Brooklyn based lifestyle blog by Lauren L Caron

Interior Focus: The Empire Style

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Product Details: Empire Vanity Stool by Charles Hollis Jones,Upholstered X-Bench by Jonathon Adler, Empire X-frame Stool in the style of French Master Cabinet Maker Jacob from Doretheum

My next DIY endeavor will be to re-upholster my Empire style vanity bench. I've been researching other benches in the similar style for inpsiration.  The Empire style is the second phase of Neoclassicism which is an early-19th-century design movement in architecture, furniture, other decorative arts, and the visual arts in Europe and America until around 1830.  This style originated in France from the rule of Napoleon I in the First French Empire.  It was intended to idealize Napoleon's leadership in the French state.  It is important to mention that the two French architects Chales Percier and Pierre Fontaine are attributed to the creators of the French Empire style.  They had studied architecture in Rome and used their education to inspire their designs in furniture and architecture.

Photo Credits: Clockwise - The Napoleon Apartments in the Louvre, The Napoleon Apartments in the Louvre (I'm i the picture to show the scale of that chandelier!, Modern Interior Design by Nate Berkus, photo from Red Papaya origin unknown, Master Bedroom by Brian Watford ID, Interior Design by Scott Snyder.

Classic design elements of the Empire Style that one should look for are symmetry, motifs that are symbolic of power such as torches, Roman eagles, empire wreaths, mythological figures, lions, bees and swans.  Additionally, materials like mahogany wood and gilded bronze are very commonly used.

My bench/stool is a classic example of Empire style furniture with it's symmetrical shape, gilded bronze swan heads and floral appliques.  With this knowledge I could go one of two ways for the upholstery. The first, in a contemporary direction with a modern fabric that would juxtapose the antique style. Or, to upholster the stool in a fabric that is complimentary of the design style by using a fabrication that would be similar to the original.

I've decided to go in the latter direction by purchasing a really beautiful, rich yellow velvet.  At a fair price of $30.oo per yard from Mood Designer Fabrics, this fabric will enhance the stool as well as coordinate with the rest of the textiles and colors within the room. With that said, I have to gather all of the materials and get started with the re-upholstery! Check back soon, for the step-by-step process of this project.

Resources: Wikipedia, The MET museum