Spooky, creepy, without light and kind of Halloween-y. Ruined mansions, black walls and nothing like reality. These are some of the first things that come to mind when you think of the Gothic style of interiors. Wrong!
The Gothic Style of Interior Design and Decor is quite maligned and contains many quality elements worthy of respect. Even in our modern times it still has its’ place.
This is perhaps one of the most misunderstood styles of architecture and interior design. Gothic is very much a style for your house without causing you to worry about being perceived as a cousin of Dracula’s.
In fact, its medieval charm is what makes it so popular and coveted. It is light and ornate but does have a serious and somber tone to it.
Gothic is dramatic and exciting. The designs are so beautiful that it is one of the top choices to be incorporated into modern homes.
The first most striking feature of Gothic style architecture is vertical. From arches to windows, everything was made larger in size but the appearance always remained vertical.
That is also how light became a key element of this style. It became inevitable with the windows getting bigger. And more light meant an increased amount of airflow.
In fact, this style of design brought life into the other dark and glum interiors in Romanesque churches.
But yes. This style is not for those who have an understated or timid approach. Heavy and carved furniture, high-end fabrics for the drapes and decorative details are all a part of the decadent, luxurious and highly sensual space that is your home.
A Peek Into The History Of Gothic Design
This is a term that was mostly applied to churches in the medieval times (starting from the 12th century) because of the look they bore.
The cathedrals were huge in scale and size and were supported by architectural methods that were thought to have been lost after the fall of Rome in the fifth century.
For centuries, churches were small and dark places which were changed once and forever thanks to Gothic architecture which was a celebration of light.
The stained glass windows, pointed arches and decorations on all the surfaces gave these places the drama that they deserve and bathed them in grandeur.
Churches were once again breathtaking. Everything about these buildings was majestic. The high ceilings and tall arches with endless surfaces of decorations came to be noted as trademark Gothic architecture.
Now, if you look closely, a lot of Gothic architecture is mixed with Victorian style design from the 19th century.
This is because many designers brought it back to life by creating the neo-Gothic style. The buildings made in this style embraced motifs and the grand style element of Gothic style while keeping them private.
This brought the Gothic style out of the churches and into the homes. Since homes were not the size of grand churches, some modifications were made.
And the Gothic style of interior design was born with a side dish of Victorian Europe.
Churches to Interiors: How Gothic Style Came Home
This is a very decadent and highly sensual style of design. It is bold and not everyone is capable of doing this dramatic presentation well without getting overwhelmed.
In fact, if you feel like this medieval cathedral kind of design is not meant for you, you might want to back off right away. But if you stick around, we will show you what a divine sanctuary your home can be thanks to this style of design.
In today’s world, when we talk about Gothic interiors, we are looking at a variety of moods from subtle to incredibly dark.
But there are some elements that are common to all of these moods that fall within the Gothic style of design.
The flying buttress, which is often found outside cathedrals, is perhaps one of the most famous elements from the medieval era.
The Notre Dame Cathedral in Paris is the perfect example of this. And a part of this cathedral was unfortunately destroyed in a fire in 2019.
The pointed look with ornate doorways, chairs and archways are other elements that are classic Gothic architecture. And they were all created by designers in the medieval times in a never-seen-before fashion.
Symmetry was also used proportionally to balance the interior space. Now to some specifics.
Ornate Gothic Decorations
As mentioned earlier, this is one of the most misunderstood styles of interior design. And the first aspect to debunk is the absence of decorations.
The structures are highly detailed and have carvings and patterns on almost all surfaces. You will find a lot of delicious and ornate decorations that suit Gothic designs.
Moldings are also a big design element of this style. The moldings feature arches, roses and spirals for a sense of drama and finesse around doors and windows.
Furniture is also carved on the legs and at the back. Simplicity is not the way to go when you go Gothic.
Grand Gothic Furniture Pieces
And steering away from simplicity, Gothic design incorporates a variety of furniture pieces from that time period. At the time, newer models were becoming more prevalent.
So the main decorative role was given to chests and top boxes. These were placed along the walls and used as benches and sofas.
This is also because of their straight wooden backs. Apart from that, high-back chairs and huge armchairs were also used to lend that sense of drama which is symbolic of the Gothic style.
Your house might not be a cathedral, but it is still meant to look like a king (or queen) lives there. And while you’re at it, don’t hesitate to add armchairs that look more like thrones for royalty.
A wide bed in a prominent place in the bedroom was quite often found in affluent households back in the medieval era.
It used to be placed on a platform and profiled columns, one on each side. This setup supported a flat canopy that was made with fringed fabric designed with a scallop or frills.
The canopy was also shaped like a tent. You will see that this has not gone away. In fact, it has spread to other interior design styles.
Now, for wardrobes.
Let them be big and heavy. Make sure you have space to place cupboards for dishes because that’s just how we roll. Use a lot of store shelves, especially in the bedroom.
Subtle wood carving is also a common trait in Gothic furniture. Designers use these carvings mostly to slot in motifs that are typical to the architecture of those times.
Use lancet arches to form arcades. These also look pretty great when they overlap with each other.
The carvings are complicated and are meant to add texture to the whole setup. These cover the surface of the cabinet or chest or the back of a chair.
The Use of Light In Gothic Design
Light is another important factor. Since churches were small and dark places, the revival of that state meant going in the polar opposite direction.
That means, large windows and a lot of open interior spaces. These spaces are filled with strong vertical motifs and natural light. However, there has to be a little drama to light too.
So, Gothic designers loved to use stained glass. And over time, stained glass became one of the easiest ways to bring the Gothic design style into a private residence.
Look Beyond Black For The Real Gothic
You might not think this has a lot of color beyond black. And that is where you are wrong!
Sure, this style is serious and dark but it does not lack excitement. Medieval churches were made of stone, so they did not bother with color.
But since there is an element of Victorian design in modern Gothic style for interiors, color found its way in.
Vibrant colors like purples, greens, browns and deep reds dominate the scene in this style. Make sure your color scheme adheres to this pattern.
The obvious part is that the darker the colors get, the more dramatic the look. But this is also to give richness and depth to the room while adding a dash of luxury.
You can use polished wood or stone to get some of this vibe too because these materials lend themselves to rich colors. Ruby, black, ochre, forest green and gold are also colors to watch out for.
They go great with the heavy furniture you have or are about to pick up. Patterns of flowers and greenery work well in covering the walls of any room.
Keep an eye out for designs with stencils and symbols related to heraldry. The 3D effects created by paintings that promote illusions are also a classic element of Gothic designs.
Designers used to paint these on flat colors to give the stone surface more depth. And the walls are covered in tapestries and fabric hangings.
The stained glass windows (mentioned earlier) are given an accented border with wrought iron or full suits of armour.
Candles, cornices and carved ribbings are all classic elements of Gothic design.
Remember that buildings in the Gothic era had walls that were in dark colors, but they were vibrant.
Colors like emerald green, ocean blue, deep burgundy or ruby red.
Some Parting Words On How To Achieve A Gothic Design Style
Don’t be afraid to be bold and dramatic. But remember not to be too rough. There is no elegance in that and elegance of design is what you want to achieve.
Pick silk, satin and velvet for fabrics. Look for patterns and textures in them. Velvet is particularly good for curtains and covering furnishings.
Satin is great for drapes, bedding and pillows. Don’t forget that this style is all about glamor and decadence.
Heavy wrought iron, wooden and stone features are key. A hint of pottery dishes and carved sconces will also do the trick every now and then. And a couple of Gothic paintings will really put the cherry on top.
If Gothic style isn’t your thing why not check out our list of other Interior Design Styles which may open your eyes to a style more suitable for you.