The Extraordinary Elements of Renaissance Interior Design

The Extraordinary Elements of Renaissance Interior Design

Interior Design
Decoration and Design
By Dikran Seferian June 29, 2022

Graceful, gorgeous, and grandiose are just a few ways to describe Renaissance interiors. Characterized by harmony and symmetry, this design style is the epitome of elegance and all that is beautiful. But this comes as no surprise considering that the style is associated with possibly the most glorious era of art in history — think Da Vinci, Michelangelo, Donatello, and Raphael. The opulent paintings and frescoes of Renaissance palaces and cathedrals come to mind. Now imagine how that translates into an ordinary living space. The Renaissance style can be luxurious yet understated, lending an aesthetic that never ceases to impress. 

What Is Renaissance Interior Design?

Art is an integral element of both modern and classic Renaissance interior design.

Art is an integral element of both modern and classic Renaissance interior design.

The Renaissance design style essentially refers to furnishings, home decor, and other interior elements pertaining to — or inspired by — the Renaissance era. With art as its primary essence and source of inspiration, this form of interior design aims to express a sense of grandeur and transcendence. Renaissance home decor also centers itself around harmony and continuity. It ultimately thrives on achieving symmetry and balance through the composition of its elements. 

History of Renaissance Interior Design

Palazzo Vecchio in Florence is one of the most notable examples of the Renaissance style (Miguel Hermoso Cuesta/Wikimedia Commons).

Palazzo Vecchio in Florence is one of the most notable examples of the Renaissance style (Miguel Hermoso Cuesta/Wikimedia Commons).

Originating in Italy, Renaissance was an era of artistic “rebirth” (the literal definition of the term) from the late 1400s to the early 1500s. This truly spectacular style emerged from Florence and spread throughout Europe. It is among the most marvelous and influential genres of art that transformed European notions and principles.

At the time when Gothic design and medieval styles were the most dominant in the region, people were longing for cultural, political, and artistic emancipation. Renaissance was the answer, and a much-needed one following the cultural stagnation of the Middle Ages. The transformation took place in all realms of life, including music, literature, art, architecture, and design.

Renaissance interior design aimed to compose graceful, magnificent, and symmetrical spaces. The style appealed to many Europeans who then summoned Italian artists to help create such masterpieces in their countries. This ultimately resulted in the Renaissance style expanding throughout France, Germany, Poland, and England, among others. While the Italian Renaissance mainly focused on the wealthy class, the Northern Renaissance was directed towards a more modest lifestyle.

Renaissance architects began building houses with massive interiors featuring marble-clad walls, floors, and door frames. Palatial gilding and carving adorned the wooden ceilings. A lot of attention was directed toward furniture, which consisted of architectural details like cornices, pilasters, and columns. The color palettes included rich tones, soft pastels, and light shades of white.

Characteristics of Renaissance Interior Design

Much like other forms of interior design, certain elements define the Renaissance style. These characteristics collectively aim to evoke stature and sophistication.

Symmetric Room Composition

Symmetry is a fundamental element of Renaissance interior design.

Symmetry is a fundamental element of Renaissance interior design.

The Renaissance essentially pertains to the classical styles. As such, the layout of living spaces centers itself around the basis of symmetry. A great deal of thought goes into the arrangement of furniture. Each room consists of a focal point, with decor and furniture mirroring each other on both sides. This results in the Renaissance room decor collectively harmonizing into a unified entity.

A fireplace often serves as the centerpiece of the living room while that of a kitchen is typically a stove or a table. While adornments can be rather elaborate, the focus should be on creating open and airy spaces that provide a sense of freedom. 

Harmonious Color Palette

While there are no restrictions to the color scheme in Renaissance interiors, the primary rule is to avoid sharp contrasts. You’ll find a synthesis of mid-tones appearing together in harmony, with one color flowing smoothly into the other.

Pastel shades contribute to the majesty of a room and are the ideal choice for adorning large surfaces. Rich tones such as burgundy and emerald green draw attention to home decor, upholstery, and other accessories. One common technique you’ll notice on furniture and ornamentation is gilding. Not only does it correspond with just about any color, but also enhances the color palette while adding visual interest.

High Ceilings

Ceilings of Renaissance interiors are incredibly ornate and palatial.

Ceilings of Renaissance interiors are incredibly ornate and palatial.

High ceilings are another common characteristic of interiors in the style of Renaissance. As with the palaces of Italy during the Renaissance era, high ceilings in modern living spaces can signify eminence. Adorning the surface with ornate patterns also expresses stature; ornate ceilings are a defining feature of Renaissance structures, and using a rich hue can recreate that aesthetic. An extravagant crystal chandelier is a final touch that ties the look together. 

Patterned Floors and Walls

Complementing the palatial ceilings are tastefully patterned floors. Renaissance-style flooring typically features tilework with geometric patterns and earthy shades. The walls, on the other hand, are often smooth with neutral colors like white, cream, or beige with gold tones. The neutral shades also serve as a great backdrop for the Renaissance paintings that adorn the walls.

Ornate Textiles and Details

Textiles with lavish embroidery play a major role in Renaissance interiors.

Textiles with lavish embroidery play a major role in Renaissance interiors.

Beautifully embroidered textiles are a recurring feature in Renaissance living rooms, bedrooms, and other interior spaces that follow the style. These include everything from elegant drapes to bedsheets, to decorative pillows. As for upholstery, expensive furniture materials such as silk, velvet, and brocade draw attention. Windows feature curtains with multiple layers of heavy silk as well as tassels, lambrequins, and golden cords. Bear in mind the Renaissance era was when gorgeous fabrics like silk and satin were shipped to Europe — which resulted in them being a common choice for home decor.

Artful sculptures adorn niches in walls while columns, lintels, and pilasters serve as architectural details. Other Renaissance decorations include bronze statuettes, antique clocks, and mirrors with a lavish framework. 

Abundant Lighting

You’ll notice an abundance of natural light permeating Renaissance interior spaces through large windows. As for lighting fixtures, opulent crystal chandeliers often take center stage while ornate sconces, floor lamps, and candelabra fill up the rest of the spaces. The aesthetic appeal of these fixtures allows them to play a major role in Renaissance home decor

Lavish Furniture

Furnishings in Renaissance homes tend to be large and heavily ornate.

Furnishings in Renaissance homes tend to be large and heavily ornate.

Large pieces of gorgeous furniture with intricate gilding and carving highlight the opulence of the Renaissance interior. Modern designs that implement this grandiose style may also feature a display of detailing. Renaissance living spaces also tend to keep the amount of furniture at a minimum, maintaining an open and comfortable atmosphere.

A great deal of attention goes into the design of the bed. The Renaissance-style favors four-poster beds with raised platforms and draped canopies in rich tones. Chair and sofas feature elaborate legs, armrests, and laced backs. Tables, on the other hand, are typically round, oval, or hexagonal with a single stand — although rectangular dining tables with two to four stands are also common.

Artistic Touches

Top-notch finishing materials go into creating the cohesive Renaissance aesthetic. This involves adorning walls with frescoes, brocade, or textured plaster. Wooden panels with elegant detailing are also common. Injections of fine art are present throughout the interior spaces. You’ll find large porcelain vases with gorgeous gilding and other Renaissance decorations that feature patterns of mythical and heraldic creatures. Coupled with ornate ceilings and patterned floors, these artistic touches impart eminence and luxury to a living space. 

Extravagance of Style

Renaissance detailing and ornamentation stand testament to stature and transcendence.

Renaissance detailing and ornamentation stand testament to stature and transcendence.

Interiors that boast the Renaissance style tend to exhibit impeccable sensibilities through the richness of their ornamentation. And by doing so, they never cease to amaze. Much like baroque architecture, this form of design thrives on displaying wealth and superiority. Every item in a Renaissance living space says “look at me”. As such, the style may largely appeal to those who have a profound appreciation for everything that pertains to the Renaissance era.

DS

Written by
Dikran Seferian

Written by Dikran Seferian

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