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Medieval Decor: Make History Repeat Itself

What comes to mind when you hear the words Medieval or Gothic? Cathedrals and castles and times long past, most likely. Or possibly you just remember that history credit in undergrad, with lectures on mad kings and 100 year wars and crop rotation. Whatever the case, medieval architecture and design is incredibly iconic. It comprises towering spires and sweeping lines, dark pillars heavy with ornamental carvings. Many modern decor trends have their roots in medieval decoration; here are some ideas for ushering the past into the present and bringing a little stately elegance into your home.


The Decor of Kings 

Gothic Bed Side Table AF2579 and Camberwell Manor Petite Side Table AF57258, both by Toscana
Gothic Bed Side Table AF2579 and Camberwell Manor Petite Side Table AF57258, both by Toscano

With gothic and medieval decoration, I think it’s safe to say that less is definitely more. In excess the dark wood and utilitarian shapes come across as oppressively austere, while on the other end of the spectrum the intricate carvings could push your decor toward the bombastic. Medieval design requires a keen eye and a delicate touch. That’s why small accent pieces like this are so great–they bring a flavor of gothic inspired architecture but won’t overstrain the eye or overwhelm the space. These pieces have very classical gothic elements–the pointed arch on the nightstand door, the flowing, organic lines on the side table. Both would make excellent additions to a guest or living room.

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Beasts of Burden 

Warwickshire Dragon Coffee Table CL3039 by Toscano
Warwickshire Dragon Coffee Table CL3039 by Toscano

Alright, I know I just said that you don’t want to go too hard or ostentatious, but I love this dragon coffee table. It’s just so cool. The glass top, the detailed carving on the wings and scales, crouching like it’s about to come alive and run away with your snacks. Half art, half furniture, this table is the best sort of sculpture, because it does more than just take up space. It’s made out of designer resin, not stone, but at 52 lbs this creature is still pretty hefty. He is also not the only one of his kind; Toscano has several other dragon tables available.

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Lounge Like a Lord 

Beardsley Faux Leather Lion Chair AF51206 by Toscano
Beardsley Faux Leather Lion Chair AF51206 by Toscano

What is more iconically medieval than a throne? This faux-leather padded chair is deep and regal, exquisitely carved and rubbed to a shine. I especially love how the feet are carved into claws to match the lion heads on the arms. The product description calls it handsomely masculine, but I don’t think you need to be a king to appreciate a chair like this. Queens, pages, and everyone in between can sit here and gaze across their lands. Or at least their living room.
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Deck the Halls 

Midnight Blue Tree of Life Tapestry PC2052 by Toscano
Midnight Blue Tree of Life Tapestry PC2052 by Toscano

Like its architecture and stonework, medieval art is intricate. Someone less kindly disposed might call it busy or chaotic. Because there is so much going on, a tapestry like this would look great in a sparsely decorated room, or on a wall where it is the key focus. Medieval art is meant to draw the eye, not fall sedately into the background. If you’re looking for a statement piece, a tapestry is a great way to go.

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Furniture or Art? 

Gothic Filigree Bench AF51299 by Toscano
Gothic Filigree Bench AF51299 by Toscano

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When I first saw this bench, I wondered whether it was a seat or a piece of art. The pillow sort of gives it away, I guess. Wooden and straight backed, this may not be where you’d want to curl up with a book or install one of your guests for a long period of time, but it would look great in a front hall or foyer. Who wouldn’t want to sit on something like this while they put their shoes on?

When everything is said and done, medieval decor is pretty intense. Alternating between ostentatious and severe, it would be a hard motif to maintain through an entire house. But for a library or a guest room, a few Gothic-inspired pieces add depth and interest to any home.