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How to Add Old World Style to Your Home

Linda is a seasoned writer and home-decorating authority. She loves sharing design trends, decor ideas, and useful tips with her readers.

Old World Decor

The trademark of old world style is comfortable, dignified, and suggestive of European manor homes, estates and villas. Details like hand-troweled plaster walls, exposed surfaces, and rugged wooden beams are some of the main interior elements. Oversize furniture, textures, and a rich color palette comprise the formula for a stately style that’s not afraid to show its age.

Old world style is a hybrid encompassing design standards dating back to the Medieval and Renaissance periods. The influences come from different regions, including Tudor, Spanish colonial, Tuscan, and a French chateau. Old world is one of those styles that you know when you see it. It's easily identifiable by its time-worn finishes, arched windows, and doorways, barrel-vaulted ceilings reminiscent of sprawling Mediterranean villas.

If you prefer a style that creates a flawless combination of restraint, grace, and tradition, then the old world is ideal for you. Rustic elements such as aged plaster, limestone, and wrought iron blend beautifully with luxurious textiles such as velvet, silk damask, needlework, and brocade. Aged furnishings retain an aristocratic appearance. Even though the rooms are of a formal nature, they often have a warm and welcoming mood.

Rich earthy colors are a large part of old world elegance.

Rich earthy colors are a large part of old world elegance.

Color Scheme

Old world colors run deep, dark, rich, and noble. Imagine aged shades of indigo, raw umber, gold, Prussian green, bisque, ochre, and Venetian red—straight out of a Rembrandt painting. Employ different finishes from dark-stained woods to painted, worn, and weathered techniques that replicate centuries of wear.

This masculine old world study is full of rich, beautifully carved built-ins.

This masculine old world study is full of rich, beautifully carved built-ins.

Furniture

Old world furnishings show attention to detail with artisan handcrafted designs. Furniture pieces include a variety of classic European styles, from Gothic to Baroque. One thing they all have in common is their weight and stature. Thick and heavy wood furniture is either ornately carved or distressed with refined elegance.

Seating features weathered leather and exquisite fabric upholstery with hand-hammered hardware accents. Look for dining tables with crossbar supports or chunky pedestals. Imposing pieces, such as built-in bookcases and cabinets, feature carved detail such as fluted pilasters, acanthus leaf accents, and crown and base moldings.

Ornate fabric and curtains add a touch of elegance to the bedroom.

Ornate fabric and curtains add a touch of elegance to the bedroom.

Textiles

Old world fabrics include richly decorated brocades and damasks, sumptuous velvets, and elaborate tapestries. Heavy elegant and luxurious drapery panels create warmth and visual interest. They're typically hung from substantial wrought iron or turned wooden curtain rods.

Upholstery, tablecloths, bedding, and curtains are accented with various decorative embellishments, including tassels, French gimp, bullion fringe, and braided trim.

Old world wall textures and flooring are a throw back to a time that still endures.

Old world wall textures and flooring are a throw back to a time that still endures.

Floors and Walls

Choose natural materials to create an old world feeling. Travertine, limestone, tumbled marble, or salvaged wood planks are ideal flooring options. A more economical alternative is laminate flooring to mimic rough-hewn wood or dark, large-scale ceramic or porcelain tile that looks like stone.

Warm-up those hard surface floors with appropriate period rugs. Look for rugs with a faded, old world appeal. Orientals, Aubussons, and Persians definitely suit the style. Antique carpets are extremely costly, so you might want to consider modern manufacturing processes that give new rugs a distressed and well-worn look.

Create an old world look by installing wood paneling, faux finishes, Venetian plaster, or textured walls. Think about walls of antiquity with worn, cracked, and uneven surfaces. Color washing will provide the walls with a subtle hint of warm, earthy color by mixing glaze and water with pigments of rust, tan, gold, or brown. If you want an authentic texture, create a plaster finish on drywall by applying a joint compound with a trowel.

Rustic urns and Renaissance art add a touch of old world charm.

Rustic urns and Renaissance art add a touch of old world charm.

Accessories

Wrought iron candelabra and decorative wall grilles add a romantic Spanish colonial feel. Oversize vases, urns, and hand-painted pottery make an old world room come to life. Paintings in ornately carved frames depicting rural European scenes, portraiture, floral and religious art add a sense of authenticity. Please take advantage of large bookcases by filling them with various old books, decorative boxes, and period artifacts.

Overhead lanterns provide an old world mood for any room.

Overhead lanterns provide an old world mood for any room.

Lighting

Lighting creates warmth that can’t be achieved with furnishings alone. As with accessories, most old world lighting fixtures are crafted from metals and wrought iron. Scrolls and curves are common lighting designs.

Sconces, lanterns, and chandeliers dominate old European lighting. No style defines it more than hoop or multi-ring chandeliers. This style dates back to Medieval times and continues to inspire today's interiors.

© 2019 Linda Chechar

Start a Conversation!

Linda Chechar (author) from Arizona on April 06, 2019:

Dianna, if you like the old world style it does add a bit of charm and warmth.

Dianna Mendez on April 06, 2019:

Great ideas for boosting the decor in a home.

Linda Chechar (author) from Arizona on March 17, 2019:

Eman, these traditional elements give a room that classic European feel. So glad you enjoyed the article.

Eman Abdallah Kamel from Egypt on March 17, 2019:

Very nice article. I like everything classic. Thanks for the ideas.

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