Rococo style might seem excessive, but its fundamentals are influencing interiors this year, writes Carol O’Callaghan and in a more user-friendly interpretation that the over-the-top original.
There’s no end to looking backwards for home interiors inspiration, and so far we’ve done pretty well out of it, with tried and tested styles adapted to give them modern relevance.
First we had mid-century modern and vintage, then Art Deco, and now it’s the turn of Baroque and its tail-end, the more lush Rococo and its excessive ornamentation.
Happily, the tangent of Rococo’s influence is currently headed in the direction of luxury with utility, making it a user-friendly deviation from the over-the-top original of the species, which, let’s face it, was created by a particularly hedonistic French aristocracy who favoured frolic and fancy, but at least had craftsmen who added in theall-essential design symmetry and balance.
So, no pressure to get exotic in the glass house beyond a few cacti, by trying to grow pineapples, or indoors by introducing gilt covered plaster angels into the decorating scheme, only to have them fall foul of your very own little cherubs.
Take what works for you from the various elements. Fabrics like brocade, silk, satin and velvet are elegant and luxurious, remaining decidedly unfussy if you avoid the overload of accessorising which traditionally goes with the look.
So pare back on mirrors and paintings in massive gilt frames, dust gathering figurines, clocks and candelabra, and faux pineapples of the gilded variety.
Opt for a modern take by introducing the necessary metallic elements with simply framed mirrors. Brass is a warm and attractive alternative to gold, and is making its way into furniture framework design.
Think geometric metal frames supporting round table tops in a contrasting material like wood or marble, and you have the 21st century version of the characteristically asymmetric tables of Rococo.
Interiosity, a shop noted for a stock with strong influences of French chic, has an abundance of this type of table. Starting at €150, there’s a choice of wood, marble and granite tops on various frame shapes to fit snugly against a sofa end.
Lighting, too, is drawing inspiration from the period, adding gilding to what are otherwise modern designs. Lightplan carries an extensive range worth checking out, including the eye-catching Atticus pendant.
This beauty is finished in hand-applied gold leaf which explains the price tag of €835, but if you’re in the market for something special, it’s one to make a strong decorative addition to a reception room or suspended over a formal dining table.
For the ultimate statement piece, a sofa swathed in folds of velvet evokes indulgent luxury, like the DFS Trafalgar four seater (€1,599). Buttoned upholstery gives it notions of a Chesterfield, so it ties in nicely with the Rococo period, but with sleeker, lines for a modern home.
To complete the Rococo influences, add in the Drift coffee table, designed along asymmetrical lines with a round top and angular base (€389).
Another option is an attention -seeking crimson number from luxury French brand Ligne Roset, although it goes by the rather pedestrian name of Cover 1.
It cannot deny its origins as it clearly has Chesterfield DNA, but has evolved into an ultra modern take with an upholstery structure which looks as though a throw has been draped over it (€3,732).
Staying with the French for a moment — after all they did invent Rococo and its excessive flamboyance — another luxury brand takes us into the boudoir.
Check out Roche Bobois’ Estampe bed (€3,500), finished with the decorative scrolls and detailing which define the look. It could take a step back 300 years if it were made up with satin quilts and bolster pillows, but the addition of plain linens in on-trend colours give it a contemporary finish.
If you’re in the mood for a decorating project now that spring has officially sprung, wallpaper offers a way to channel the look.
A confection of pineapples trimmed with peonies and calling itself Ludic Blush is boudoir appropriate and not overtly feminine, thanks to grey detailing (€80 p/roll from www.woodchipandmagnolia.co.uk).
Pineapple Royale by Sanderson (€65 p/roll) takes an altogether different approach and sees the fruit in a gold repeat pattern across a graphite background.
With a few crimson sofas and a bit of gilding thrown in, the overall effect might suggest bordello rather than boudoir, so proceed with caution and apply in moderation.