Defining the Regency Style and Why It’s Trending in Popularity Today
Regency Design Dates Back to the 19th Century – But It’s Trending Again
The Regency period calls to mind Empire silhouette dresses, society parties, and Jane Austen novels, feeling like a historical era completely out of grasp when compared to the present day. The Regency style dates back to 19th century England, but this classic style is making a modern comeback, as regency interior design is once again trending centuries later. Why are we once again fascinated with this classic style? Our San Antonio-based interior designers and architects define Regency design and the elements that make up the look, recount the history of the movement, and explain why the Regency style is once again trending today.
Defining the Regency Style
The Regency era occurred in the United Kingdom during the early 19th century from 1811-1820 amidst George IV’s reign as Prince Regent. The Regency design movement includes the buildings and interiors designed during this time. Regency style doesn’t stand on its own. It is heavily influenced by antiquity, including classic Egyptian, Gothic, Greek, and Roman architecture, and the coinciding movements of the Biedermeier style in Germany, Federal style in the United States, and Empire style in France. These overlapping movements pull from neoclassical elements, revitalizing classic ornamentation, like columns, and adding a flair of opulence to the design of the interiors. In all of these styles, utility met visual elegance in practical home spaces that were layered with rich woods, carved details, metal accents, and luxurious patterns.
The Elements of Regency Design
Regency design elements are rooted in classic architectural features from antiquity and reimagined with a sense of opulent luxury. Exteriors are symmetrical, clean, and balanced, while interior spaces are layered with elegant woods, expensive wallpapers, and rich accents.
Crescent Terrace Houses
Crescent terrace houses are one of the most iconic constructions of the Regency period. These English row houses are laid out in an arch pattern, one of the best examples being the Royal Crescent in Bath constructed at the cusp of the Regency era.
Black and White Exterior Color Palettes
Regency-style homes are typically finished in a simple black and white color palette on the facade. Exteriors feature smooth white stucco, black front door, and black accents like shutters or ironwork. Inside, Regency homes featured a more extensive but still muted color palette of yellows, blues, pinks, and greens.
Columns & Decorative Ironwork
Classic-inspired ornamentation graces the facades of Regency homes, including elements like decorative columns and wrought-iron balconies. Exterior ornamentation is simple and elegant, while the interior details are more luxuriant.
Like the other neoclassical-inspired styles, including the Federal and Empire movements, Regency decorative details are influenced by ancient Greece and Rome. Furniture pieces often included symmetrical designs, columns, lion heads, feet, and elegantly curved lines.
Elegant Wood Furniture
As exotic woods were becoming more available at the time, luxuriously veneered furniture pieces dominated Regency interiors. Mahogany, walnut, and rosewood were popular woods to use throughout the home.
Vertical Striped Wallpapers and Textiles
Vertical striped wallpapers accompanied by matching textiles are a popular decorating scheme in Regency design. In luxurious estates, it would be common to carry a matching stripe pattern from the wall to the curtains to the furnishings for a tailored and elegant feel.
Brass accents are regularly seen in Regency design, including furniture hardware, lighting, inlays, and leafing on decorative trims.
Origins of Regency Style
The British Regency lasted from 1811 to 1820, but the Regency style that defined the decade carried on much longer, extending before and after George IV’s rule. During this period, revival styles were booming in popularity, drawing neoclassical inspiration from Roman, Gothic, and Egyptian architecture. Shared elements are seen in pre-Regency buildings, and Regency’s influence lasted for decades after the period.
The start of the Regency era coincided with the Napoleonic Wars, limiting funds and construction efforts. After the Battle of Waterloo’s victory in 1815, a financial boom occurred, and Regency architecture would flourish for years after the period. John Nash is the architect most associated with the Regency style. Loved by developers, his terrace homes rose in popularity, spreading the building technique throughout London and coastal resort towns. The rise of Regency design in holiday homes only added to the style’s association with comfort and luxury.
The Emergence of Hollywood Regency
Over a century later, the Regency style would be reimagined as Regency Moderne, more commonly referred to as Hollywood Regency. The Hollywood Regency style employs bold use of color, metallic accents, and mirror to achieve a sense of over-the-top luxury. While the style was created to reflect the aspirational lifestyle associated with Hollywood’s Golden Age, it shares roots in creating practical spaces that feel opulent, just like the Regency homes of the 1800s. Like Regency, the Hollywood Regency style utilizes metallic accents, elegant stripes, and wood veneers to create inviting spaces that offer comfort and grand first impressions. However, Hollywood Regency takes a maximalist twist and doesn’t place a cap on glam. The style uses traditional Regency elements, geometric Art Deco influences, and streamlined Mid Century style. Hollywood Regency interiors decorate with bold colors, geometric shapes, animal prints, and glamorous accessories for an overdone space that still feels sleek and balanced.
Why Regency Style is Trending in Interior Design Today
So, why is the Regency style trending in interior design almost 200 years after its origination? We see a trend of homeowners and designers gravitating towards luxurious home comforts to create spaces perfect for elegant entertaining and comfortable relaxation. Minimalist decor has been traded in for maximalist design, which the Regency style perfectly lends itself to. Plus, we see a cultural fascination with the period, evident in the popularity of new programs like Bridgerton, Emma, and Downton Abbey, which laid the foundation for Regency mania.
A manor house isn’t required for the Regency look. This style can be implemented in any traditional home with rich wood furnishings, elegant brass fixtures, refined striped draperies, and artwork of the English countryside. If you’re looking to refresh your home with Regency sophistication, contact our Texas-based interior designers and architects for a consultation.