Embrace your dark side with modern gothic, an aesthetic that’s steeped in history and is more sumptuous than spooky.
Anticipated to be one of the biggest (and most surprising) interior design trends but not for the faint-hearted, 'modern gothic' – closely related to the dark academia aesthetic – is all about dark and moody colours, sumptuous materials and vintage oddities.
Inspired by the gothic architecture of medieval Europe and the later gothic revival period of Victorian England, modern gothic sounds cold and Halloween-ish. But done right, it can feel warm, snug and opulent. You can also bring the outdoors in by styling with things from nature, such as feathers and foliage.
Here's how to transform a room into a cosy gothic bolt hole without making it look like Hogwarts.
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Pick the right room: While you don't need to live in a converted cathedral, the modern gothic trend works well in a spacious room with higher ceilings. That said, you can update any formal space such as a separate dining room, sitting room, study or bedroom with just a darker paint and a few tweaks.
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Opt for dark and moody colours: Don't just douse your walls in black or grey paint. Think 'jewel tones' such as deep purple, emerald-green, burgundy, rich red or sapphire for walls, window treatments or furniture. Even brown is making a comeback, so consider getting on the bandwagon and sprucing your room with dirt-inspired hues.
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Channel your inner Marie Antoinette: Luxurious fabrics such as velvet or suede are a must - as seen here on the walls of a freestanding Victorian home in Elwood. Scour vintage shops or markets for quality pieces of furniture you can reupholster. Dress windows with lush velvet drapes or moody sheer curtains that 'puddle' at the floor (or, both).
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Warm up with wood: Timber gives the Gothic interior that solid and 'established' look, as well as warmth. Consider elaborate mouldings such as unpainted varnished architraves, a chimneypiece or wainscoting. Expose timber beams and lavish them with a dark stain. Or for something less permanent, hunt for pre-loved, hardwood furniture such as a credenza, desk or coffee table.
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Adorn your walls: Gothic interiors call for patterned wallpapers or timber wainscoting, as well as early Victorian-era dado rails or picture rails. If you don't want to commit to completely dark walls, consider painting up to a dado rail or wallpapering a feature wall only. Floral or damask wallpaper is ideal.
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It's all in the detail: Think like a maximalist and style the room with tassels, gold or brass elements, old leather-bound books and curiosities. Of course, any black accoutrement (book ends, vases, sculptures) will embody the goth vibe. Hit up antique stores for oddities. If you're really brave, a vintage taxidermy piece could be a real conversation starter (or, a cruelty-free deer mount made of resin or timber).
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Make it lit: The gothic aesthetic is all about soft, warm, indirect lighting. Down lights and strip lighting have no place here. A chandelier (vintage or modern) is perfect, as are candelabras if that's your jam. Complete the picture with wrought-iron table lamps or sconces.
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Add art: Nail the look with tapestries and Victorian-esque portraits in gilded frames. Or, seek out dark and brooding modern paintings such as this one by Fiona McKerrell. For an even more luxe European vibe, hang art from the ceiling to the floor – 'salon style' – as the French did traditionally.
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Go wild with dark romance: Bring elements of the outdoors into your modern-gothic space, with freshly-cut red roses and sprigs of greenery. This vignette goes one step further, paying homage to the moon and the macabre.
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Anchor it all: Warm up your timber or stone floors with soft floor coverings. Choose a dramatic printed rug or traditional Persian rug to support your vintage interior finds. If you're game, a faux-fur rug will evoke a medieval vibe while feeling cosy underfoot.