Formal Interior Design Style

Formal interior design style living room.

Formal interior design style is intended to attract attention and to be impressive. It has a few similar characteristics with the traditional interior design style but opposite characteristics with the casual interior design style. Formal interior design style is found in commercial establishments, residential homes, elegant hotels, and historical buildings such as Buckingham Palace and the White House.

Formal interior design style makes a room look luxurious, elegant, and attractive. It emphasizes the architectural details in the space being designed with the use of ornate design elements and accessories. The most important elements to consider when creating a formal design layout are symmetrical and vertical lines.

Here are some of the elements used in the formal interior design style:

  • Pairs of matched furniture and accessories creating the feeling of a formal orderly living space. 
  • Unique pieces of fine wood and upholstered furniture are incorporated into the design space.
  • Upholstery in the formal stye will often be decorated with tassels and fringes for a more formal look.
  • Furniture and accessories used in the formal style are often vintage or antique.
  • Furniture pieces are often made from dark polished woods such as oak, cherry, mahogany, and walnut. 
  • Intricate carved details on wood furniture pieces are common with the formal interior design style.

Formal interior design bathroom.

  • Lighter woods are used for decorative design pieces.
  • Pairs of objects are typically arranged in balanced symmetry.
  • Imported Oriental rugs and Persian hand-made carpets.
  • High ceilings, long window treatments, and architectural features such as beautifully paneled walls, chair rails, attractive wallpaper, elaborate crown mouldings with carved details, and pilaster columns.

  • Focal point is an important element when designing a room with the formal interior design style.
  • The focal point can be an elegant fireplace mantle, a large bay window, elaborate window coverings, a piece of furniture, high ceilings, a large mirror, a crystal chandelier,  Oriental rugs, paneled walls, or oil paintings with vintage frames.
  • Elegant and luxurious fabrics such as brocades, velvets, chenille, moirés, jacquards, silks, chintz, and damasks are used in the formal interior design style.
  • Surfaces in the formal interior style (accessories, floors) are polished with a high gloss shine. 

Formal interior design style bedroom.

  • Hardwood and natural stone flooring such as marble are used in formal interior design style.
  • Small patterns and prints are used in formal interior design styles such as vertical stripes, florals, trellis, arabesques, and medallion patterns.
  • Colors used in the formal interior design style are a combination of neutral colors and pastel colors: beige, sand, red, blue, tangerine, peach, olive green, off-white, emerald green, gold, and grey. 
  • Window treatments in the formal design style are extra long; hanging from the ceiling to the floor and made from a heavy fabric. Fringes and valances are often added to drapes in the formal style.
  • Stone or bronze symbolic sculptures will be displayed on pedestals.

Recognizing the elements of the formal interior design style in the living room pictured below:

Formal interior design style living room.

This formal living room has symmetrical elegance and straight vertical lines, which suggest a clean orderly living space. This living room has high ceilings and intricate wall and ceiling mouldings. The fireplace mantle and box are also elegant in design. The furnishings in this room are well balanced with two identical sofas and chairs. The sofas are made of a smooth formal fabric. The sofas and chairs are arranged to emphasize the impressive arched mirror above the fireplace. The main window has elegant large drapes. The accessories (large marble plant pot and oil painting) add more elegance to the room.

For more information on interior design styles read my previous articles Interior Design Styles and Mixing Styles in Interior Design.



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