What is Carolean?

Carolean refers to the style of furniture and interior design from the reign of Charles II in England.


Carolean, also known as Restoration style, is a period in interior design that coincided with the reign of Charles II from 1660 to 1685 in England. This era marked a significant shift from the austerity of Puritan design to a more ornate and lavish aesthetic, heavily influenced by the French and Dutch styles of the time. Carolean style is characterized by its opulence, the use of luxurious materials, and elaborate detailing.

In furniture, Carolean pieces often feature intricate carvings, ornate marquetry, and the widespread use of walnut as a material. Upholstery became more lavish, with textiles like velvet and damask being popular choices. This period also saw the introduction of more comfortable and decorative furniture forms, such as the wingback chair and the daybed.

Architecturally, the Carolean period embraced more decorative and grandiose interiors. Rooms were designed with high ceilings embellished with intricate plasterwork, and the use of wall paneling and large fireplaces added to the overall sense of grandeur. The influence of Carolean style extends beyond its time, with elements being incorporated into later design movements and continuing to inspire contemporary interior design.


An example of Carolean design in a modern context might be a living room that features a reproduction of a wingback chair from the period, adorned with velvet upholstery. This could be complemented by ornate wooden furniture pieces with intricate carvings, and the walls could be decorated with detailed paneling or tapestries that reflect the opulence characteristic of the era. The overall effect would be a space that exudes luxury and historical charm, embodying the lavishness of the Carolean aesthetic.


  • How is Carolean style different from Baroque?

    Carolean style and Baroque both embrace opulence and elaborate detailing, but Carolean tends to focus more on intricate furniture craftsmanship and the use of specific materials like walnut. Baroque, on the other hand, is broader in scope, encompassing dramatic and grand architectural elements, often with a focus on theatricality and movement.

  • What materials are commonly used in Carolean design?

    Luxurious materials such as walnut for furniture, alongside velvet and damask for upholstery, are hallmarks of Carolean design. Gold, silver, and other metallic accents were also commonly used to enhance the opulence of the decor.

  • Can Carolean style be incorporated into modern interiors?

    Absolutely. Elements of Carolean design, such as wingback chairs, ornate wooden furniture, and luxurious textiles, can add depth and historical character to contemporary interiors. Incorporating these elements in a modern setting creates a unique blend of old-world charm and modern elegance.

Practical Application

When incorporating Carolean elements into modern interiors, focus on selecting key pieces of furniture or decor that reflect the period's opulence without overwhelming the space. Choose ornately carved wooden furniture, lavish textiles, and decorative accents to add depth and character. Mixing these with contemporary elements can create a balanced and visually interesting space. It's also important to pay attention to detail, as the intricacy and craftsmanship of Carolean pieces are significant aspects of the style.