How to bring a traditionally Romantic style into your home interior decor

sycamoreIsn’t everyone a Romantic at heart? So why hide it? Here’s how to bring traditional Romanticism into your interior design, and unleash in your home what Wordsworth called ‘the spontaneous overflow of powerful feelings’ (swoon!)... 


What is Romanticism?

Romantic interior design is back in a big way – in fact, Pooky have just launched a new range of Traditionally Romantic lights. But of course 'romantic' doesn't just mean cheesy Valentine’s cards and soppy love songs, it means the Romantic Movement…Wild and windy moors! Byron! Beethoven! Chandeliers!...

Dominating the arts in Europe from the second half of the 18th century to the middle of the 19th, Romanticism was the reaction against the rationalism and order of the Age of Enlightenment. It emphasised emotion and imagination, an appreciation for the beauties of nature, and an idealised, heroic view of the past, especially the chivalry of the Middle Ages. 

We tend to think first of the Romantic writers: the famous Lake Poets of the 1790s – Samuel Taylor Coleridge, Robert Southey and William Wordsworth (who described poetry as ‘the spontaneous overflow of powerful feelings’) – and then the second wave led by Lord Byron, Percy Bysshe Shelley, John Keats and the Brontë sisters. The Romantics were writing against a backdrop of major change across Europe and the New World, including the French Revolution and the Napoleonic Wars, and they wanted to challenge Establishment principles and promote the ideals of liberty, individualism, authentic personal expression and social equality. 

brontes wordsworth(left) The Brontë sisters Anne, Emily and Charlotte, painted by their brother Branwell (who painted himself in the middle and then removed the image); (right) William Wordsworth (Public domain)

If Britain produced the words, Germany provided the music: Ludwig van Beethoven and Franz Schubert blazing a trail from the formalities of the Classical era to the more expansive and experimental Romantic period, followed by Lizst and Wagner. The celebration of nature and wildness featured heavily – all those pastoral idylls and symphonic storms – as it did too in painting, with the atmospheric landscapes and seascapes of the likes of JMW Turner and John Constable.   

 turnerFishermen at Sea (1796), the first oil painting exhibited by JMW Turner at the Royal Academy (public domain)

The Romantic home

All these elements – nature, self-expression, emotion, shameless drama – feed into the interior design conception of Romanticism. It shares some themes with other design styles: the elegance of Regency, the decorative detail of Gustavian and the vintage decadence of Bohemian. Today the Romantic style is also associated with whimsy and nostalgia, with feminine florals, curved lines, soft fabrics and natural materials. 

Here are a few ideas for how you can introduce a touch of the Romantic style into your home. As is always the case with interior design, you don’t have to go the whole hog and turn your home into a historical theme park: the trick is to choose a few key pieces to set the tone. 

victoria von westenholzOrnate antiques, florals, chandeliers... Some sumptuously Romantic interiors by Victoria von Westenholz (@victoriavonwestenholz)

1) Go for floral prints and lightweight fabrics

Floral prints, sheer fabrics and soft textures are a great way of getting Romantic. Try a combination of floral wallpaper and some long, billowing curtains made from sheer, lightweight fabrics such as silk, organza and chiffon, which will make the space feel light and airy and add a touch of shimmer. Finish the look with some floral cushions and a floral print or two.  

2) Seek out ornate vintage furniture and accessories

You can emulate the Romantic style with some carefully chosen vintage furniture and accessories, such as a set of curved wingback chairs or an antique wooden side table or cabinet. Look out for pieces with embellishment and detail. 

3) Hang landscapes and seascapes

For artworks and prints, look out for large depictions of natural scenes – especially ones with a bit of drama: wind-blasted moors, snow-capped mountains or raging stormy seas. Online auction houses and antique shops have plenty of original works at various prices; but a contemporary artist painting impasto seascapes could be just as Romantic as a Turner print from the National Gallery.

4) Add some sparkle with reflective materials

A Romantic theme needs a bit of sparkle. Glass, crystal and shiny metallics are perfect materials. Ornate mirrors are very Romantic, and think sparkling glassware, candelabra, silver and brass items and beautiful glass vases.  

5) Layer your lighting

The Romantic mood really comes into its own at night. Include plenty of soft, warm lighting – and the best way to add mood and atmosphere is to use different sources so you can layer your light

A shimmering chandelier makes the ultimate Romantic statement centrepiece - particularly in the dining room or area - and you can supplement the overhead lighting with decorative wall sconces – which will provide a wash of soft, welcoming light – and table lamps for a cosy, intimate glow. For an extra dash of romance, add in some candlesticks or wall-mounted candle holders. Finally, including some dimmer switches will allow you to dial down the lights to just the right Romantic level.

carlos garciaVintage pieces, landscape art and lots of light sources for layering: plenty of Romantic touches in this room by the brilliant Carlos Garcia (

Get the look: Traditional Romantic lights

Lighting is a perfect way to introduce just the right amount of Romantic swoon into your decor. Here are a few highlights from Pooky’s new Traditional Romantic lighting range – guaranteed to make you go weak at the knees…


Buster - a classic centrepiece

buster in verdigris

A large hanging globe light is an enduring classic design. Our Buster hanging pendant light in aged verdigris is a fabulous Romantic centrepiece. Also available in an antiqued bronze.

Edith - a diminutive chandelier

edithThe Edith crystal chandelier is a charming, smaller chandelier, perfect for twinkling in those quiet little romantic corners.

Sycamore: naturally romantic

sycamoreWith its painstakingly crafted individual leaves and crystals, the detailed Sycamore chandelier in bronze celebrates the natural elements beloved by the Romantics.

Antoinette: regal refinement

 antoinetteOur Antoinette wall fitting in antique brass - with its lovely decorative swirls - harks back to the Romantic roots of 18th century France. 

Marple: cut glass elegance

marpleThe Marple pendant oozes class and romance with its cut glass and beautiful antique brass fittings. Here the inverted cloche design is given a contemporary twist, with the stylish diagonal criss-cross etching.

Fall in love with Pooky's range of Traditionally Romantic lighting here. 

See also:

Home lighting design: A guide to layering light
Classic interior design styles and how to light them – Regency
Classic interior design styles and how to light them – Gustavian
Classic interior design styles and how to light them - Bohemian