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French Empire Style

French Empire Style

Throughout the early 19th Century the French Empire Style evolved from the court of Emperor Napoleon Bonaparte.

It used heavy classical designs and geometric form whilst retaining an air of fineness along with soft draped fabrics and highly polished veneers.

Strong colors were prevalent in interiors introduced when the French gentry returned from their military sessions in Egypt.

The Egyptian tombs that they had seen and their use of vibrant colors inspired them. Azure blues, rich greens, red ochre and acid yellows became popular for interior decoration.

Softer colors were still used, lilac being one of the most popular.

The military influence of Napoleon lead to formality in the arrangement of furniture, this was softened with the abundant use of drapery.

Carving was not popular but the use of ormolu mounts of classical motifs; laurel wreaths, urns, and sphinxes were for detailing throughout the room as well as hardware.

Egyptian motifs were also prevalent, lions, hieroglyphics, palms, winged griffins, cobras and sphinxes.

The most favored timber used for furniture was mahogany, fruitwoods, yew, elm and maple were still seen and the use of imported veneers from Africa and West and East Indies.

Most furniture had curves for example scroll backed daybeds and chairs.

The preferred decoration materials were marble and tortoiseshell and were used for ornaments.

More information on Styles and Periods of Interior Decorating

Styles and Periods
Furniture History
Decorating Styles
Period Decoration
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About the Author – Lee Brown

Lee Brown is the co founder of, she has worked in the Interior Design Industry for over 23 years, specializing in commercial, hospitality, high end architectural homes and retail design. Over the past 13 years Lee and Chris Brown have been collating their wealth of design knowledge to provide free interior decorating education to the world. Make sure you register for your free ecourse today. Free Interior Decorating eCourse