With the fall of the former Soviet Union, a whole world that was previously closed has opened up to the west. Russian culture and art is fascinating and very rich, and it has a lot to offer those of us who never lived or grew up there. Let’s take a look at Russian style both old and new.
If you look at pictures of typical Russian interiors, you will notice that the furniture is heavier than western tastes usually dictate and the overall look is somewhat conservative. Traditional Russian décor, dating back to the time of the Russian Empire, includes decorative wallpaper and a lot of velvet and brocade. During the Communist era, life in Russia became more Spartan, however, with several families sharing a single apartment. Now that the Russian economy is once again booming, the country is creating its own design style. Some of it is similar to the old, but some of it has become more reminiscent of the west.
So how can you add some Russian style to your home? Nowadays, most homes in Russia do not look like something out of Dr. Zhivago or the Winter Palace, as they have much more modern furniture. However, certain features appear to have been retained. Many homes will still have a piano in them as art, education, and culture are still a very important part of Russian life, taking high priority. You will also find plenty of ornaments, pictures, and decorations. One would not describe Russian interior design as minimalist, and accessories are clearly very important.
Today, the brocade sofa may well have been replaced by a leather one. The flock wallpaper will not be seen any longer. However, if you want to adopt a Russian look in your living room, you will also include an elegant coffee table (and even a samovar, as many Russians still enjoy drinking tea!) Screens are still a nice addition to a living room, as well as traditional Russian pottery decorations. Don’t forget to add at least one or two traditional Russian dolls to the ornaments that you would include in the room. These dolls, which open down into several dolls of varying sizes that fit together will fascinate your children for hours.
Many Russian homes still have fireplaces, and if you live in a country that doesn’t usually have them you can still get one fitted. Again, the mantelpiece can be filled with examples of traditional Russian art. You may also want to decorate the walls with Russian paintings, which are often very expressive. For example, even during and after the Revolution, posters advertising the merits of hard work were artistic masterpieces more than functional pieces of hard propaganda.
Remember that Russia is a cold country in the winter, and therefore the floor is usually covered in thick carpeting and rugs. For added elegance, choose a beautiful area rug – floral rugs are ideal for a more traditional design, though you may prefer a more modern rug. Though they may no longer be made from red brocade, long thick curtains are still popular as they keep out the cold and draughts.
Remember that Russian style has moved on from the traditional, imperial look. But it has retained its love of beauty, style, and culture, which should be well reflected in your home.