Gustavian Style

I don’t know what kind of leader King Gustav III of Sweden was, but he really had some design sense!  After spending much of his early life in the French courts of Versailles, Gustav developed a style that was heavily influenced by French Neo-Classical design, as well as Italian Classicism.  Gustavian style is one of my all-time favorites, and I have a heavy dose of it in my own home. 

Gustavian style is marked by grayed pastels, lots of whites and creams, painted furniture, clean simple lines, and fabulous lighting.

This style is rather austere and not overly ornamented.  Lots of leggy furniture, bleached wood, and reflective surfaces/mirrors.

Swedish Country style is Gustavian, but at it’s most informal.  Lots of whites and lots of rustic.

The more formal version of Gustavian features a bit more color, lots of reflective surfaces, and crystal chandeliers.  And gilt, like I blogged about here.

What kind of fabrics, you ask?  Linen, raw silk, and simple checked cotton. With the exception of the occasional light floral, checks are the only patterns used in the Gustavian or Swedish style.

If you want a dose of this style in your own home, a tall Swedish clock goes a long way.  So does an oversized farmhouse table.

I think what appeals to me most about the Gustavian style is the dramatic juxtaposition between the informal and the formal, the comfortable and the refined,  the elegant and the rustic.  And the gorgeous chandeliers, of course!


Photo Credits: Country Living (1,4,7), Vintage Simple Home ,  House Beautiful, Home Companion, Belgian Pearl.


  1. Kifus

    I love Gustavian style. It’s so elegant but has an overall rustic feeling which make the rooms warm and inviting. The photographs you selected are lovely!

  2. Lee

    I love the Swedish style for all of the light, airy colors. I suppose since they spend so much of the year in winter’s dark they like to bring in the light whenever possible. Love your pictures in this post!

  3. kristiebarnett

    Lee, you are right! I’d love to visit the homes and castles of Sweden – but I could never take that cold and dreary climate!

  4. Chelle

    Oh I think I REALLY like the Gustavian style! Just beautiful!

  5. Lloyd Ryder


  6. Mercedes

    Just lovely, thank you for sharing… Gustavian style is one of my very favorite, simple elegance..

  7. Karen Lane

    This is one of my favourite styles and you have shown excellent images to support your post! As a fellow designer I am very impressed with your work.

  8. Daryl Johnson

    Kristie: Thankful for your blog. Your post on Gustavian style and colors inspired me as I rebuilt my house in 2011 after a devastating fire. Today, Dec. 28th, marks the first anniversary of moving my family back in our gorgeous home – all done in pale blues, greens and grays with the occasional deep gray wall. I’ve told lots and lots of people here in New Hampshire about your entertaining and informative blog. Thanks for sharing your engaging thoughts with all!

    • Kristie Barnett

      Wow, I would love to see the colors in your new home. Thank you so much for your words – they are such an encouragement to me!

  9. wide range

    Everyone loves it when folks get together and share views.
    Great website, keep it up!

  10. kl

    Hey there Kristie..I am a Painting Contractor with a New England Historical background, now living in the Southwest…I was struck by your quote:
    “”..No one escapes this life without pain and grief. But beauty and joy is in our midst when we are able to lift our eyes to see it…”
    Without going into too much detail…you’ve inspired me to move on.. to continue to create in spite of the disabling challenge of grief… I am leaving my cushy home, to re-hab a 100 yr. neglected adobe…to transform my grief..and to create once again… As a woman, it kind of reminds me reminds me of the movie.. ‘Under a Tuscan Sun”…
    Blessings dear one!
    [email protected]

    • Kristie Barnett

      Thank you so much for this message – I can think of no better way to work through your grief than to give new life to a neglected historic home – what a blessing YOU will be to this home, this home that has been waiting for someone to recognize its hidden beauty and restore it to life again. Many blessings and peace be to you!!!!!!

  11. Colleen Martin

    Gustavian is my most favorite style as it makes my heart sing. I do like a few Rococo pieces as well. I traveled to Sweden and purchased antiques which I reproduce both Gustavian and Rococo. This is my passion. Please keep posting about Swedish furniture.


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