Formal decorating is starting to see a resurgence. A few classic touches could be just the thing to give a home that feel.
One of the hallmarks of formal decorating is symmetry. Tables and lamps don't make a singular statement; instead, they are paired for a balanced look. In fact, this matching effect is what can give a room timeless appeal. From lamps to end tables, chairs to vases on the fireplace mantel, pairs exude elegance.
Whether it's a picture window or a fireplace, all formal designs also work to emphasize a room's natural focal point. When you want to add a formal touch to a room, select one distinctive feature, such as a fireplace, table, couch or piece of artwork and orient other furnishings to emphasize this feature.
Another key ingredient in a formally designed room is an emphasis on plush fabrics in rich textures and colors. That doesn't mean all fabrics must be in jewel tones, but it helps. A formal room can have pale damasks as easily as they can have heavy velvets, yet both can be called formal.
When creating a formal design, look for upholstery or drapes that are heavy and richly colored, whether those hues are pale or deep.
Another way to ramp up elegance is to layer in gilding. Look for furniture with golden or silvered accents.
Without question, dark woods create instant formality. Dark cherry, mahogany and walnut pieces give a room an attractiveness a pickled finish can't match. Highly carved furniture is especially graceful and formal.
Include inlaid brass or gold finishes and heavy gold or dark wood frames on artwork.
Add formal lighting elements. Chandeliers dripping in crystal and shining brass or silver are the crowning glory of many an elegant room. Be sure to hang your chandelier low enough so it lights the room, not the ceiling.
Wall sconces add a soft light. Putting all lighting fixtures on a dimmer will instantly add drama and elegance.
Don't overlook simple touches like crystal dishes, a silk tassel dangling from a desk key, a majestic potted palm in the corner of a room, or a pair of small carved chairs tucked in a corner.