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Ancient Egypt’s Influence On Modern Interior Design – Architecture & Décor

Ancient Egypt’s Influence On Modern Interior Design – Architecture & Décor

Interior design and architecture have changed dramatically over the past hundreds of years. We’ve gone from the French Renaissance style of ornate decorations and fine details between the year 1400-1600, to a more “arts and crafts” decor style from 1860-1910, and finally a more suburban take on modernism from 1930 until today.

Bauhaus, art deco, art nouveau, neoclassical… These are some of the many “styles” we’ve come to know across the years. Quite frankly, it’s incredible how much interior design has changed in the span of 500+ years.

One of the cultures that have contributed to modern design is the Egyptian one – from one of the oldest civilizations ever to exist. But how exactly has this ancient culture influenced interior design as we know it today?

What we know for certain is that Egyptian style is one of the primary sources for other styles found across Europe. Read on to discover more about this style, how it has influenced today’s interior designs, and how you can replicate it.

Some Notable Qualities of Ancient Egypt’s Architecture

Rich with golden tones, regal fabrics, elaborate artistry, and elegant furnishings, Ancient Egypt’s interior design typically has a bold feeling with a strong “sacred” and “wealthy” expression. Immediately upon viewing these designs, one usually knows its origin.

What is most often seen today in buildings, gardens, and other architectural structures stemmed from Ancient Egyptian culture, including pyramid-form structures.

In fact, you can easily associate homes from early Egyptian times to that of New Mexico’s Pueblo Indians’ housing. This featured heavy, mud-dried bricks and straw, with very thick walls.

Egyptian Home
Lantern and window in adobe home in Santa Fe, New Mexico

The roofing systems were a combination of straw and palm leaves, which may have also possibly influenced Tudor thatched roofs many centuries later.

Back then, it was rectangular forms, repetitive rows of columns, limestone, awning-covered courtyards, and carved greetings at the entrance doors that distinguished the Ancient Egyptian interior design.

What was most favored were the ideas of large, solid structures, backed by incredibly strong foundations, durability, and reliability. These structures were formed largely due to the climate in Egypt at the time, hot and dry, which heavily influenced the characteristics of interior and exterior design.

Ultimately, the intense sunlight and minimal rainfall led to flat roofs, high windows, roof ventilators to get air to the innermost rooms, and interior courts that were open for better airflow.

Some Ways To Replicate Egyptian Décor

If you want to recreate this Ancient Egypt look, we suggest focusing on light yellow or warm tones, including beige. The palette of this culture almost always consisted of beige to neutral shades, which seemed to be inspired by the sand dunes and desert hues surrounding the civilization. However, Egyptians were never afraid of pops of color!

Beige papyrus with elements of Egyptian ancient history

Embrace a very creative and artistic side when decorating a home, using patterned fabrics and furnishings, along with glazed tiles and ornate paintings.

You could also consider decorating the ceilings/floors with imagery (such as hieroglyphics) to distinguish this style even further. This imagery usually included various florals, such as palm trees and vines, as well as exotic animals.

When determining the corners and arches of a home, it’s best to go with a rounded look over square, as this was more of the Egyptian style. However, for windows and doors, arches were not usually seen.

Although much of ancient Egypt’s construction was done with granite, they also used soft stones when available including limestone. If you’re not in a rainy climate (as with ancient Egypt), opt for the occasional limestone when deciding on materials for parts of the home – an excellent choice for ornamental patterns, as it is easier to carve. Additionally, many interior columns were intricately detailed with vibrant colors and carvings – though colors have since faded.

Karnak Hypostyle hall columns in the Temple at Luxor Thebes

Other preferred material choices included sandstone, granite, ceramics, and alabaster, as these were more available in Egypt during this era.

Be sure to make use of Egyptian-themed ornaments as the final touch for that finished “ancient” look. You can also accent these with light cotton fabrics (for upholsteries, curtains, & bedding) and dark reed mats.

Egyptian Ornamental Shapes & Forms
Souvenir egyptian pyramid on a wooden table
Souvenir pyramid from Egypt on wooden table

The Ancient Egyptian style is incomparable to any other decor. It is utterly unique and signifies a critical time in our history when some interior design trends first began.

If you need decor that is unique, attractive, and unlike any other, the Ancient Egyptian style couldn’t be more perfect.

Ancient Egypt’s Influence On Modern Interior Design – Architecture & Décor

Ancient Rome’s Influence on Modern Interior Design

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.