The Regency period covers the span of time when George IV was Prince Regent, roughly the first 30 years of the 19th Century and is typified by the elegant white stucco buildings of the architect John Nash.
The sweeping terraces and crescents surrounding Regent’s Park in London and many of the buildings in Brighton and Cheltenham are the most notable examples of Regency architecture, but you don’t have to live in an imposing classical building to add a touch of Regency style to your home.
The interior decoration of the period was characterised by a refined glamour and the use of moulded plasterwork to add decorative touches was the key. Popular features such as ceiling roses and cornices took their inspiration from ancient Greece as well as Rome, Egypt and France. Sculptural friezes found on buildings in ancient Greece and Rome were the basis for a number of decorative motifs and were replicated across many objects.
Plaster ceiling roses were traditionally used to protect the ceiling from potential damage from candles and gas which were used for lighting in the Regency and Victorian eras. Subsequently they then served the purpose of hiding the electrical wiring, but this practical function was often made to stand out and be an eye-catching feature. They come in a wide variety of styles from understated and simple, to large and ornate and can be a real focal point.
Meaning ‘ledge’ in Italian, a cornice refers to a horizontal moulding, which is used decoratively at the point where the walls meet the ceiling. Like the ceiling rose there is a functional aspect in their use to cover up any imperfections in the plasterwork underneath and they can even be a feature on the exterior of larger buildings, serving the purpose of directing the rainwater away from the walls. When used in interior design they give a craftsman’s flourish to an otherwise ignored part of a room.
Not as commonly used as ceiling roses and cornices, the corbel again serves a functional role in giving structural support to an arch or a cornice. Historically these were often carved at the end of wooden structural beams, but in the Regency period and beyond they were generally utilised in a more decorative way, giving the sense of solidity and strength.
The Regency period, just like the Georgian era that came before and the Victorian era which followed, retains an enduring appeal today. Fashions come and go, but style remains timeless, and whether you are looking to restore or refurbish worn, broken or damaged mouldings or simply seeking to inject a touch of class to a modern interior then choosing specialist plasterwork mouldings could be just the thing for you.
These decorative touches are not the preserve of grand country estates they can be tailored to individual tastes and budgets and can transform your interior with a minimum of effort. Regency plaster can quickly turn a bland, modern home into something stylish that will be the talking point of the street.
Chloe Cotton is editor-in-chief at The Happiest Homes, a leading UK digital home magazine.