Revival is the name of a period in the nineteenth century where design elements from the past was closely reproduced for modern users. At first, there was a Greek Revival period. However, this revival style was eventually undermined by the Gothic Revival. The Gothic Revival was in part a reaction to the not so practical aspects of the Greek Revival and in part a reaction to banal use of Greek elements. The Gothic Revival was seen as something exotic and different at the time. As seen in Images 1 & 2, this style is characterized by the use of:

  • Pointed arches;
  • High Piched Roof;
  • Quaterfoils;
  • Tall spires;
  • Tracery;
  • Crocket;

Although I can appreciate the intricate work of the Gothic Revival elements, I find this style very busy. The stone exterior is quite nice. But, I find the interior too dark and too ornate. I don’t like how busy the dining room (image 2) looks. I also don’t like the pointy ends of the dining table. Can you imagine seating at the end of that table for diner? Ouch! For me, the Gothic Revival style feels, in general, overwhelming. However, a modern taken on this style can result in a pleasant and interesting design as we can see in Images 3 & 4.

Image 1 Credit: WTTW Chicago Public Media –   Image 2 Credit: ARTSTORE                                                       Lyndhurst Mansion in Tarrytown, N.Y. – 1838

Image 1

Image 2

GOTHIC REVIVAL STYLE – Influencing Today’s Design

Image 3

Image 4

The Gothic Revival style can have its overwhelming details tamed to a more subdued look with today’s interior designers and architects interpretations. Images 3 & 4 are from Paul Buchanan. He is an American designer whose works have often a nod to past styles.

Buchanan’s house (Image 3) has some Gothic Revival elements, such as pointed arches, quaterfoil, spires, and traceries. However it was built to suit the modern living with electrical light fixtures and garage. Furthermore, Buchanan took a modern approach to the Gothic Revival style. The facade is white and simpler than the typical Gothic Revival exteriors. The bedroom (Image 4) also makes references to the Gothic Revival style with pointed arches, stained glass, and traceries. But, it has plain walls and ceiling, and everything basically done in white colour. This makes the room look modern and fresh. Although I don’t usually like rooms done entirely in white, I find it nicely balances the Gothic Revival details and the knotty pine floors. I can see myself having a restful night in this bedroom. Buchanan brings interest into the design by using elements of the Gothic Revival but in controlled and pleasant manner. He makes me appreciate this style in a new modern perspective.

Images Credit: HG McCullough –                  House in Newburgh, IN. – 2002