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Design Focus: Classical Style

Classical​ ​civilizations,​ ​originating​ ​from​ ​ancient​ ​Greece​ ​and​ ​Rome set​ ​the​ ​foundation​ ​for​ ​Western​ ​aesthetics.​ ​This​ ​has​ ​defined​ ​our​ ​tastes​ ​in​ ​music,​ ​art​ ​and architecture​ ​to​ ​this​ ​day.​ Canada ​is​ ​certainly no​ ​exception. Classical​ ​style​ ​influences​ ​many​ ​of​ ​the​ ​previous​ ​featured​ ​styles.​ T​​he​ ​Colonial​ ​Revival,​ ​Greek Revival,​ ​Neo​ ​Classical,​ ​Southern​ ​Colonial​ ​styles​ ​are​ ​all​ ​derived​ ​from​ ​Classical​ ​precedents and​ ​use​ ​Classical​ ​features​ ​to​ ​varying​ ​degrees.​ ​​So,​ ​let’s​ ​get​ ​to​ ​know​ ​Classical​ ​architecture​ ​a little​ ​bit​ ​better.

C​lassical​ ​doesn’t​ ​mean​ ​time​ ​warp.​ ​​Its​ ​legacy​ ​lies​ ​in​ ​its​ ​aesthetic/ornate​ ​value​ ​and​ ​defined​ ​by its​ ​​symmetry​ ​and​ ​rational​ ​order.​ ​Add​ ​the​ ​boldness,​ ​grandeur​ ​of​ ​this​ ​style​ ​and​ ​it​ ​is​ ​no​ ​mystery why​ ​the​ ​classic​ ​feel​ ​still​ ​dominates​ ​the​ ​architectural​ ​world.​ ​Columns,​ ​pediments​ ​and ornament​ ​such​ ​as​ ​egg-and-dart​ ​moulding​ ​are​ ​iconic​ ​features​ ​of​ ​classic​ ​designs.​ ​Unlike​ ​some modern​ ​styles,​ ​every​ ​classic​ ​feature​ ​is​ ​functional​ ​and​ ​thought​ ​out.​ T​​he​ ​fluting​ ​of​ ​the​ ​columns, for​ ​instance,​ ​affords​ ​grace​ ​and​ ​vibration​ ​to​ ​the​ ​otherwise​ ​solid​ ​shafts.

Whatever​ ​the​ ​ingredients​ ​of​ ​Greek​ ​building​ ​design,​ ​Western​ ​architects​ ​have​ ​tried​ ​for centuries​ ​to​ ​emulate​ ​the​ ​finished​ ​product.​ ​The​ ​product​ ​has​ ​inspired​ ​many​ ​styles​, but​ ​what​ ​was​ ​its​ ​inspiration,​ ​how​ ​can​ ​you​ ​identify​ ​it​ ​and​ ​how​ ​can​ ​you​ ​mirror​ ​it​ ​in​ ​your​ ​home?


Architecture​ ​was​ ​one​ ​of​ ​the​ ​most​ ​important​ ​arts​ ​to​ ​Classical​ ​civilizations.​ ​​​Ancient​ ​art​ ​is​ ​more times​ ​held​ ​in​ ​high​ ​regard​ ​and​ ​​ ​“classic”​ ​is​ ​sometimes​ ​used​ ​to​ ​mean​ ​that​ ​the​ ​example​ ​is​ ​the best​ ​of​ ​its​ ​type​ ​(ie:​ ​a​ ​classical​ ​example​ ​of​ ​a​ ​cottage).​ ​ ​​​​Although​ ​classical​ ​styles​ ​of architecture​ ​can​ ​vary​ ​greatly,​ ​they​ ​can​ ​in​ ​general​ ​all​ ​be​ ​said​ ​to​ ​draw​ ​on​ ​a​ ​common​ ​source​ ​of decorative​ ​and​ ​constructive​ ​elements.

From​ ​the​ ​​Renaissance​ ​to​ ​Modernism,​ ​classicism​ ​covers​ ​a​ ​broad​ ​range​ ​of​ ​styles.​ ​Having​ ​gone through​ ​many​ ​waves​ ​the​ ​style​ ​affords​ ​many​ ​elements​ ​to​ ​choose​ ​from.​ ​However​​ ​​restraint, symmetry,​ ​sophistication​ ​and​ ​appeal​ ​to​ ​antiquity​ ​should​ ​be​ ​observed​ ​to​ ​maintain​ ​the​ ​classic aesthetic.

The​ ​Greek​ ​and​ ​Roman​ ​influence​ ​provided​ ​the​ ​foundation​ ​for​ ​the​ ​classical​ ​architectural orders​ ​which​ ​would​ ​dominate​ ​the​ ​western​ ​world​ ​from​ ​the​ ​Renaissance​ ​to​ ​the​ ​present​ ​day. An​ ​architectural​ ​order​ ​describes​ ​a​ ​style​ ​of​ ​building​ ​mainly​ ​based​ ​on​ ​column​ ​design.​ ​The classic​ ​dominant​ ​orders​ ​​Doric​,​ ​​Ionic​ a​​nd​ ​​Corinthian​​ ​were​ ​categorized​ ​by​ ​their​ ​use​ ​of​ ​varying styles​ ​of​ ​stone​ ​columns​ ​throughout​ ​different​ ​time​ ​periods.​ ​These​ ​orders​ ​became​ ​the​ ​basic language​ ​of​ ​western​ ​architecture.

In​ ​modern​ ​times,​ ​classicism​ ​surged​ ​forward​ ​in​ ​France​ ​from​ ​the​ ​17th​ ​century​ ​onwards​ ​and quickly​ ​spread​ ​throughout​ ​Europe​ ​to​ ​become​ ​the​ ​dominant​ ​style​ ​for​ ​more​ ​than​ ​two​ ​centuries. Despite​ ​the​ ​strict​ ​rules,​ ​classicism​ ​manifested​ ​in​ ​different​ ​countries​ ​in​ ​its​ ​own​ ​way.​ ​In​ ​France the​ ​interior​ ​design​ ​was​ ​full​ ​of​ ​splendour​ ​and​ ​lustre,​ ​in​ ​England​ ​classicism​ ​was​ ​featured​ ​by rationalism​ ​and​ ​rigour.​ Heavily​ ​influenced​ ​by​ ​the​ ​British​ ​and​ ​French,​ ​NeoClassic​ ​styles dominated​ ​across​ ​Canada​ ​mainly​ ​for​ ​public​ ​and​ ​state​ ​buildings.


Classic​ ​designs​ ​will​ ​include​ ​certain​ ​features​ ​in​ ​order​ ​for​ ​it​ ​to​ ​be​ ​classified​ ​as​ ​Classic.

  • All​ ​materials​ ​are​ ​natural​ ​or​ ​unique​ ​and​ ​therefore​ ​usually​ ​expensive.​ ​Columns​ ​and pilasters​ ​are​ ​usually​ ​made​ ​of​ ​marble,​ ​the​ ​walls​ ​are​ ​often​ ​covered​ ​with​ ​cloth​ ​or panelled​ ​with​ ​natural​ ​wood.​ ​Flooring​ ​uses​ ​parquet​ ​and​ ​the​ ​ceiling​ ​a​ ​classic​ ​style​ ​white and​ ​decorated​ ​with​ ​stucco​ ​friezes. Stone and brick, used as accents, are locally sourced.
  • The​ ​colour​ ​scheme​ ​is​ ​maintained​ ​in​ ​light​ ​pastel​ ​colours.​ ​Shades​ ​are​ ​calm​ ​and​ ​neutral making​ ​the​ ​overall​ ​classical​ ​interior​ ​atmosphere​ ​soothing.
  • Chandeliers​ ​and​ ​extravagant​ ​lighting​ ​fixtures​ are​ ​usually​ ​present.​ ​These​ ​are​ ​normally crystal​ ​made​ ​of​ ​transparent​ ​stones​ ​or​ ​expensive​ ​glass.
  • Classical​ ​oak​ ​ornaments​ ​which​ ​are​ ​always​ ​functional​ ​and​ ​comfortable.​ ​The​ ​often wooden​ ​furniture​ ​is​ ​varnished​ ​and​ ​gives​ ​the​ ​interior​ ​an​ ​airy​ ​feel.
  • Overall,​ ​classic​ ​design​ ​implies​ ​the​ ​presence​ ​of​ ​arches,​ ​stucco,​ ​half-columns​ ​and columns.


Neo-classicism​ ​is​ ​a​ ​style​ ​that​ ​emerged​ ​in​ ​Britain​ ​and​ ​France​ ​in​ ​the​ ​1750s.​ ​The​ ​style​ ​was based​ ​on​ ​the​ ​designs​ ​of​ ​Classical​ ​Greece​ ​and​ ​Rome​ ​and​ ​used​ w​​idely​ ​in​ ​institutional​ ​settings like​ ​universities​ ​and​ ​government​ ​structures.​ ​It​ ​is​ ​used​ ​in​ ​residential​ ​buildings​ ​as​ ​well. Examples​ ​of​ ​this​ ​style​ ​home​ ​can​ ​be​ ​found​ ​throughout​ ​the​ ​country,​ ​with​ ​the​ ​heaviest concentration​ ​along​ ​the​ ​East​ ​Coast.​ ​These​ ​homes​ ​were​ ​built​ ​as​ ​a​ ​reflection​ ​of​ ​where​ ​you were​ ​in​ ​the​ ​class​ ​system.​ ​Their​ ​formality​ ​and​ ​importance​ ​seemed​ ​to​ ​suggest​ ​an​ ​upwardly mobile​ ​lifestyle,​ ​a​ ​way​ ​to​ ​emulate​ ​the​ ​upper​ ​classes​ ​of​ ​Europe.

Neoclassical​ ​buildings​ ​have​ ​some​ ​distinctive​ ​features​ ​of​ ​clean​ ​elegant​ ​lines,​ ​uncluttered appearance​ ​and​ ​free​ ​standing​ ​columns.​ ​Form​ ​and​ ​balance​ ​dominates​ ​the​ ​neoclassical​ ​style. Elaborate​ ​doorways,​ ​evenly​ ​spaced​ ​windows​ ​and​ ​tall​ ​columns​ ​emphasize​ ​its​ ​graphical elements​ ​and​ ​geometric​ ​patterns.


In​ ​Canada,​ ​Neoclassicism​ ​became​ ​popular​ ​from​ ​the​ ​1820s​ ​to​ ​1860.​ ​Much​ ​of​ ​the neoclassical​ ​buildings​ ​can​ ​be​ ​found​ ​mostly​ ​on​ ​the​ ​eastern​ ​side​ ​of​ ​Canada​ ​as​ ​their​ ​was​ ​a tremendous​ ​population​ ​growth​ ​during​ ​that​ ​time.​ ​This​ ​contributed​ ​to​ ​the​ ​need​ ​for​ ​moreinfrastructural​ ​development​ ​and​ ​the​ ​classic​ ​revival​ ​styles​ ​were​ ​highly​ ​influential​ ​at​ ​the​ ​time.  Although​ ​not​ ​as​ ​popular​ ​for​ ​residential​ ​homes,​ ​NeoClassical​ ​domestic​ ​buildings​ ​are​ ​similar​ ​to public​ ​buildings.​ ​The​ ​Robert​ ​Adam​ ​inspired​ ​Adamesque​ NeoClassicism​ ​gave​ ​rise​ ​to​ ​the​ ​style in​ ​private​ ​homes.​ ​They​ ​were​ ​normally​ ​​​built​ ​of​ ​stone​ ​either​ ​as​ ​freestanding​ ​single​ ​homes​ ​or as​ ​town​ ​houses,​ ​in​ ​or​ ​near​ ​urban​ ​centres.


NeoClassical​ ​designs​ ​continues​ ​to​ ​persevere​ ​throughout​ ​the​ ​twentieth​ ​and​ ​twenty-first centuries.​ ​Thanks​ ​to​ ​modern​ ​technology​ ​and​ ease​ ​of​ ​access​ ​to​ ​the​ ​resources​ ​necessary,​ ​it​ ​is manageable​ ​to​ ​emulate​ ​the​ ​style​ ​in​ ​your​ ​own​ ​home​ ​without​ ​breaking​ ​the​ ​bank​ ​or​ ​your​ ​back!  For​ ​the​ ​classic​ ​feel,​ ​you​ ​can​ ​choose​ ​a​ ​combination​ ​of​ ​stone​ ​and​ ​stucco​ ​to​ ​enhance​ ​the exterior.​ ​The​ ​convenience​ ​of​ ​contemporary​ ​materials​ ​like​ ​lightweight Cultured​ ​Stone®​ ​or ProStone® ​makes​ ​it​ ​easier​ ​to​ ​create​ ​the​ ​right​ ​look​ ​and​ ​texture.

Even​ ​though​ ​the​ ​perception​ ​of​ ​Classicism​ ​denotes​ ​expense​ ​and​ ​labour​ ​intensive,​ ​modern building​ ​materials​ ​are​ ​making​ ​it​ ​possible​ ​for​ ​everyone​ ​to​ ​build​ ​or​ ​renovate​ ​a​ ​Classic​ ​style home.​ ​This​ ​ancient​ ​design​ ​has​ ​evolved​ ​so​ ​much​ ​over​ ​the​ ​centuries​ ​and​ ​has​ ​given​ ​room​ ​for much​ ​experimentation.​ ​Instead​ ​of​ ​duplicating​ ​the​ ​style,​ ​take​ ​advantage​ ​of​ ​the​ ​variety​ ​of materials​ ​that​ ​will​ ​help​ ​make​ ​your​ ​classic​ ​style​ ​home​ ​feel​ ​authentic.


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