Rococo architecture and interior design excelled between 1730 and 1770.
The romantic, lush, and airy aesthetic started off in France.
Rococo incorporates asymmetrical curves, natural details, pastels, and gilding.
Incorporate Rococo design into a modern home with equally ornate accents from the era.
It's hard not to associate luxury with the Rococo movement. Introduced as a response to the dramatic early Baroque era, Rococo welcomed delicate elegance, soft pastels, and a celebration of the natural world into the salons of Paris. Three hundred years later, you can still incorporate the curvy, lavish, and playful elements of Rococo interior design into any room in your home.
Key Elements of Rococo Design
There is a flirty, secretive, and even mischievous quality to Rococo design, and this all stems from its early history. After the reign of Louis XIV in France, designers longed for a softer, more playful approach compared to the strict and serious quality of Baroque design that you'll find in Versaille.
And yet, Rococo architecture and interior design still land at the tail end of the Baroque era and borrow plenty of elements from it. The style flourished across Europe and eventually the U.S. as well. Rococo made a revival in the mid-19th century in the United States during the Victorian Era, and can still be found today in maximalist and Hollywood Regency homes.
Here's what you'll find in Rococo interior design, both historically and today.
1. Gilded Pastels
Color made a huge shift when designers turned from Baroque to Rococo. Rococo incorporated natural hues like soft pastels—pink, green, blue, and tan—surrounded by gold, silver, and bronze gilding. This soft palette balances well with natural wood hues in furniture, rugs, and embellishments throughout the architecture.
2. Curves and Carvings
Reliefs and carvings played a large role in Rococo design, particularly when it came to showcasing natural elements like leaves, branches, animals, and cherubs.
This design style breaks away from symmetry and straight lines, embracing a playful, unbalanced, and natural style. You'll find rolling curves, scrolls, and swirls in nearly all Rococo accents, from table legs to embellishments on the top of columns.
3. Light and Reflection
The lighter energy quite literally reflects in the lighter energy of the rooms themselves. Mirrors, reflective gilding, and crystal chandeliers open up a space to make it more welcoming, bright, and airy.
4. Walls and Ceiling Decor
The surfaces surrounding a room played just as much a role in the design as the furniture and decor. Ceiling frescos, highly decorative molding, and decorative door and window frames provided a huge opportunity for flourishes. In many cases, the Rococo architecture of the room blended directly into the items inside.
5. Glamor and Quality
Rococo continued the trend of focusing on craftsmanship and quality. Elaborate carvings and fine materials show off a homeowner's fine tastes and appreciation for art. Furniture is well-upholstered and luxurious, focusing on the comfort of the room as much as its beauty.
6. High Art
The longer you look at a historic Rococo room, the more you'll find hidden in the detail. The era incorporated clever artistic trends of the time, such as trompé-l'œil—or the three-dimensional illusion to create images like a distant sky on a ceiling fresco.
How to Incorporate Rococo Design Into Your Home
Blending such an iconic design from several centuries back can be tricky without accidentally turning your home into a museum. So, in this case, the cost of an interior designer is often well worth it. Small touches of Rococo design still have the same effect that they did back then—the ability to add romance, luxury, and a light-hearted energy to a room.
1. Accent Furniture
The best way to bring Rococo design indoors is through eye-catching furniture that matches the time period. Rococo furniture will feature elaborate curved carvings, often with shells, scrolls, flowers, and similar flourishes. Furniture should be comfortable as much as decorative and inspire a dinner party worthy of the historic era.
2. Gilding and Light
Find ways to spread natural light throughout each room with mirrors, reflective tabletops, and gilded wall and furniture accents. A gilded Rococo mirror or picture frame is an excellent way to use both reflection and the iconic gold elements of the time. Encouraging natural light is also a way to incorporate green interior design and bring Rococo into the 21st century.
On the same theme, don't skimp on lighting fixtures, whether you add carved sconces along the wall or a vintage table lamp that shows off the gilding, curves, and flourishes of the Rococo style.
Lean into the ornamentation in Rococo design. Much like the maximalism movement in interior design, more is actually more. Consider adding carved moldings around the walls, ceiling medallions around a chandelier, and complimentary flourishes on a focal point like windows or a mantelpiece.
4. Floral Wallpaper
Wallpaper has made a comeback in the past 10 years, particularly when it comes to the energetic patterns on accent walls. Rococo designs pair perfectly with wallpaper, particularly when setting the tone of a space. Opt for pastels and pale colors with flowers, trees, animals, and asymmetrical patterns. Wallpaper is a great way to add a simple Rococo flair to a minimalist space as well.
5. Rococo Artwork
The fine art of the Rococo era is just as theatrical and playful as the architecture and interior design. Show off your love of the style by showcasing a classic Rococo painting or tapestry in the center of the room. The most famous pieces often reflect elements in the rest of the design—including many scenes of cupids frolicking in the sea to the iconic lady on the swing.
You may have a lot of questions about interior design—especially when incorporating such a striking style like Rococo. A local interior design, however, can walk you through how to alter your layout, decor, and ongoing renovation choices within the aesthetic.