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7 Popular Home Designs That Originate in the Roman Empire

7 Popular Home Designs That Originate in the Roman Empire

Your appreciation for timeless aesthetics may well stem from historical influences.

Recently, the Roman Empire has been the subject of much buzz. The trend involved asking men about the frequency of their thoughts on the Roman Empire. Interestingly, many reveal that they contemplate this ancient realm regularly, be it daily or weekly.

This online trend, though lighthearted, underscores a deeper intrigue surrounding the Roman Empire. The Romans’ sophisticated sense of style endures to this day, influencing our surroundings in subtle ways.

Consider the architectural and interior design elements in modern homes: from ornamental edgings to patterned tiles, elegant window decor to sculptural features, many aspects draw inspiration from Roman innovations dating back millennia. Here, we explore several home design features whose origins can be traced back to the Roman Empire.

1. Open Floor Plans

The appeal of open floor plans has fluctuated over the years, but gained significant popularity in the 1990s, especially in newly built homes. Despite some challenges in decorating these expansive spaces, the concept remains popular. Interestingly, this architectural style can be traced back to the Roman Empire.

In ancient Rome, homes were often designed around a central great room, known as a domus. These homes typically featured a spacious atrium, serving as a hub for social gatherings, surrounded by various rooms for sleeping, working, or other activities. This atrium was a pivotal space, linking different parts of the house, similar to how a kitchen today seamlessly connects to a living room and dining area in contemporary open-plan designs. This layout was intended to create a welcoming atmosphere, fostering stronger connections among the residents and visitors alike.

2. Roman Window Shades

It may not be unexpected, but it’s true that Roman-style shades have their roots in ancient Rome. Archaeological findings in Pompeii included early examples of these shades. In contrast to their modern decorative role, these shades were initially used by the Romans for practical reasons: to block out dust and heat. Notably, the shades in historical settings, like the Colosseum, were distinctively hung in a horizontal orientation.

3. Herringbone Motif

Herringbone patterns, often seen in contemporary homes on floors or tiles, are a classic design element. This pattern, believed to be pioneered by the Romans for architectural use, reportedly drew inspiration from the skeletal structure of a herring fish, which explains the name. The Romans used this design to construct roads across their empire.

In modern times, this pattern is predominantly used in flooring applications, encompassing both wooden and tiled surfaces, as well as in various types of tiled walls, such as kitchen backsplashes and shower enclosures.

4. Crown Molding

While molding wasn’t originally a Roman invention, having been used earlier by the Egyptians and Greeks, the Romans were instrumental in refining it. Opting for simplicity over intricate designs, they adorned their ceilings with half-round and quarter-round moldings. These designs are still prevalent in modern homes, with a significant distinction being the materials used. Unlike the ancient Romans who employed marble or stone for crown molding, contemporary builders typically opt for more manageable materials like wood or plastic. Today, even temporary Roman-inspired decor can be achieved with ease, using items like Command strips to affix trim around ceilings.

5. Bold Color Accents

Homes in the Roman Empire typically featured a palette of earth-toned neutrals, but they also embraced vibrant colors for decorative accents. Popular choices included red and yellow, along with touches of blues, purples, and blacks, which were introduced through items like rugs, art pieces, and cushions.

For those moving away from minimalism but not fully embracing maximalism, a nod to historical styling can be the perfect middle ground. Emulate this approach by maintaining a largely neutral base and adding pops of a bold color in subtle ways.

6. Shaped Candles

Currently, uniquely shaped candles are very popular, drawing inspiration, albeit loosely, from the renowned hand-carved statues of the Roman Empire. To elevate this trend, consider seeking out candles designed to resemble Roman statue busts, similar to those that adorned ancient homes, adding a fun and conversation-sparking element to your décor.

7. Modest Furniture with Lots of Pillows

Even with their grandiose great rooms, the Romans were rather conservative in their use of furniture. This minimalism, much like the contemporary open-concept approach, was aimed at encouraging social gathering by placing fewer furniture pieces close together. The modern trend towards a “less is more” aesthetic, often associated with a desire for a clutter-free environment, can, in a way, trace its roots back to the Roman ethos of prioritizing quality over quantity in furniture choices.

A notable piece of furniture that has endured through the ages is the chaise lounge. Preceded by similar furniture in Egyptian and Greek cultures, the Romans introduced upholstery to these lounges, enhancing comfort with numerous cushions. This practice of using abundant throw pillows mirrors our own current trends, though it’s uncertain if the Romans were familiar with the contemporary ‘pillow chop’ technique.

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