Style 101: What is Romantic Design?

By: Sarah Beaumont

April 12, 2017

Image via A+B Kasha

We’ve explained why traditional design is back, we’ve broken down mid-century modern, and now we’re coming out from under our silken sheets to teach you a lesson about romance. Ok, romantic design.

Contrary to popular belief, romantic design isn’t all floral prints and frill. And it’s not just rose petals spread across red satin bedding either. The beauty of the romantic look lies in its versatility. Bits and pieces of the style can be sprinkled into nearly any kind of space, from rustic to contemporary. Curious? Then cue some slow jams and join us as we take you through the world of romantic design.


Romantic design is basically the refined relative of shabby chic. It’s all about appealing to the senses and creating a space that’s warm, welcoming and timeless. They both favor delicate shapes and draw inspiration from quaint cottages in the French countryside, but romantic design borrows more of its aesthetic from French Neoclassical style and the timelessness of traditional interiors. But it’s not all gilded frames and floral ruffles: Done right, romantic spaces can feel fresh and contemporary.


When it comes to romantic design, forget about bedrooms bathed in rich reds. Warm colors aren’t the only way to turn up the heat. Romantic spaces are more princess less seductress. So start with a neutral palette upon which you can paint pretty little details. Creamy whites are ideal for walls, while natural hardwood floors add warmth. Infuse muted, pastels like dusty pink and pale blue to create a calming space.


Grand in scale and ornate in detail, baroque and rococo furnishings were the original pinpoints of romantic design. Today, lavish pieces aren’t necessary for creating a romantic space, but the same flowery, decorative charm can be brought in through ornamented decor like mirrors and frames. For furniture, opt for relaxing items with graceful curves. Think classic canopies or wrought iron beds, Louis XV chairs in the dining room, and curvaceous couches in the living room. But make sure to mix in a healthy blend of styles by incorporating modern pieces and pairing them with vintage gems.


Bling is big for romantic design, but it’s timeless and sophisticated rather than bold and garish. Crystal chandeliers hang from the ceiling, gold accents and brass details spot the halls and corners. For a little natural romance, embrace original hardwood floors and architecture. Marble surfaces recall the luxury of palatial spaces, but feel clean and modern at the same time.


In terms of texture, soft and ethereal is a must, so opt for silky swatches and sheer, fluttering curtains. Velvet upholstery in contemporary pastel and jewel tones helps create that romance-infused, Parisian look. In the bedroom, lush fabrics and soft, delicately embroidered bedding is ideal.

When it comes to pattern, romantic design tends to err more towards the minimal side. But for those that have a penchant for prints, feel free to mix and match traditional florals and stripes with bold bohemian rugs for a more layered look. Just keep it all in balance by using soft or silky textures elsewhere.


Romantic spaces invigorate the senses, so eye-catching art, fragrant candles, and fresh florals are a must. Pair classic portraiture or still-lifes with contemporary photography while keeping most of the surrounding decor simple and refined. A few polished accents like large, gold mirrors or luxe, decorative vases add timeless elegance and heighten the material senses.

Style 101: What is Romantic Design?, Laurel & Wolf,

1. Slub Velvet Marryn Chair, Anthropologie, $1,698 / 2. Scroll Motif Mirror, Horchow, $1,100 / 3. Filmore 4-Light Crystal Chandelier, Wayfair, $898.20 / 4. “Bath” Wall Art Print, Minted, $23-$725 / 5. Box Frame Narrow Marble Coffee Table, West Elm, $599 / 6. Nearly Natural Cherry Blossoms, Target, $88.99 / 7. Communion Shag Rug, CB2, $599-$1,199

Next Article
Related Posts
Mad about Modernism