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The world of interior design is often influenced by history and famous architects, and one of those influences has been ancient Rome’s design. As one of the most powerful civilizations of all-time, the Roman influence spread across the globe – which saw many different cultures and styles feed from and be inspired by their design.

What was the Roman style?

The ancient roman style primarily focused on color, patterns and stunning mosaic murals and in the most luxurious villas, where resources existed, there was no such thing as a bare wall. Homes were carefully crafted with intricate and sumptuous architecture, with exposed pillars and columns mixing with high arched ceilings.

Adobe Stock Image: Ancient Roman Mural

Extravagance was the order of business and a lot of the designs and style was heavily influenced by the ancient Greeks – who in turn were heavily influenced by the ancient Egyptians. Although the walls and overall style of the homes were elaborate, furniture was heavily based on a minimalist nature, only being included if it had a purpose. What furnishings were included in the home however, were of the highest quality and design.

The Romans were one of the first civilizations to give each room a purpose, with the layout of the home carefully planned and gardens and outdoor spaces featuring stunning fountains with any foliage trimmed and kept tidy.

Many Roman architects were inspired by the natural landscape, so typical designs featured plenty of earthy tones such as terra cotta, orange and green. Quite often there would be additions of gold and red throughout the home too; tributes to the sun and flowers. In keeping with the sumptuous walls, a traditional Roman floor would be made of limestone or marble that would be free from rugs or material.

Adobe Stock: Tuscan terracotta female statues, Impruneta, Tuscany, Italy, Europe

How has it influenced modern design?

Our modern interior design styles have also been influenced by the Roman culture. This makes sense when you consider that the homes that we live in lend themselves to the architecture of the era, typically being two stories high and with every room having a set purpose.

When mimicking the Roman’s, modern design can focus on opening rooms up and creating a bright and spacious area. Minimalism, also a common theme in modern design, along with the idea that “less is more” can also borrow this feature from ancient Rome. Minimalism’s popularity has steadily increased in recent years, with the space it creates oddly becoming synonymous with luxury and high-end interior design.

Adobe Stock: White classic room with column

Equally, the materials that we use to create a luxurious space are very similar. We still use marble, bronze, silver and gilded timber when we creating a feeling of beauty and extravagance. The inclusion of columns and arched doorways and windows also help to establish a feeling of grandeur in the home.

Although we typically now favor brighter colors in our home and often use a light color such as off-white on our walls (which was actually a common theme in ancient Greece), in recent years modern interior design has implemented a feature wall. These feature walls are often a contrasting color to the rest of room and can mirror the Pompeii-era of Roman design, which focused more on bright colors than the traditional earthy tones.

Adobe Stock: Interior of a roman villa in Herculaneum. Naples, Italy.

Equally many modern designers like to create a bold backsplash feature in kitchens and bathrooms, using tiled mosaics and murals.

Adobe Stock Image

Some furnishings that have become commonplace in modern interior design, from stuffed accent pillows to ornate foot stools and backless sofas, are all influenced by ancient Rome too.

There are many different ways in which ancient Rome has inspired the world around us and despite being thousands of years old, the interiors of our homes can still be reminiscent of that era.