Rococo vs. Baroque Architectural Design

Posted  on by Heartwood Carving, Inc.

Rococo vs. Baroque Architectural Design

When you hear the terms “baroque” and “rococo,” what do you think of? Both styles feature ornate embellishments, fine silk, and plenty of golden accents, but they each have distinctive features and unique moods that set them apart. In France, baroque and rococo were stylistic periods that occurred back-to-back. Baroque is a serious, more provocative style, while rococo relies on a sense of lightness and playfulness. You can distinguish these two styles by focusing on their mood, function, and method. In this guide on rococo vs. baroque architectural design, we’ll examine some of the distinguishing features of these two styles and explain how they function in both interior and exterior design.


The baroque era spanned from the 17th century to the early 18th century. It originated in Italy around 1600 and spread across Europe from there. The style uses classical orders and ornaments in ways that dramatically evoke movement. Baroque wasn’t just an architectural style; it permeated other parts of culture, including music and art. As an architectural style, baroque emphasized bold massing, colonnades, domes, and painterly color effects. You can identify baroque architecture and furniture by looking for luxurious, overly ornamented designs. These designs often include depictions of flowers, leaves, and cherubs, and they’ll occasionally feature intricate monograms. While it was an extravagant style, baroque was also symmetrical and balanced. It would be unusual to see a baroque-style room that’s cluttered and overwhelming. Unlike the rococo style, baroque featured prominently both inside and outside of the home. It was also a prominent style for the interior of churches during the time it was popular.


The rococo style originated in France at the end of the baroque period. Many consider it a subset of the baroque era, which is why many scholars frequently refer to the rococo era as “late baroque.” The biggest difference between rococo and baroque architectural design is their overall mood. While baroque was more of an opulent and serious style, rococo is light, frivolous, and whimsical, and it isn’t afraid to utilize asymmetrical detail. The style was born as a form of revolt against the somber and impersonal baroque designs present in the royal courts of France in Versailles. It focused on comfort, warmth, privacy, and informality while also representing the church and God. When the rococo era began, many people chose to keep their homes’ baroque architecture while renovating the interior to include new plasterwork, murals, mirrors, furniture, and porcelain. The furniture they used incorporated lighter colors, thinner framework, and wider arms, along with less symmetry.

It wasn’t uncommon for both baroque- and rococo-style homes to feature ornate details in gold, but wood was just as common. If you’re looking for a way to include baroque or rococo architectural design in your own home, Heartwood Carving’s carved wood appliques and onlays are a fantastic option. Our wooden appliques and onlays are perfect for decorating your fireplace mantel, stove or range hoods, or cabinetry headers. We can custom-carve our products to suit your needs. Browse through our selection of wooden accents, or contact us about ordering a custom piece today!

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