Going Gothic

PUBLISHED : Sunday, 13 September, 2009, 12:00am
UPDATED : Sunday, 13 September, 2009, 12:00am

If you've ever visited St John's Cathedral on Garden Road and thought, 'This is exactly the design I'd like for my home,' maybe you should consider going Gothic. Originating in 12th-century France, Gothic architecture is highly ornate and typified by elements such as the flying buttress. While enlisting a team of stonemasons to add a flying buttress to the outside of your house might be excessive, achieving a Gothic interior is considerably less hassle.

First a word of warning: Gothic can be quite dark and often a tad macabre.

Gothic suits very big spaces (universities and cathedrals, for example) as anybody who's ever tried to shoehorn a church pew into their Hollywood Road studio apartment will attest.

When it comes to Gothic-style furniture, think dark and heavy. If it doesn't take 14 men to carry it, it's probably too slight. Look for ornate pieces and try to incorporate the quintessential pointed arch in the detailing. High-back chairs teamed with a gargantuan King Arthur table would be a perfect combination.

Your bed should also be fit for royalty. An intricately carved four-poster hung with a rich red and gold velvet canopy is tres Gothic.

You could go even further and plonk a suit of armour in the corner of the room and hang some heraldic shields on the wall along with a few swords.

Or, you can slap yourself around the face and stop this nonsense at once.

We prefer Gothic to be carried off with a more contemporary attitude. One of the most successful examples in recent years is the five-storey London townhouse designed by Meg Mathews (ex-wife of British rocker Noel Gallagher), who lived there until last year.

She designed her home to be the epitome of Gothic rock-chick panache: dark and moody with deep burgundy walls and maroon carpets.

Mathews' bedroom had a feature wall of black-and-white skull wallpaper (available through www.megmathews.co.uk), which she designed herself. Apparently the wallpaper's macabre pattern was inspired by an Alexander McQueen scarf.

Most of the furnishings in Mathews' home were antique pieces that had been painted black. The bed was an ornate carved affair, which she had lacquered in black gloss. To replicate the idea, use a bed from an antique store and adorn it with black lace and pink cushions.

The ethereal Smoke range by Moooi (designed by Maarten Baas and available through Design Link, Ruttonjee Centre, 11 Duddell Street, Central, tel: 2868 0991) includes an armchair (left; HK$44,000) and chandelier (above; HK$12,300) that are straight out of Dracula's castle.

Instead of an expensive antique table lamp, try the Ferruccio Laviani-designed Kartell Bourgie lamp, in black (HK$3,000) or gold (HK$8,100), from Aluminium (58 Queen's Road East, Wan Chai, tel: 2577 4066).

How about Mathews' stunning black bathroom with a jet-black enamel tub? There are a few black baths (American Standards sells one) but you can always re-enamel your existing bath.

Don't forget the black loo paper. It's yours for HK$23 a roll from Renova (www.renovaonline.net).