Neo Regency is the sweet glass of interiors. It’s a big new look: delicious and addictive. The forecast is for fancy French furniture, marble and inlays, and serious curtains with tassels and moldings. Expect a sugar rush of gilded mirrors and wall paneling (real or faux, depending on your budget), hand-painted chinoiserie wallpaper (definitely faux), and all in an icy palate of citrus green, yellow, orange, pink, and macaroon blue. Remember to brush your teeth.
he term “Neo Regency” was coined by interior oracle Michelle Ogundehin in an article for deceen this March. She described the style as “ridiculously pretty, a word not often used in design circles”. Neo Regency is the exact opposite of the modernist mantra “Form Follows Function”. “Ornament for its own sake is everything,” wrote Ogundehin. The glamorous, decadent style is also called Regencycore or Bridgertoncore. Its main inspiration is the Regency period of 19th century England as filtered through the Netflix TV show of the same name. Based on the romantic novels by modern American novelist Julia Quinn, the first series of Bridgeton was introduced in December 2020. It offered comfort and ease during lockdown. The second series followed and a third is currently in the works.
Bridgeton is set in England during the Regency period (1811-1820) when the eldest son of the disabled King George III. deputy monarch of England. The Prince Regent was culturally informed, economically irresponsible, and tremendously stylish. His reign ushered in a new era of extravagance in fashion, architecture and interior design. It was a doomsday party enjoyed by the upper class against a backdrop of widespread poverty and the ongoing Napoleonic Wars. Ogundehin sees parallels between this time and our own troubled times.
“When the world is in extreme turmoil, creativity blossoms. Anyone who has an artistic temperament, like the Prince Regent, rails against the zeitgeist and pushes it to new places.”
Neo Regency is not a recreation of the historical aesthetic. It’s a modern fantasy. But then again, the Regency style has always been fantastic. Very few people actually attended the upper class balls and tea parties of The Ton, although many heard the stories and caught glimpses of the frivolity and splendour. Again, there are parallels to today’s celebrity culture. It would have been good on TikTok.
Neo Regency is an aesthetic that you can certainly create at home. A little styling will go a long way. The set design team on Bridgeton have already done the work to bring the style up to 21st century speed. In an interview for Architecture Digest, BridgetonWill Hughes-Jones’ production designer detailed how the marble and marquetry effect on the console tables was created by their graphic designer and printed onto vinyl.
Movie sets are full of cheats. They must be because of their size. At home we can go one better. Modern chinoiserie wallpaper or upholstery can be paired with a genuine antique or two. “Everyone talks about the influence of Bridgetonsays Jen Connell, creative director and interior designer. “The drama of the TV series brings the interiors to life. They’re traditional but enhanced with rich colors and so pretty it’s almost surreal. Seeing the characters interact in this context really captures your imagination.”
Connell, who recently moved into a 1780s house in County Limerick, believes the rise of Neo Regency offers a decorative opportunity for people living in historic homes. “It’s really an opportunity to lean into an older style.”
Her most recent addition is a chinoiserie French bomb dresser that she bought from Ashbrook Antiques in County Tipperary. Like all antiques, it’s a one-off, but expect to pay around €1,500 for something similar. “It doesn’t really serve a purpose, but it was just so special that we invested. Originally we had it in the hall but then we moved it to the living room so we could watch it every day. Her other major extravagance was a Regency-style handcrafted bed. “It was such a scary investment – the best I’ve ever paid for anything!” A Palais de Versailles Sacré Coeur king-size bed with a gilded frame and pink velvet cover currently costs €2,670 from the French Bedroom Company. After confessing to these big purchases, Connell admits the giant Chinese-pattern fan above the bed cost €15 at a Dublin flea market. She also keeps an eye on Done Deal where she Downton AbbeyDressing table in style saved her €400. “It justifies the big purchases when you can get a bargain. It’s a massive piece of furniture and all it needed was a polish.”
Neo Regency is about creating a balance between old and new. “Sometimes it’s about a specific piece, but sometimes it’s about creating a mood,” says Connell. “I love the dainty French chairs, but they’re not good for TV. Our sofas are from DFS. One of these is the Halo sofa in caramel leather that ages beautifully. We paired this with a pair of deep buttoned velvet ottomans. The color in her bedroom is Palm House Fountain by Colourtrend, a greenish grey. “It’s green, but not too green. I wanted it to look like it’s always been that color and this shade has that smoky glow that you often get in old homes even though the color is new.”
Meanwhile, across the water, British artist Diane Hill has just launched a collection of chinoiserie wallpaper and furnishing fabrics featuring Harlequin. Excellent timing. The designs reflect the 18th-century appetite for Chinese-style decoration, hand-painted on silk wall coverings. Historically, they have been prohibitively expensive. Now this appetite is reignited by Bridgeton and the Diane Hill x Harlequin range is here to feed them with wallpapers starting at €121 per roll from Wallpaper Direct. It’s nice stuff. The influences and patterns date back to the 18th century, but the palette and scale are modern with enhanced colors and larger motifs that sidestep the fussiness of the period decor. It is a testament to the transformative power of digital production.
– Jen Connell will be at the permanent TSB Ideal Home Show from October 21-23 at the DFS Interior Inspiration Design Center. See also
@jenconnell.home, ashbrookantiques.ie, FrenchBedroomCompany.co.uk, wallpaperdirect.comand dianehill.co.uk
https://www.independent.ie/life/home-garden/interiors/bring-bridgerton-into-your-home-with-the-neo-regency-trend-41972528.html Bring Bridgerton into your home with the Neo Regency trend