10 Characteristics of Roman Interior Design

Roman interior design has been around for centuries. This style has influenced many of the newer more modern styles throughout the ages. To help you become familiar with the elements of this old art form that has inspired us all, here are 10 characteristics of Roman interior design.

1. Stucco finished walls

From the earliest times in Roman interior decor, stucco walls were a part of the scheme. This was more out of necessity than anything else. The first stucco homes were small and very plain with little thought to interior decorating through accessorizing. This is one of the foundations and a solid element that lends the patterns achieved through stucco finishing as a characteristic of the patterning used in Roman interior design.

2. Rich deep colors

Another characteristic of Roman interior design is the use of rich deep colors that center the focus around reds and yellows. In early interior decor, panels were drawn from the walls and painted to create patterns and sometimes images or focal points. The earlier versions were quite simple, but through time, they have evolved to take on more complex elements.

3. Mosaic effects

Once the Romans learned the value of color in interior decorating, they began to experiment with a variety of colors. They created mosaic work that included the piecing together of colored glass that produced a jewel effect. Mosaics have taken on many new forms in the evolution of Roman design but this remains an element that is easy to identify in an overall scheme.

4. Marble slab

The use of marble became popular in early Roman homes and temples. Skilled craftsmen created interior marvels by combining a variety of marble slabs they cut together. They learned how to combine different tints together to create brilliant patterns for flooring, cornices, and more. The infusion of marble in flooring, countertops, tables, tiles, and a variety of accessories including even rolling pins used in the kitchen offer a Roman styling.

5. Stucco wall figures

Stucco was applied to interior design elements in the form of raised figures that were carefully created by skilled artisans. They were carved directly into the stucco work of the buildings and then enhanced with the use of a variety of colors including gold and bright jewel-like hues. We can infer that a characteristic of Roman interior design is the use of similar accents on the interior walls. This extends to the treatment that is used to highlight certain walls with a Roman motif that is molded into the trim or into the applied stucco on walls.

6. Tapestry

The use of wall tapestry began in Egypt, but it was imported by the Romans centuries ago. This has since become an element of Roman interior design that has spread throughout the world. From the use of tapestry, we see the characteristic of creative wall hangings. There is a distinction between paintings, photographs, prints, and murals. Tapestries are in their own category and are a creative approach to wall decor because they are made of woven materials that are often made with richly colored fibers combined to create an image, design, or picture.

7. Bronze work

The Romans used bronze to make a variety of household equipment as well as furniture. Bronze is a material that is characteristic of Roman interior design. Some homeowners intersperse bronze statuettes, bowls, platters, mirrors, and furniture when going for a Roman interior vibe. This is a metal that has been used for a variety of interior decor pieces. One of the most popular uses for this element of Roman design is for creating statues and figurines. You may also see bronze tiles occasionally, used as trivets for pots, spoons and other kitchen items.

8. Pedestals

Pedestals were big in Roman design. You can see this influence in some bathroom sinks, and in accessory tables. A singular column that holds the basin or round tabletops are commonly seen in Roman interior design. This design feature is common in both Roman and Greek interior design. Roman interior design has borrowed heavily from the design characteristics adopted by the Greeks.

9. Terra Cotta

Terra cotta with its rich earthy orange and reddish hues is another element of Roman interior design that has been in existence for hundreds of years. This was a natural building material that the Romans harvested from the earth. It was in good supply and was used in both exterior design and interior design. On the exterior, it is more commonly used in outdoor planters and in rooftops. On the interior, you’ll find a variety of accessories made from terra cotta, most commonly containers and vessels.

10. Vaults and arches

Vaulted ceilings are a characteristic of Roman interior design. This is a characteristic of design that was adopted from the Etruscans. There are several different kinds of vault designs used to use this design feature in a variety of ways. Some vaults are elevated to create a sense of height.

It’s common to see this characteristic in cathedrals and churches, but it is also used to enhance the interior of homes/residences. Another architectural characteristic of Roman interior design is the use of arches. Like vault designs that are more common on the exterior, this feature is frequently modified to create interesting focal points in larger homes. You also see relief carvings in arches found within homes.

The most predominant in Roman design is the use of stalks and Acanthus leaves. You may also see figures carved into some of these arches. White and light gray colors that mimic the lime concrete that the Romans are credited with discovering are the most common colors that are applied for interior arch work, but some designers prefer to add contrasting colors in rich earth tones. The use of vaults and arches serve two main purposes in interior design. These are to create the illusion of depth and space, and in some cases, to render an ornate focal point in a room.

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