Taking an interest in fashion and interiors was very much the order of the day in Georgian times. Entertaining was becoming more popular and print books containing designs and architectural models were available to the public for the first time. As the century progressed, the style became lighter and lighter in terms of colours and decoration and eventually became Regency style.
• Harmony and symmetry
• Early Georgian colour schemes include burgundy, sage green and blue grey but, as the style developed, they became lighter and included pea green, sky or Wedgwood blue, soft grey, dusky pink and a flat white or stone.
• Airiness, space and light
• Floors were bare floorboards covered with Oriental rugs. Grander houses had stone or marble floors in pale colours, perhaps with a keystone pattern.
• Delicate furniture ~ Robert Adam - architect and designer, influenced by the way the Italians decorated their buildings
• George Hepplewhite - furniture maker in the late Georgian period
• Thomas Chippendale - cabinet maker renowned during the middle Georgian period.
• Mouldings are intricate - ceilings might have ribbons and swags, classical figures and urns.
• Walls were still panelled but the panelling only reached dado height and the plaster above was either painted or papered.
Chinoiserie, is a French term, signifying "Chinese-esque". It refers to a recurring theme in European artistic styles since the seventeenth century, which reflect Chinese artistic influences. Fanciful and whimsical, it imitated Chinese porcelain and used lacquer-like materials and decoration.
• Decorative objects were screens, fans, porcelain and lacquerwork from the Orient and bronze ornaments. Picures were hung in formal groupings, flanking the fireplace.
Fireplaces would have been the focal point of a room. They had basket grates, cast iron backs and were decorated with fronts featuring swags, urns, and medallions, perhaps flanked with classical pillars. A firescreen was painted to match the room or featured a trompe l'oeil.
• The arrival of paraffin was a major break-through for Georgian lighting. Chandeliers were made from glass, metal and wood with curved arms like an octopus for a centrepiece. Fittings in pewter or tin were used in less grand homes.
• Soft furnishings were often glazed cotton fabrics with small sprigs of flowers. The same fabric on upholstery and curtains. Armchairs and divans often had loose covers made from cheap ticking or striped linen, which were removed for special occasions. Curtains sported pagoda style pelmets on top.
• A Georgian front door had a filigree fanlight with a canopy and pediments and sash windows and shutters.
Influences on Georgian decoration
• Palladian style - especially Inigo Jones' s architecture
• the Grand Tour - it was highly fashionable for the upper classes to take a tour round Europe, particularly Italy, for two or three years
• the Orient
• 1714 George I on the throne
• 1748 Pompeii discovered
• 1813 Pride and Prejudice written by Jane Austen
• 1837 Queen Victoria crowned
Examples can be found at:
• Bath - particularly The Royal Crescent
• The Geffrye Museum, London E2 - has rooms showing the development of Georgian style
• Sir John Soane's Museum, London WC2
• Syon House, Brentford, Middlesex - the Long Gallery designed by Robert Adam
• 28 Charlotte Square, Edinburgh - a whole square built by Robert Adam and purchased by The National Trust for Scotland.
• The Georgian House, 7 Charlotte Square, Edinburgh.
• Georgian House Style by Ingrid Cranfield (David & Charles)
• The Georgian House Book by Steven Parissien (Aurum Press)
• The English Archive of Design and Decoration by Stafford Cliff (Thames & Hudson)
Images from: Georgian House Style, Ingrid Cranfield