Raunchy regency drama Bridgerton, in its first month on Netflix, was streamed by 82 million households, becoming the most watched show at the time in France, the US and, of course, the UK.
The set was stunning, the costumes decadent and the music a beautiful amalgamation of contemporary and classical. This isn’t the first time a period drama has thoroughly captured the public imagination – Downton Abbey has taken its place as a beloved national treasure, sure to be watched and rewatched by generations to come.
But what I want to know is how I can give my own space a bit of that Bridgerton regency-era razzle dazzle, importing the luxurious features of these decadent dramas for a slightly less-regal price. “ It is about taking the best of the past and marrying it with the contemporary,” says Rachel Hall, head of interiors at Octagon Developments.
“It is all too easy to focus on the soft decorative touches when thinking about injecting the character of a period home into a modern property. Getting the right colours, patterns and textures will help emulate the look of a period home.”
A quick look towards interior design Instagram suggests many people are turning to panelling to add character to a property, much of it totally done DIY, using neutral colours and pastels to change the whole feel of a room.
If you don’t have the luxury of original panelling, you can recreate the look with MDF and paint, which may sound a little Changing Rooms but can look great if you find a decent carpenter.
“The colour palette for creating period ambience in a contemporary home is also very important,” says Hall. “Stark white is never going to look timeless. Opt for shades of green, blues, pinks and yellows to inject a sense of heritage into a more contemporary property.”
If reaching for the paint isn’t your thing, soft furnishings in these shades can help take your space from standard to stately. A dressing table with a gold trim, or a plush velvet armchair or chaise longue in a dusky pink or duck egg green have the potential to elevate a room, combining elements of old and new. As for lighting, Rachel says bolder is often better.
“Statement lighting is another easy and relatively quick way to emulate the look of a heritage property. It allows you to alter the tone, atmosphere and mood of any room. We often install statement lighting pieces in our properties, allowing us to emphasise the high ceilings our clients demand, but also as a nod back to the ostentatious style of Victorian properties.”
If you’re on a slightly bigger budget, however, there’s one thing no period drama would be complete without: a raging hearth.
“A more immediate way of injecting some heritage into a contemporary home is installing a fireplace,” says Laurence Holder, head of bespoke at Octagon. “Whilst we no longer need to rely on fireplaces to heat our homes, one of the simplest ways to make the contemporary feel more period, is to install a fireplace. Acting as a centrepiece of the room, it instantly adds interest and depth, drawing the eye in. After all, home is where the hearth is.”
So, to make your home feel more like the Bridgerton’s Grosvenor Square pad, or the Crawley family’s Yorkshire estate, stick up some wood panelling, invest in some antique pieces and stock up on firewood. What’s wrong with living in the past?