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If you’re the sort of person whose idea of a perfect Sunday morning includes café au lait, flakey croissants, French jam, a thick newspaper and Bach on the radio, then maybe you’re secretly longing for a touch of Baroque in your life. It’s a style that’s unfairly taken on a dismissive reputation in the decades since Modernism burst on the scene, especially since many people tend to confuse it with the excesses of the Rocco period that came afterward. The Baroque used an accumulation of expressive and beautiful detail to convey a sense of joyful exuberance and grandeur. To pull it off, however, requires a kind of lovely compositional tension. Just remember, harmony and counterpoint were what set Bach’s wonderful music apart from the polyphony that had gone before.
There’s a magnificent Italian and wonderful Middle European Baroque style, but when most of us think of that look, it’s the Paris of Louis XIV that comes to mind. His great palace at Versailles, with its gorgeous chandeliers and crystal candelabras, and his additions and refurbishments to the Louvre are monuments to that dramatic but somehow lovely exuberance that has captivated lovers of formal beauty ever since. The era's key elements can easily be incorporated into a modern setting, as the owner of this Bassett Road flat did in London.
There’s nothing quite like a Baroque gesture to bring a touch of elegant drama into an otherwise formal modern living room or dining room. At the London flat, all it takes is a pair of arm chairs done in the Baroque variation called “empire.” Note how the deep blue of the upholstery and the resonant gold of the wood frame perfectly match that musical ideal - harmony and counterpoint.
Deep color and a splash of gold trim can bring a touch of the Baroque into your intimate spaces, but don’t forget the part that texture has to play. The Baroque is about satin, as in the hanging slippers, ruffles and, even, brocades. Remember, it’s the accumulation of beautiful details that makes the look. The triple vanity mirror in this bedroom is a perfect complimentary touch.
You can introduce a wonderfully evocative hint of the Baroque with nothing more than a few strips of gold-painted stock molding and a deep wash of a green or blue hue. A vintage dress set against such a backdrop suddenly takes on the attributes of art, which is sort of what the Baroque does for everything and everyone it surrounds.
Baroque is fearless of beauty even when it tends to exuberant eccentricity, as in the case of this wonderful corner chair with its applied medallion and shell leg design. The fan and hanging slippers are the perfect counterpoint to the elaborate gold frame and the deep color completes a wonderfully gilded vignette.
Decor photos by 1st Option.