Styles in furniture - Neogotic

In the first half of the 19th century, architects and designers began to look to older architectural styles for inspiration, and many of these underwent a period of revival. They can be broadly grouped into two main trends, neoclassical and neo-gothic. The Neo-Gothic style is inspired by elements of 12th-century Gothic architecture. It emerged in England around 1840 as a reaction against the neoclassical style adopted at that time by many European countries and dominated the rest of the century until the end.

neo-gothic chamber


Neo-Gothic style in architecture

In architecture, the style caught on immediately, with stone and brick houses being built in the style of 12th century castles and cathedrals. In America, where wood was readily available and could be built more quickly and easily, neo-Gothic-style wooden mansions and cottages appeared. The boom in the woodworking industry, thanks to the advent of steam-powered machines, made it easier to decorate these houses with the characteristic elements of the style.

Many Neo-Gothic buildings were built in Europe and around the world during this period. Among the best known are Westminster Palace in London, whose construction began in 1840, and the Cologne Dome, built between 1842 and 1880.

In our country, too, buildings were built in neo-Gothic style. Cuza's palace at Ruginoasa, which was originally built in neoclassical style, was rebuilt between 1847 and 1855 in neo-gothic style.

Palace of Westminster
Cuza Palace in Ruginoasa


Characteristic elements of the style

The Neo-Gothic style furniture is heavy, intricate, with pointed arches resembling Gothic cathedral windows and heavy carvings. It takes you back to religion because of its resemblance to cathedral furniture.

The wood used is also heavy - walnut, oak, rosewood - and the colours are darker. The legs of the tables and chairs are straight, the roundness disappears. Window arches and cathedral towers are imitated in the design of chairs, beds, cupboards and tables.

Decorations specific to the style appear, namely leaves, arches, rosettes, gargoyles, real or imaginary animals, deformed figures. Specific are the elements arranged like clover leaves, with three leaves, four petals or five arches. The bell with three or four petals and hollow centre is also specific. The designs comprising these elements range from the very simple to the very complicated and busy.

The upholstery is also heavy. A lot of velvet, brocade and leather is used.

The Neo-Gothic style was not very popular because of its rigidity, preciousness and lack of comfort. Chairs looked more like thrones and tables were large and heavy, with sizes that were hard to ignore. In the modern context, the style is important for the strength it exudes, its design and the purity of its geometric shapes.

neo-gothic wardrobe
neo-gothic wardrobe
4 petals mirror detail
items 2
modern Gothic
modern gothic bed


You can discover older or newer styles in the cycle Styles in furniture.

About the author

Mihaela Radu

Mihaela Radu is a chemical engineer but has a great passion for wood. She has been working in the field for more than 20 years, wood finishing being what defined her during this period. She gained experience working in a research institute, in her own company, as well as in a multinational. She wants to continuously share her experience with those who have the same passion - and more.

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