It is a look that can transform a dining room, but introducing Gothic style must be done carefully, says Jamie Hempsall.

As the shops fill with bright orange pumpkins, fake bats and witches’ hats, there can be no doubt that Hallowe’en will soon be upon us. Every year it seems this event is becoming bigger and that the Gothic style is once more beginning to interest the exotic interior creator.

The introduction of Gothic architecture dates back to the Middle Ages and was first seen in religious buildings of the day. It introduced defining characteristics such as stained-glass windows, gargoyles, flying buttresses, tall spires and pointed arches. Fine examples such as Notre Dame in Paris immediately inject an element of awe and wonder –as they were specifically designed to do. These were important buildings and their occupants were clearly identified as powerful people.

However, much of what we associate as Gothic when it comes to interiors actually dates to the Gothic revival movement that gained popularity in the 18th and 19th Centuries, probably reaching its peak at the height of the Victorian Era.  The adoption of this interior style echoed the rising interest in spiritualism, as people began to believe the newly emerging sciences would generate firm proof of the after-life.

Morticia Addams was certainly a devotee of the style, but to adopt it wholesale in the modern interior can be a trifle imposing. However, it is an incredibly interesting theme and to capture elements in your home will certainly create an area of dramatic expression.

Given the nature of this style it really lends itself to rooms that are going to be used in the evening when you might want to create a little home-spun drama. Gothic can be the perfect backdrop for a sumptuous dining room or to help create a tempting lair in the master bedroom.

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To achieve true Gothic Revivalist impact your colour palate wants to be incredibly rich, using strong hues such as violet, emerald green and crimson. These deep tones create immediate impact and hint at the underlying romantic passions that the Victorians associated with the Gothic Literary Genre.

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Black holds a strong place in any Gothic scheme, but should be used carefully as a backdrop in detailing or in more solid structures. The juxtaposition of a black structure highlights the rich element of the key tones and shades.

It is not a style to be undertaken in a half-hearted fashion, so fabrics should be heavy and opulent, after all your average vampire needs to block out that glaring sunlight. To create the perfect effect use strong velvets or heavy brocades, which drape beautifully when made up into full curtains and reflect artificial light to good effect. Hang your curtains from wrought iron rods with flambeau finials and use long tassel tiebacks with gold accents to hold back the drapes for the finishing touch.

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Lighting should be dramatic and flattering; this is where wrought iron and low wattage bulbs come into their own. Keep shades simple and in a single colour, preferably in a thick material or with a gold card lining that will give a dim, but none the less useful light.

The body of the lamp should ideally be an intricate wrought iron structure with a strong nod to the Medieval. Alternatively, opt for large candle sticks capable of holding generous sized church style candles – perfect to create a warm & flattering light to brighten even the palest of skin (or to read a horror story by).

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If you are looking to inject a touch of Gothic furniture, then you want something heavy in solid, dark wood or wrought iron. Seek out antique shop finds with dramatic carvings and claw feet or go ultra-modern and invest in some of the new black designer pieces with mouldings that are simply to die for!

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Jamie Hempsall Triumphs for Third Year in a Row

Jamie Hempsall, has won a coveted Best Interior Design Award at the prestigious UK Property Awards for the third year in a row.

Jamie Hempsall and Richard Bond received the award for Best Residential Interior Design for the East Midlands, along with Mel and Martin Holliday of bespoke kitchen and furniture company Chiselwood Ltd who partnered with them on the project, which entailed the refurbishment of an entire Tudor Manor House.

The quartet attended the awards ceremony at the London Marriott Hotel Grosvenor Square on Friday 12 October where the very best developments, architecture and interior design from across the entire United Kingdom were celebrated.


Jamie Hempsall is a multi award-winning interior designer.