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Rococo Inspired Furniture: Modern Flair with an 18th Century Twist

Complex, whimsical, and with a name that is just generally fun to say, rococo is a style that’s hard to ignore. It combines light colors, asymmetry, and graceful swirls in order to draw out a witty playfulness that many modern styles lack. Popularized in the early 18th century, the influences of rococo design and architecture is still in evidence across Europe. Rococo interiors are marked by ornateness and elegance; rococo inspired furniture can liven up any drab living space.

What Is A Rococo Style?

As an artistic movement, rococo is generally defined as a French style. It developed in the early to mid eighteenth century, as a reaction against the earlier baroque style. Baroque art and decor was unyielding in its rules of symmetry and color, and often totally overwhelmed by the use of gaudy precious metals. The Palace of Versailles is one famous example of baroque decor and architecture. Rococo is also intricate and heavily ornamented, but its lines and colors are less severe, its rules less rigid, and its tone far more whimsical.

A great example of an asymmetrical rococo design (by Kaufman Homes, inc.)
A great example of an asymmetrical rococo design (by Kaufman Homes, inc.)

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The word rococo derives from the french word for shell. Many aspects of rococo are reminiscent of splashing waves and the whorls of shells. This is one of the many ways it differentiates itself from baroque style design. It parallels the natural world, working with curves and swirls rather than straight lines. This mirror is great example: the waves, the curlicues, the asymmetry, all give it the illusion of motion.

How Do I Decorate In A Rococo Style?

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While these days we can buy rococo inspired furniture piece by piece, the design itself was more all-encompassing. Rather than a single piece of furniture, rococo decor included the whole room and everything in it. Done right, all the elements should come together to create a fantastic whole. Everything– furniture, lamps, knick-knacks, and even the walls themselves were part of the production. The effect is really amazing and striking, but possibly not what you’d be going for in a modern home. ‘Rococo masterpiece’ can very quickly snowball into ‘horrifically overdone and migraine-inducing’. That’s why a single statement piece like this chair is a great way to incorporate rococo inspired furniture into your decor – without getting too overblown.

How Will I Know Rococo Inspired Furniture When I See It?

Polrey has a lot of really great rococo inspired furniture, but I think this piece is my very favorite when it comes to exemplifying the style. The paint resembles plasterwork, an iconic aspect of rococo interior design, and the design incorporates the swoops, flowing lines, and curlicues, as well as leaves and wave patterns. The combination of pastel pink, blue, and white and gold give it a whimsical air, rather than the austerity and formality of a typical grandfather clock. If you’re looking for a definitive piece, this is the one.

This is another great piece from Polrey, and another great example of the style. The leaves winding up the center are very in-character for the period. The way they are posed is indicative of the style as well; their shape and positioning is slightly different, rather than mirroring each other. That said, accent tables are probably your most subtle option when it comes to rococo inspired furniture; not only are the tables themselves small, but the detail work falls well below eye level, inviting you to discover the design rather than placing it front and center.

The intricacy and flare of rococo decor can at first seem overwhelming and gaudy, but with a keen eye and a light touch it really freshen up a boring space. Once you give into the decadence, it’s hard not to be charmed by its whimsy.

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