From Jane Austen heroines to the sweeping crescents of Bath and the landscapes of Capability Brown, the Regency era is as quintessentially British as tea and scones. And Bridgerton – the record-breaking Regency romp which hit Netflix on Christmas day 2020 – has caused quite a trend for Georgian interiors and antiques.
Inspired by the series of novels by Julia Quinn, series one of Bridgerton follows Daphne – the eldest daughter of the powerful Bridgerton family – as she makes her debut into Regency London’s competitive marriage market. What follows is a mêlé of romance and scandal, as Daphne’s relationship with the brooding Duke of Hastings blossoms, and the commentary of mystery society writer Lady Whistledown set tongues wagging. But, drama aside, it’s the beautiful Regency interiors that piqued our interest!
When was the Regency period?
The last of the Georgian styles, the Regency period was named after the final King George, George IV. He was initially known as ‘Regent’ while he stood in for his father, George III, during his long bout of mental illness.
It was a prolific period for design and the end of the Napoleonic Wars in 1815 brought a renewed vigour and investment in building programmes across the country. Regency towns such as Cheltenham, Harrogate, Brighton, Tunbridge Wells and Leamington Spa were adorned with elegant, column-lined pump rooms, assembly rooms, crescents and squares, creating the signature graceful aesthetic that we all know so well today.
What does Regency style encompass?
The Regency style, in architecture as well as antiques, followed closely on from the neoclassical period in taking its core philosophy from Ancient Rome and Greece, but there was an additional lightness and grace that had not been seen before. Interiors were more extravagant and embellished, with bold striped wallpaper often used alongside classically inspired furniture and sculpture, but the lines were crisp and symmetrical, making the movement feel delicately restrained and exquisitely elegant.
The furniture of George Smith (1786-1826) exemplifies the style’s balance between the ‘old classical’ and the ‘new classical’. He was thought of highly by the aristocracy and claimed to be the Prince Regent’s ‘upholder extraordinary’. ‘Smith was a designer who reflected the whimsy of Regency design – the ultimate master of a mash up of historical styles, his work reflects the theatricality of the Regency,’ says David Macdonald.
More widely, furniture incorporated Greco-Roman embellishments, geometric shapes and inlays of different woods, but the silhouette was neat with thin, delicate legs and a light, feminine feel. Mahogany was the predominant wood of choice, with inlays often in rosewood or zebrawood, and embellishments in brass.
Regency designers often combined motifs and stylistic elements from the whole of the Georgian period, showing just how overlapping and interlinked this era was. Goldsmiths Rundell, Bridge and Rundell would often feature both classical and Egyptian imagery in their work, while clockmakers, whose trade really came to the fore during this period, would borrow motifs from all of the periods.
You might also enjoy:
- Explore the key Georgian design movements
- The history of Georgian style and how to recreate it at home
- The history of a Georgian bow-fronted chest of drawers
- The best hotels in Georgian spa towns
- How to buy antique Georgian furniture
How to create a Bridgerton-inspired look with Georgian antiques
Use the Georgian antiques that you already own to create elegant tableaux inspired by Netflix’s brand-new Regency drama…
Create a display of vintage curios on a chest of drawers, sideboard or dresser
Here, a traditional bow-fronted Georgian chest of drawers has been adorned with elegant Regency-inspired curios – such as a creamware jug, a hand mirror and a cut glass scent bottle – to create a relaxed and feminine scene.
Use antique Georgian furniture to make a statement in an entrance hall
A Georgian occasional table makes a perfect addition to an entrance hall or landing. Not only does it provide a platform for displays of antiques or curios, but also offers a handy space for keys or an address book.
Create a whimsical tableau using vintage books and feather quills
This stack of antique books, topped with a feather quill, is pure Lady Whistledown! A nonchalant display like this atop a Georgian fall-front bureau would be the talk of the ton…
Opt for Regency-style floral wallpapers
Floral wallpaper designs, in muted pastel hues, ooze Regency charm. Find similar heritage designs at Sanderson, Little Greene or Hamilton Weston. You could paper an entire room, create a statement wall or paper the backs of cupboards and drawers.
Choose an antique-style fireplace or fire surround
Along with ornate plasterwork, an elaborate fire surround is the heart of a Regency living space. And this example, with its classical Grecian fan design, shouts Georgian glamour! Find similar pieces at your local salvage yard, or via dealers such as Westland London or Renaissance London.
Arrange old-fashioned British flowers in antique vases and vessels
Nothing says Regency glamour like houses shrouded in tumbling wisteria and ballrooms filled with seasonal flowers. These natural displays are perhaps more modest than those in Bridgerton, but the blooms are just as beautiful…
Host a Regency-inspired tea party for friends and family
What could be more sophisticated than a Regency afternoon tea served on antique china? Hunt-down a complete tea set for a neat feel, or keep things eclectic with mix-matched cups, saucers and serve ware. Gentle Rattle of China has some excellent antique examples, or find new versions of heritage designs via Spode or Wedgwood.
Bridgerton-inspired pieces for your home
From furniture to wallpaper, these contemporary Regency-inspired pieces will help you to embrace the covetable Bridgerton aesthetic in your own home…
Wisteria BP 2217 wallpaper, from £131 per roll, Farrow & Ball
Lille wooden bed frame, from £1,105, Barker & Stonehouse
Monogram wildflower writing set, from £24.99, Papier
Gothica 8-way ceiling light in gold, £90, Iconic lights
BC Designs Elmstead freestanding bath, from £694.35, UK Bathrooms
Magnolia Blossom Jasper bud vase, £85, Wedgwood
Discover why this Neoclassical stoneware is still as collectable now as it was in 1774
The Piper letterbox bouquet, £32, Bloom & Wild
Botticelli round side table, £345, Perch & Parrow
Decorative overmantel mirror, £375, John Lewis & Partners
Words: Sophie Hannam and Kate Macdougall