In Paris and Rome of the seventeenth century, the dwelling-places of the authoritative and wealthy people got to new levels of splendor and dynamism featuring new theatrical and extravagant style known today as Baroque. Everything from building facades to furniture overflowed with carvings of beasts, birds, flowers and fruit. Sophisticated decoration overwhelmed the minds, often along with fantastic works of sculpture and painting.
Domestic Baroque style architecture was dramatic, extravagant, seeking to show off wealth and daze the viewer. While Renaissance design had appealed to the intelligence, the Baroque style worked on the emotions. Even Counter Reformation devout conversions were marvelous visions inspired by generously adorned churches and glitzy devotional art.
If you don't intend to build your personal Versailles, you can create the opulence of Baroque style with a small number of carefully selected pieces and the precise decorative objects. Materials ought to be lavish: silk, velvet, damask, tapestry. Colors ought to be strong and put in bold, noble combinations akin to indigo and gold, purple and ochre. Baroque arts of decorating are tangled and rich: large Chinese flower motives, massive and opulent furniture, carved and decorated geometric designs, wood tessellated with ebony, gold, or mother of pearl.
Essential Elements of Baroque Style:
Furniture: Chairs should be carved, painted, gilded, inlaid -- anything will make them extravagant and ornate. An oak armoire, beveled-glass mirrors and bed hangings in the bedroom. In the dining and living rooms there should be intensively carved built-in cupboards and an oak buffet, wide and low dining chairs with legs crossed, and velvet upholstery to a throne-like feeling.
Floors: Inlaid wooden floors with complex patterns are characteristic of this period. Also will do excellent black and white surface in squares or diamonds, Persian rugs, rush mats, stone floors, above all with a highlighted geometric pattern.
Walls: Paneling was regularly painted in geometric contours. Walls featured lavish figural or floral paintings or carvings, gilding, faux tortoiseshell or marble. Cornices and moldings, however, were unadorned. Tapestries - tooled or gilded leather, painted fabric, damask, velvet - go far in reproducing this style.
Windows: Full, theatrical draperies, with silver and gold embroidery or tassels were typical of the time. Flower-patterned designs, harmonized with the upholstery, are fairly genuine. Door and window latches were extensively used during the period.
Lighting: Baroque style houses were lit with candles, wood, solid brass, mirrored sconces or pewter candlesticks. Large chandeliers are also suitable.
Decorative objects: Chinoiserie is the principal type of decoration: Chinese snuff bottles, lacquer ware, fans, porcelain. Other authentic elements of the style are white and blue Delftware, small sculpture, gilded frames, and busts.
O-k, so maybe you can't find a lot of these items lying around your house. But you probably find them at garage sales or antique dealers. Bargain for the best deal and you'll be surprised at what you come up with!