The Gothic interior design style is one of the popular but unconventional design choices nowadays. For some people, the idea of a Gothic interior makes them cringe since it reminds them of those dark and spooky vampire lairs or haunted houses they see in movies or TV shows. Some only consider this style during Halloween. But some people love it and want to adopt it into their own home. If you’re one of them, learn how to incorporate the Gothic style into your interior.
But before we talk about the design characteristics and tips itself, here’s a short backstory of the origins of the Gothic style:
Back then, the Gothic interior is defined by light and ornate decorations, not some spooky and dreary colors. Though the overall tone it suggests is serious and somber, the Gothic style is also exciting and dramatic. It took the architectural stage around 1150 AD during the medieval times. During that time, it was known as the “French style.” It became the first ecclesiastical style as it was primarily applied to medieval Catholic churches. The style symbolized the Catholicism’s triumph over paganism in Europe. New, soaring cathedrals need new methods of building, so the Gothic style of architecture was born to support the extreme weight. The signature features of the original Gothic style include pointed arches, stained glass windows and ornate decorations on every surface. One popular church that was designed in Gothic style was the Cathedral of Notre Dame in Paris, France.
However, the Gothic style was designed primarily for massive churches. During the 19th century, the Victorian-era European designers revived the Gothic style, creating the Neo-Gothic architectural style. It embraces the Gothic motifs and style but used in private buildings. This is where the Gothic style in interior decoration started. Gothic designs became more dramatic and striking, so the use of dark and deep hues became popular.
The Gothic style for interiors is intricate, sophisticated, dramatic and elegant. To adopt this style in your own interior, here are some details and tips you shouldn’t miss:
1. Think pointy.
One of the defining characteristics of a Gothic interior is the pointed arcs. Lancet windows and doors – tall, narrow window with pointed arcs surrounded by heavy moldings – is often used in Gothic style houses. Some even incorporate stained glass window effect to really embrace the original Gothic style. The hallways also feature a pointed arc ceiling, which resembles the shape of the lancet. But if you can’t simply add a lancet-style window, door or hallway to your current home, you may install built-in lancet style bookshelves on one side of the living room. Or go for the more simple choice, use mirrors with a tall, arched design or get a lancet-shaped, reclaimed stained glass window and hang it on the wall as artwork.
2. Go for heavy, sturdy and ornamental furniture.
Gothic furniture is typically made of heavy hardwood and wrought iron. Tables, chairs, headboards, and cabinets are adorned with arches, legs with spiral turns, and intricately sculpted detailing. Chairs for the dining area and living room are upholstered with heavy fabrics with intricate patterns and/or Victorian details. Cabinets, drawers, and armoires are decorated with ornamental knobs. Tables and beds are made of dark wood that is carved with refined details. Gothic furniture screams luxury and creates a formal and traditional look in a room.
With that being said, going full-on Gothic is not for people who like to change the arrangement of their furniture regularly. It’s also recommended only for mansions or houses with large spaces since Gothic style welcomes furniture with heavy adornment. Small spaces may appear overcrowded, dull and trying-hard when you place Gothic elements in it.
3. Choose rich and dark colors.
Gothic style is for people who are not fond of neutrals, pastels and subdued colors. The color motif is rich and dark, which only suits the heavy furniture and majestic architecture. The Gothic interior is dark and vibrant for a dramatic effect, but it is also rich and deep to bring a sense of grandeur. Use bold and dramatic colors like black, ochre, ruby, burgundy, deep red, forest green, emerald green, plum, purple, ocean blue or gold for walls and textiles. Earth elements like wood, brick and terra cotta also give colors typically found in Gothic interiors. As an overall color tip, deep natural tones and rich jewel colors are the way to go.
4. Embrace Victorian patterns and bold texture.
Elaborate Victorian patterns bring a grand and elegant look for Gothic interiors. Walls that are not painted with bold colors are typically wall-papered with elegant patterns and textures of damask or brocade. If you want to add more drama, choose a wallpaper with a velvety texture. Panels made of dark wood, brick or stone are also used to add texture to the walls.
5. Use elegant fabrics.
In a bold and dramatic interior like the Gothic style, elegant materials for fabrics must be used. Pick satin, silk and velvet fabrics with bold colors, patterns, and textures. Velvet is used for coverings for chairs and other upholstery, while satin suits beddings, drapes, and pillows. Long, heavy draperies lined with opulent tassels, fringe and tiebacks are perfect for Gothic windows. Tapestries can also be used for pillows and upholstery.
6. Decorate with ornate accessories.
Gothic interiors are not complete without layers of ornate accessories. Pieces that are made of stone, wrought-iron, metal or wood complete the Gothic look. Chandeliers – grand chandeliers, – lamps and sconces that are made of wrought iron would be perfect for a Gothic interior. On your dining table, set ornate, metallic candelabras and candlesticks as a centerpiece. These lighting fixtures are important in a Gothic interior, since the colors would most likely make the room dark. Plus, these add even more drama and mood to complement the style. Pottery bowls, carved wooden pieces, and carved stone statues are some elegant decorations you can add. Metallic pieces painted in white like bedside lamps give a bit of light-colored detail to the room. And if you happen to find heraldic emblems, they make perfect wall hangings that can serve as a focal point.
7. Add moldings.
A Gothic home is never complete without moldings. Actually, you can hardly ever call a room “Gothic” if there is no single form of molding present. Ceilings edges must be lined with thick crown molding, and the ceiling itself is decorated with sculptural moldings. The living room ceiling often contains a refined, sculptural ceiling medallion to suit the grand chandelier. Hallways have chair rails running through its length. Functional rooms like dining areas, bedrooms, libraries and guest areas have dark wainscot panels. Decorative ribbing and intricate cornices are common and placed everywhere in the interior.
The Gothic interior style is not for the simplistic and faint at heart. If you choose to remodel or renovate your house with a Gothic style, get ready to embrace bold details that can make you feel truly rich and opulent.