are "characterized by an emphasis on balance, clarity, and moderation" and often emphasize things "ancient Greek and Roman world and especially to its literature, art, architecture, or ideals." In music, this means that they avoided heavy ornamentation and looked for a pleasant balance to their pieces, which is why Mozart is so good for you. But that is a topic for another time. I'm betting you have a different question in mind, like:
What does this mean in a design?
Just like when music changed from Baroque to Classical, classic designs eschew the use of over ornamentation. Instead of heavily carved furniture and gaudy patterns, you would rely more on clean lines and subtlety. Unlike the stark sterility of ultra-modern styles, classic tries to draw on natural elements and avoids
asymmetry. Also, instead of high sheen finishes, it tends to utilize interesting and subtle textures. The color palate will tend toward neutrals and other shades that never really go out of style, like navy blue or dark green.
And one of the most important parts of classical style is the functionality of the room. If it isn't functional, it has no place in the design. It could double as storage space, extra seating, balance a large piece of art, or simply fill an empty space that was throwing off the design, but everything has a purpose and a place. This is one of the reasons that classic designs are classic! They work for you rather than making you work around them.
What about trends?
Trends have their place, but you always have to remember that that place is usurped on a regular basis. That is the thing about a classic design, though. You can incorporate trends without letting them take control of your home. Gray has been the "it" color for a few years now, but it is losing popularity because of how dreary it can make a room look. If you use it correctly by drawing on classical concepts and add some subtle pops of color, it still works! Maybe pale aqua like in this picture, or maybe one of the colors of the year. When put together well, trends can makes the design seem relevant without looking dated later on. As a bonus the pops of color can be replaced easily to refresh the space without driving up your credit card balance!
What about my love of __________ style?
Do you love traditional? How about mid-century? Rustic? Arts and Crafts? Classic style is completely adaptable! For instance, you can have a more laid back version of traditional, without the dust catchers driving you nuts during spring cleaning! The powder room pictured here shows just that. It is still very traditional, but the fancy details are sparing and all the more interesting because of it. They don't overwhelm. Gold is heavily used, but not a bright shiny gold. Instead it is an old gold that neutralizes things. There is balance and it becomes ageless.
Similarly, you can enjoy mid-century modern without feeling like you live in a museum and rustic without waking up in a hipster's loft. Just like with the trends, you use elements of the other style to subtly influence the room without overwhelming it.
What do you think?
Was this post inspiring? Instructional?
Do you see the use in it or do you hate anything classical (including music)?
Leave a comment below and share with your friends! I'll never know how you feel unless you tell me.
For more information, see the links below:
Small Design Ideas
One Kings Lane
Lindsay Hall Interiors