{history of gothic design}

As we approach Halloween, seemingly innocent places and things can get downright spooky. Gateways can creak, shadows are cast from peaked roofs and dry leaves rustling can startle you.

Homes with Gothic design are often featured in scary movies. The archways, columns and buttresses invite the imagination to run wild with stories of what may have happened inside. And just think about those gargoyles!

Eras of Elegance

Gothic architecture actually has its roots in the religious buildings in Europe. In addition to churches, we often see Gothic design in universities, castles and homes.

Kylemore Gothic Church from J. Brian Kelly

Lyndhurst from Eras of Elegance

Gothic architecture is known for its pointed arches on windows and doorways, ribbed vaulting and buttresses.

Flying Buttresses from NPR

Gargoyle Gothica

You’re also likely to see gorgeous, decorative glass windows in a gothic building. Architects in medieval times took advantage of new building techniques that allowed for more slender walls to support those glass details.

Gothic design became more common for homes in the 18th and 19th centuries in what’s known as the Gothic Revival movement.  As in medieval times, new equipment helped spur the movement. New machinery and affordable lumber made it easier for builders to create the detailed trim and carvings that are essential to a Gothic home.

Gothic Revival architecture has many of these features:

  • Pointed windows with decorative tracery
  • Grouped chimneys
  • Pinnacles
  • Battlements and shaped parapets
  • Leaded glass
  • Quatrefoil and clover-shaped windows
  • Oriel windows
  • Asymmetrical floor plan

When you’re translating Gothic Revival architecture on the inside of a home, you need to consider finishes and textures and remember that this is not a design that shies away from drama. Floors are often a hard surface like stone or tile. If you have wood floors, dark stain is the most traditional. Floors are often covered in rich, deep-hued rugs or carpet.

Fun on the Floor

Those rich colors are continued in wall colors. Look for dramatic colors like red, deep eggplant, black or a rich hunter green. Gothic design is a great style for rich, wood paneling and decorative paint treatments to enhance a “castle-like” feel.

The drama can really come out in window treatments and wall coverings. This is the design for sumptuous fabrics and tapestries. Pick velvet as a way to really punch up the drama. Look for large tassels and thick ropes to use as tiebacks.

Top Decorations

In your furniture – the idea is heavy, solid and substantial. Look for turned legs and carved details to accent rich, plush upholstery.  In your accessories, bring in mirrors with ornate frames, wrought iron and statue pieces.


Remember, you’re going for a castle-like feel of opulence and richness.

What are your favorite elements of gothic design? Leave us a comment and let us know!


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