Empire Style Interior Design Ideas and Photos of the best interiors for your inspiration

By | November 17, 2022

The style appeared in the heyday of Napoleon Bonaparte’s empire, so it is all saturated with a demonstration of power. The Empire style in the interior reflects strength and triumph, manifested in pomp, luxury and grandeur of every detail. Let’s analyze the basic principles of the spectacular design direction.

Style History

Empire came to replace the gentle and refined Rococo on the eve of the French Revolution. Instead of the sophistication of the style popular under Louis XVI, pathos and pomposity came into fashion.

Empire style in the interior.

The heyday of the Empire came at the beginning of the reign of Napoleon Bonaparte in 1804. The style enhanced the sense of the emperor’s power and the greatness of the growing empire. He personified heroism in all its manifestations, destroying the culture of classical forms of previous styles.

Empire style furniture in the living room.

The Empire style is characterized by cornices, antique forms, columns, capitals and friezes – decorative ribbons or horizontal stripes framing an architectural structure. Upholstered furniture was completely devoid of sagging upholstered upholstery and visually seemed rigid. When finishing it, no special techniques were used, the texture and texture of the material were more important. Sometimes furniture was painted white and varnished, shaded with gilded overlays or carvings.

The Empire style, which originated under Napoleon, did not become something completely new and fresh for the world. Rather, he changed his view of the already existing classics and subordinated it to the dictator’s will. And Bonaparte wanted splendor, triumph, domination over the world. That is why in the Empire style there are features of Ancient Rome – a model of statehood. Emphasizing the glory of the emperor, Triumphal arches and columns were installed.

The theatricality of the style dictates the design of the room certain conditions for the organization of space. So the furniture was placed around the perimeter, leaving a free space in the center. Therefore, horizontal forms prevail in the Empire style. The decor was also placed around the perimeter to emphasize the beauty of the wood texture.

At the dawn of the popularity of the “Napoleonic” Empire style, sofas with blind armrests came into fashion. The decorations were images of swans and eagles, war trophies. And the legs were made in the form of animal paws or sphinxes.

The interior of the office in the Empire style.

Often, a whole set was placed in the premises, and not one of its items. The bright upholstery of upholstered furniture necessarily harmonized with the shades of the entire interior. The French appreciated deep colors in the palette: purple, bordeaux, blue, green, crimson and their combinations with gold.

Living room.

Under Napoleon, sofa rooms became popular. Several armchairs and sofas were installed in them, and a table was placed in the middle on the carpet. Today, a similar function is performed by the living room.

Empire style is inspired by the art of ancient civilizations – Egypt, Rome, Greece. Hence the popularity of military emblems, laurel leaves, lion paws and sphinxes.

In the Empire style, strict poise, correctness of construction and massive columns were used. Military emblems, Roman laurel wreaths and trophies, as well as lions were widely used in the decor. Its exoticism gave the whole atmosphere a certain theatrical gloss.

Empire style interior design.

The walls were covered with wallpaper with a strict pattern, picturesque landscapes and subjects on the theme of Napoleon’s campaigns, or were covered with draped fabrics. They were often decorated with semi-columns, pilasters, and often paintings, putting them directly on the wall or special panels.


The floors were decorated with parquet with an antique pattern. In some rooms they were laid out with mosaics.

The ceiling was painted white and separated from the walls by cornices, decorating them with figures of Egyptian sphinxes or swans. Imitating Ancient Rome, Empire-style ceilings were made coffered – with many cells and beams decorated with various ornaments.

Features of the Empire style in interiors

Empire style is designed for large rooms with high ceilings and huge windows.

Empire interior design originated during the Napoleonic conquests, so it absorbed the best features of different styles and peoples.

Living room.

Let’s highlight 9 main features by which it is easy to find out the design direction:

  1. Ray composition. All the objects of the room are arranged symmetrically. There is a central point in the room around which the interior is built.
  2. A lot of expensive decor. Jewelry made of gold (gilding), bronze and silver, porcelain and platinum are used in the design.
  3. Antique ornaments. Appropriate Greek, Roman and Egyptian motifs symbolizing victory. The interior features images of eagles and sphinxes, laurel wreaths, lotuses and pyramids.
  4. State and military symbols. The Empire style should emphasize the owner’s belonging to power.
  5. Antique architectural elements. Moldings and columns, frescoes and bas-reliefs, arches and pilasters are appropriate in the room.
  6. Massive furniture. Overall interior items made of wood. The upholstery is made of expensive textiles.
  7. Saturated colors. The design uses a limited number of natural shades.
  8. Lots of light. Antique multi-tiered chandeliers are complemented by a variety of lamps around the perimeter of the room.
  9. Free space. To fit all the elements, you need huge spaces with high ceilings and windows.

Luxurious interior design of the living room.

Empire style brings a sense of solemnity and readiness for the holiday to the interior. The room should always be in perfect order. Carelessly placed or scattered things bring dissonance to the design. The design direction will not appeal to those who like to move furniture often. Each item is in its own, clearly fixed place.

Color scheme

Empire style in the interior suggests a limited choice of colors. Initially, white, red and blue were used in the design. Then the palette was slightly expanded, but the number of shades was limited. There is no bright variegation in the design, and all available options have a natural origin.

All elements in the space should emphasize imperial power and luxury, therefore, tones of precious metals are necessarily present. Gold, silver and bronze details form a special feeling of pomp in the room. Metallic shades complement, but do not dominate, although their presence is very bright, noticeable.

Background colors are the base for the interior. When decorating a room in the Empire style, designers use white. The noble, cool tone visually makes the space easier and freer. When finishing ceilings, stairs and walls, the shade is combined with silver or gold.

Light tones in the interior.

There is a lot of red in the interior of the Empire style. A powerful, energetic color is manifested in both bright scarlet and muted wine, rich burgundy or neutral terracotta. A strong gamma brings a touch of luxury to the design. When decorating, it is important not to overdo it with an abundance of purple tones, otherwise the interior will become aggressive.

Red-brown in the interior.

Shades of brown perfectly smoothes the energy of red, so they are often used as a duo. Wood tones are found in furniture and flooring. Beige migrated to the Empire from the classics. The delicate color is not as cold and detached as white, so it is used as a background. Laconic, neutral beige looks harmoniously both in wall decoration and furniture facades, upholstery. The tone extinguishes the aggressiveness of red.

Cold blue fills the interior of the Empire with coolness, tranquility. Dark, saturated shades are most often used in an auxiliary role. Light turquoise and delicate blue are often combined with white and beige.

Blue and brown in the interior of the living room.

The green color gives the interior relief and clarity. This color is suitable for upholstery, draperies and textiles. Dark tones are often used in combination with brown, gold or bronze.

Green color in the interior of the dining room.

Features of Empire style interior design

The Empire-style interior looks expensive and pompous. The space resembles a palace, so there is no room for plastic and chrome-plated metal. Natural wood and precious stone are used in the design, gilding and silver in the details.

Wall decoration

If the room is decorated in the Empire style, then the partitions are covered with wallpaper. Tapestries with a texture repeating silk or brocade will harmoniously fit into the interior.

Silk wallpaper in the interior.

The finishing material for the walls can simulate the interweaving of fibers in the fabric. Partitions are often plastered, then painted or covered with frescoes. If textured putty is used, then preference is given to types that repeat the texture of the fabric.

Empire style interior design.

Ceiling finishing

When you design the ceiling, you can see a clear geometry. A perfectly flat space is painted with paint (under whitewash). To match the Empire style, the interior uses overhead molding and zoning of the central part.

Luxurious ceiling in the living room.

If a tension structure is installed in the room, then a multi-tiered complex model is needed.

Living room.

Floor in Empire style interiors

In the Empire room, the floor is a work of art, so there are practically no carpets. The floor covering in residential premises is a luxurious parquet made of natural wood, the surface of which is decorated with a complex ornament (mosaic). When making, monotony is avoided, therefore, raw materials of different colors are combined.

Beautiful floor in the interior of the office.

Marble or expensive stone tiles are used in the bathroom and kitchen. The finishing material is laid out according to the scheme, not forgetting to maintain the center of the composition. The design combines different colors, avoiding monotony.

Tile on the floor in the bathroom.


Empire-style furniture should be expensive. There is no place for modular models with simple facades or interior items from different sets. All elements have the same design, so they look like a single composition with the whole design.

Living room.

The rooms have furniture sets consisting of many separate parts. Furniture in color and structure is combined with the decoration of the room, so it harmoniously fits into a complex design. Lacquered and matt surfaces, glass and crystal get along well in the interior.

Living room.

Empire furniture is arranged on the basic principles of style. Tables, chairs, and cabinets have legs made in the form of paws of mythical animals. The facades are decorated with carved patterns. Floral ornaments are repeated on the handles. The fittings are made of metal under bronze, so it is massive.


There are no sharp corners and sharp transitions in the Empire style. Smooth lines are visible in the structure of all interior items. Upholstered furniture must have pillows or armrests-bolsters. Facades, housings and countertops were made of wood of the same breed. In the design, varnishing is often used, which is combined with enamel and mosaic.

The interior of the Empire necessarily has double-leaf cabinets. The structures consist of a glazed display case (for crystal, porcelain) and hidden storage systems for things. The doors are arched, large in the center and narrow on the sides. Lockers in the room are used in pairs, installed in parallel or opposite each other.

Display cabinets.

There are many beautiful chairs in the Empire style design. Luxurious furniture often resembles a royal throne in structure.

The design contains:

  • carving;
  • gilding;
  • soft upholstery;
  • pillows;
  • armrests.

In the Empire interior, low tables on one thick leg are appropriate. For stability, the leg was supplemented with supports in the form of mythical animals or columns.

Empire style beds are distinguished by royal luxury. A huge bed occupies the central part of the room, with a banquette at the feet. The sleeping people are protected by a canopy, which can sometimes be replaced with an openwork headboard. Bedside tables are appropriate in the interior. If the size of the room allows, then a boudoir composition is placed in the balcony area.


Textiles and decor

There are a lot of textiles in the Empire interior. The length of the curtains is in the floor. To drape curtains well, they are made of dense materials (brocade, velvet). Luxurious, heavy fabrics with lambrequins are tied with braid, tassels or bows. Translucent tulle curtains often complement the floral pattern.


When decorating zones in the Empire interior, short carpets are used. The decorative coating is made of natural wool or silk. A beautiful geometric ornament echoes the design of the room and furniture upholstery. There is a lot of decor in the Empire interior.

On tables, shelves and in special niches-arches there are vases, figures in antique style and busts of generals. A huge grandfather clock or an antique globe bar will become the central element of the composition.

On tables and stands – bouquets of cut flowers of noble varieties:

  • roses;
  • pions;
  • chrysanthemums;
  • dahlias.

There are no free (idle) walls in the Empire design. There are a lot of large paintings in gilded frames on the partitions. Instead of portable works of art, frescoes and mosaics with scenes from ancient myths are appropriate in the bathroom.


In the cabinets behind the glass doors, it is worth placing books with gilded spines. A folding screen, resembling a door in design, will help to divide the huge space. Chests and caskets are combined with bronze fruit baskets and silver candy boxes.

The Empire interior should not be overloaded with unnecessary details. An abundance of small decor are out of place here.

In the Empire room, plumbing elements will become a decoration. Curved antique faucets are appropriate in the interior. The cast-iron radiator, painted with bronze paint, looks luxurious. Ordinary, flat batteries can be hidden under a decorative screen, stylized as a casting.


There are many mirrors in the Empire style interior, often the shape of the structures echoes the structure of window and door openings. The huge glass is complemented by massive gilded frames resembling antique baguettes of paintings. In the interior, you can use live plants.

Large plant species are installed in the rooms. Orange or lemon tree will harmoniously fit into the design of the bedroom. In the living room it is better to arrange focuses or palm trees. All elements are placed in pairs, maintaining symmetry and centering.

Lighting design

To create a comfortable environment, several light sources are needed – natural (windows) and artificial (illumination).


Multi-level lighting is used in modern space. The central place in the room is occupied by the main chandelier. Spot lighting is installed along the perimeter of the ceiling.

Lighting should cover the entire space of the room. Sconces with elegant lampshades are appropriate on the walls, floor lamps with fabric hoods in the corners, table lamps on the furniture. Electric lamps with imitation candlesticks or torches will harmoniously fit into the interior. All niches, shelves and recesses are necessarily complemented with LED lighting.

Living room.

Empire is a luxurious, domineering and expensive style in design, demanding the smallest details. Pomposity and complexity of design are appropriate in large rooms. The interior is suitable for strong, powerful personalities who have huge plans for life.

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