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Formal Style

The formal style is one most often seen in historic buildings, public spaces, and period homes. Typically, the formal style includes elaborate architectural interest that would include beautiful molding, hardwood flooring, high ceilings, and plaster ceiling detailing. With this particular style, line and symmetry are very important.

The furniture for a formal style would be arranged on a straight axis and usually displayed along with the accessories in pairs. You will see finishes that are highly polished, large framed mirrors and picture frames, nice, high-end furniture, crystal light fixtures, and brass hardware. In most cases, the wood is dark, and has a high sheen. For the fabric, you would choose regular and traditional patterns that are smooth and luxurious.

Additionally, the formal style incorporates antiques and reproductions, framed oil paintings, Oriental rugs, beautiful prints, and so on. The nice thing about the formal style is that you can incorporate it in just about any home. Although the look is formal and clean, it should also be comfortable and inviting. The following are some other guidelines to follow when choosing a formal style for your home:
  • Since the furniture for a formal style is upholstered and rigid, you can soften the look and feel by adding softer cushioning and lots of throw pillows.

  • The fireplace mantle should be imposing, the artwork large, and the draperies made from rich, elegant fabric.

  • For fabric, you would go with something tightly woven that is natural fabrics such as glazed cotton, linen, silk, damask, brocade, and velvet. Other fabric that you could consider for accent would include tapestry, satin, and embroidery.

  • The formal style usually includes dark case pieces that would include armoires, tables, and shelving. This would be shiny and might include a gilt accent, leather insets, marble tops, and polished brass or nickel hardware.

  • Touches such as fringe, tassels, trim, double cording, pleats, and so on are often seen with upholstered furniture, draperies, and tablecloths.

  • Keep in mind that to achieve the formal look, everything in the room must be balanced, without making it look too harsh.

  • Detailing is very important for a formal look. You want tables that have carved legs, gilt mirrors, benches that are button tufted, and window treatments that flow gracefully onto the floor.

  • Use accessories that include china, brass, silver, fine wood, and crystal. You can also add flowers to the room to help soften the look.
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