Why fall in love with the Directoire and Empire Style Furniture?

Why fall in love with the Directoire and Empire Style Furniture?

May 27th 2024

Vintage and certain period-specific decor and furniture have survived the test of time because of their versatile design that transcends eras. Directoire and Empire-style furniture are a few such statement designs with this timeless appeal. Their versatile yet regal appearance makes them suitable for different types of households, especially if you are inclined towards ornate yet sophisticated designs.

Ornate Antique Gilt Mirror

At Eloquence, we specialize in upscaling unique antique pieces to blend perfectly into a modern-day home. If you aim for a luxurious feel, nothing beats the Empire and Directoire style in design, durability, and overall value.

Let us explore the factors that make these vintage pieces withstand the trials of time and remain trendy even today.

What is Directoire Style?

The Directoire style from 1789-1804 is characterized by its Neoclassical architectural elements, limited use of carving, flat surfaces covered with richly grained veneers, and ornamental painted details. This era witnessed condemnation of anything opulent and symbolic of the aristocratic power. The economic situation was turbulent, too. Together, they gave rise to designs that paved the way for the Empire style but were less sumptuous and grand.

The curule seat, a symbol of authority in ancient Rome, became a defining feature of this period. The furniture was typically elegant and delicate but often small in scale. It maintained the structural elements of the Louis XVI style but showed limited variation in its expression. The Directoire style embraced clean contours, straight lines, simple curves, flat surfaces, and right angles, with lines that emphasized geometric shapes drawn from ancient inspirations.

Characteristics of Directoire Style Furniture

The simple, cost-efficient design makes this style relevant even today. Here's what characterizes this furniture style:

Austere and Simple Design

The furniture displays a slender structure with classic motifs. Often, simple and small designs of urns, swans, tureens, and winged lions are seen on Directoire furniture. The pieces are painted, and shapes like square and rectangular dominate the designs.

Geometric and clean shapes

Belrose Mirror in Gold Luster Finish

Tapered or straight legs and clean lines rather than ornate and complex curves set the Directoire furniture apart. This makes them appear elegant and timelessly versatile, blending well with any interior design. The gaudiness and extravagance of ornamentation that was the signature of Louis XVI's era are not found in this furniture.

Classic and superior materials

Though the materials used for Directoire furniture were considered economical and less luxurious during its inception, they resonate with luxury and opulence today. Wooden furniture has a better resale value than contemporary materials, regardless of the wood type. Moreover, more luxurious and expensive varieties of Directoire furniture are made of the best materials like Mahogany, Ebony, and so on.

What is Empire Style?

The Empire-style furniture originated during Napoleon's time, inspired by the French's love for luxury and motifs of imperial Rome. The furniture had a similar clean and geometrically symmetrical design of the Directoire style and was decorated with Egyptian-style gilt bronze or ormolu mounts. Motifs like sphinxs, swans, eagles, and griffins were commonly witnessed on this furniture. Mahogany, Bird's eye Maple, and Walnut wood were used for the foundation, and the furniture had thick upholstery.

Characteristics of Empire-Style Furniture

One can say the Empire style is a significantly more ornate version of the Directoire style but is characterized by certain striking design elements:

Artistic feet - C-shaped, Dowel-shaped, and brackets

Furniture legs feature delicate and unique carving styles like C-shaped, short, and stout. Bracket feet is another notable style that is short. The turned dowel feet are another popular element of such furniture. Chairs often feature saber-like legs and armrests and are upholstered for comfort.

Curved front

The curved front that extends elegantly from the main body of the furniture is another distinguishing feature of this furniture. The result is a statement piece that can dictate the room's overall layout and become the central attraction.

Large Drawers

The boxy and large drawers with ornamental knobs not just add to the aesthetic appeal but is a functional storage solution. The amalgamation of style and functionality makes the Empire style a relevant choice for modern households with limited space.

Boxy and Heavy-weight body

The painted, wooden body is heavy and durable, making these furniture pieces an asset for future generations. The timeless appeal and durability also add to their resale value in the long run.

Why invest in Vintage Luxury Furniture?

Vintage luxury furniture exudes sophistication and status. The antique designs add a touch of royalty to your home while being an appreciating asset, enhancing your home's overall value. Especially timeless styles like Directoire and Empire can make your home look trendy and yet right out of a history book, making them so well-loved by interior designers and homeowners.

Painted Directoire Paravent

Timeless structure

The clean and straight lines, minimal ornamentation, and gilded and painted designs make these furniture statement pieces that accentuate the interior design. Even modern-day condos or homes will find these furniture styles complementary to the contemporary appliances, gadgets, and other items defining a 21st-century home.

Durable and heavy-duty design

Furniture made with hardwood like mahogany and even comparatively softer woods like Beech, Maple, and Elm are assets for a lifetime. They do not get damaged easily and look timeless, making them worth the investment.

Versatile and compatible

Nothing beats the elegance of classic furniture styles. Irrespective of the interior, they can easily fit in as accent furniture or statement pieces, elevating the overall appearance. Wood furniture embraces elements like metal or fiber, making it versatile.

Better ROI

The resale value of wooden furniture is much higher, especially if it is vintage and antique styles like Directoire and Empire, which remain popular even today. Thus, it adds to the home's overall value and reflects the homeowner's taste.

How to Determine the Better Choice For Your Home?

Though Directoire and Empire-style furniture display similar features and motifs, specific differences make choosing the right style for your home challenging. Here are a few criteria to consider and find the suitable style:

Consider the interior style

The furniture must complement the existing interior design well. Do you have a muted and toned-down appearance and wish to give it a facelift? But want to avoid too much bling? The Directoire style furniture is more suitable in such a scenario. On the other hand, if metal sheen and fuller statement styles are what you are looking for, the Empire style works better.

Upkeep and Maintenance

The ease of maintenance is another crucial factor. Note that the simpler the design, the easier it will be to clean and dust. If you cannot clean the furniture often, a more straightforward style with a clean geometric shape, like Directoire, is the better choice.

Resale Value

The resale value depends on the product's built quality, history, and design. If the furniture has a timeless classic design, it will always fetch a significant resale value in the long run. Hardwood furniture gets even more valuable with time. Thus, not compromising while shopping will go a long way in the future.

Color scheme

Take note of the color scheme of the home before buying any furniture. Also, think about whether you wish to combine or contrast the shades. Stick to a smaller palette to avoid overwhelming the viewer. If your Directoire or Empire-style furniture is a statement piece, coordinate the colors around the room based on the furniture.

Accent and compatibility

Do not shop just because it looks attractive in the store. Take time and deliberate about its feasibility and whether the furniture would complement the space you wish to set it.


Last but not least is the budget. Vintage and antique furniture can get expensive. Hence, set a realistic budget after researching well about the industry and start shopping. This way, you can find items that complement your home without exceeding your budget.

Wrapping Up

Incorporating Directoire and Empire-style furniture into your home allows you to imbue your space with timeless elegance and historical significance. Whether you're drawn to the austere simplicity of Directoire or the opulent grandeur of Empire, these iconic styles promise to elevate your interior decor to new heights of sophistication and refinement.

At Eloquence, we help you find the perfect vintage furniture to complement your refined taste. We specialize in home accessories and antique furniture and are passionate about craftsmanship and design.

Frequently Asked Questions

What wood is used to make Directoire furniture?

Directoire furniture is typically crafted from high-quality woods such as mahogany, cherry, or oak.

Does vintage furniture look good in a modern household?

Yes, vintage furniture adds character and charm to modern interiors, creating an eclectic yet harmonious aesthetic.

Are Vintage furniture styles functional in modern homes?

Vintage furniture often boasts superior craftsmanship and durability, making it highly functional in contemporary settings.

Are Empire-style furniture suitable for a minimalist home?

While Empire furniture tends to be more ornate, it can still complement minimalist interiors, adding a touch of grandeur and sophistication.

How to take care of vintage upholstered furniture?

Regularly vacuum upholstered vintage furniture to remove dust and debris, and consider professional cleaning services for deeper maintenance. Avoid placing upholstered pieces in direct sunlight to prevent fading, and address any stains promptly to preserve their appearance.

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