Revolutionary Style: Louis XVI

July 12, 2017

By Tab Byrum

Today is a Best Of Tabulous Design as we look back at an article I wrote and posted three years ago this week on the Louis XVI style of decorating. We’ll be going with a French theme all this week as our friends in France prepare to celebrate Bastille Day this Friday, July 14th. Join me now for a little design history lesson and Enjoy!!!louis16_1

King Louis XVI

Today we stay in France (I wish) and focus on the decorating style known as Louis XVI or Neoclassicism.    Louis XVI and his wife Marie-Antoinette were the unlucky monarchs on the throne at the time of the French Revolution, and as we know it didn’t end well for Louis and Marie, they both lost their heads over the whole situation.  The Rococo style of decorating had been in favor for many years in Europe, but in the latter years of Louis’ reign, there was a kind of revolt against the excessive curves and carvings of Rococo in favor of a more streamlined look of right angles and straight lines.  Furniture was now described as restrained, with a definite Greek influence in the use of fluted columns, the Greek key, and band, laurel wreaths, and animals such as dolphins and monkeys as well as shells and flowers.  King Louis was said to have loved pastel colors and was also heavily influenced by his Austrian-born wife Marie and her tastes as she began having custom furniture made for her apartments at Versailles.  The French Revolution began in 1789, but Louis and his family weren’t formally arrested until 1792.  Louis XVI was executed by guillotine in January of 1793, he was only 38 years old.  Here’s a peek at the design legacy left to us by the last Bourbon King of France. (above image via)


A Louis XVI style dressing table, note the fluted legs. (via)

louis16_3A pair of Chenets, they were used to decorate the lower front of fireplaces.  A good example of how fruit, flowers and animal images were used in a design. (via)

louis16_5A gorgeous pair of red armchairs with fluted legs and carving along the top. (via)

louis16_6A terracotta bust of a young girl. (via)

louis16_4A carved bed with caning featuring fluted legs, carved garlands, and bows. (via)

A watercolor rendering of a Louis XVI style boudoir

A watercolor rendering of a Louis XVI style boudoir. (via)

One of my personal favorite things to come out of the Louis XVI decorating period is the oval-backed chair.  We have one that I’m getting ready to reupholster and move from the living room to the bedroom.louis16_9


Louis XVI style armchairs

Louis XVI style armchairs


Love these classic style chairs in a contemporary fabric. (via)

I hope you can find some inspiration in the designs of yesterday for your home today. Have a great Wednesday and Enjoy!!!

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