When it comes to interiors, the word ‘romantic’ can conjure up a real pastiche of images – a clichéd, candlelit Valentine’s Day aesthetic, gilded chateaux salons, feminine florals and even dramatic Gothic features. Is it possible, then, to pin down Romantic design style in a definitive way that can be easily adopted in our homes? We recommend following your heart – make the style work for you by borrowing elements of it that you really love. Here, we’ll share a few ideas for bringing Romantic design elements to your home, in whatever way you like best.

A bright and airy, classically styled sitting room with large windows, roll-arm green armchairs and sofa, and contemporary artwork over the fireplace.

Before approaching your project from this angle, it’s helpful to answer the question ‘what is Romanticism in interior design?’ to have some historical background. One of the strongest associations with romantic interior design style is, of course, architecture of the Romantic movement, which is roughly agreed to have taken place from the late 18th until the latter half of the 19th century. When you think of Romantic architecture, think grand Gothic Revival cathedrals, the ornate Palais Garnier opera house in Paris, or the Royal Pavilion in Brighton. 

A large black and silver Chinoiserie-style cabinet with three decorative vases on top.
A green upholstered dining chair pulled out from a wooden dining table over a floral rug.

 

Opt for the Antique Look

If you’re inspired by the idea of a sitting room straight out of the Marie Antoinette film set, which happens to have been the real Palace of Versailles, get ready to embrace embellishment in your furniture and accessories. This will naturally lead you towards antiques or reproductions, as contemporary interiors tend to favour more pared-back, minimalist features. Look for furniture with lots of detail, such as a Gustavian-inspired or Chinoiserie wooden cabinet, or a curving silhouette, such as a graceful French country-style chair. The more ornate, the better, whether in the form of nature-inspired prints or eye-catching metallic accents. You could go so far as to reference Louis XIV’s palatial halls with mirrored furniture and wall art. When it comes to accessories, stop short of piling on the knickknacks. Though a Romantic room definitely makes a clear impression, it should feel serene.    

A warm, bright dining room with orange photogram-style prints on the walls, neutral leather dining chairs, a large dining table and a large vase of hydrageas.

 

Go With the Flow

Traditionally associated with emotion and individuality, Romanticism also grapples with traditional concepts of femininity. This is made manifest in several ways throughout Romantic interior design, one of the most prominent being the use of curved lines, especially in furniture. Picture the graceful slope of a Rococo-style table leg, or a dining chair with a circular back. It’s an easy idea to re-interpret in a more up-to-date way in your own home, if your style is less traditional; curved furniture in a more extreme, upholstered silhouette has been very popular in recent years, especially in the form of sofas and armchairs

A classic French country-style armchair upholstered in cream linen with pink velvet cushions on top.
The head of a bed, with blue and green scatter cushions, a floral bead spread and a neutral upholstered headboard.

 

Layer Soft Furnishings and Upholstery

Fabric is another important factor in capturing the essence of this style. Whether you’re fully leaning into the historical period or aiming to hint at it while keeping your interiors grounded in the present, you should feel comfortable with textiles – upholstered headboards, seating, dining chairs, benches, and footstools can all be of use. Fans of floral or sheer drapes will be pleased – hang curtains around your windows, or, even better, give your four-poster bed a sumptuous canopy. Choose softer, warmer colours and neutrals in lighter-weight materials with a hint of shimmer. 

A round blue and white Chinese-style table lamp with a natural linen lampshade.
A dark red ceramic curved lamp with a pleated neutral lampshade.

 

Set the Mood with Lighting


Atmospheric, layered lighting may be the most important element of romantic interiors – in any sense – on this list. Glittering chandelier aside, using multiple light sources such as table lamps, floor lamps and decorative sconces in different areas of a room will help to create a cosy, intimate glow, and add more opportunities for embellishment. If you can, install dimmer switches for your lights – there’s nothing quite as unromantic as bright, cool light – and opt for coloured lampshades to add warmth. In a look inspired by the past, candlelight certainly won’t go amiss either. For more mood lighting tips, read our guide from experts Sophie Stevens and Lisa Mitchell. 

Three large white ceramic vases filled with white and pale pink roses.

 

Fall for Florals

Just a glimpse at a few examples of Romantic interiors and you’ll understand that flowers have a starring role in this look. Fresh ones sit centre stage in Romantic salons and sitting rooms, but the print versions make appearances in floral wallpaper and window treatments, on upholstery, and on the floor. Choosing a rug with a botanical motif is an easier way to include florals than reupholstering your chairs, and it can provide a more subtle nod if you’re picking and choosing only a few key touches for a modern Romantic interior design style. Easier yet is placing faux flowers on coffee tables and side tables. Stick to a subdued version of the traditional Valentine’s Day colour palette – red, pale pink, white and soft purple – for an additional layer of romance. Classics like roses, ranunculus and hydrangeas are perfect.