How To Decorate Your Home Like Windsor Castle

In spirit, your home is your castle — the place where you relax and close the door on the day's troubles. But could your home also look the part? Could you borrow a design cue from Windsor Castle — the world's oldest residential castle — and elevate your home to, well, royal status? Built in the 11th century by William the Conqueror, Windsor Castle served as a military base and not his home, says Royal Collection Trust, but 39 monarchs did embrace the home-castle connection. For anyone desiring to follow in their footsteps, there's plenty written about their elaborate tastes. The castle today represents 1,000 years of history. Though a fire in 1992 destroyed 115 rooms, it remains the epitome of grandeur in its rebuilt state and a private weekend getaway for Queen Elizabeth (via Royal Collection Trust).

Think over-the-top elegance to renovate like a royal, but tone it down to mesh with everyday living. You won't find a shortage of décor to match your new castle style. Think chandeliers as a nod to the Queen's Ballroom, or gold accents and velvet draperies to mimic St George's Hall (via House Beautiful). Tread lightly as you incorporate these ideas, and your home will truly be your castle.

Give your castle the Midas touch

Talk about grand impressions! It's tough to find a room in Windsor Castle that isn't decorated to the hilt with gold. It is a castle, after all. But one room that stands out with gold — from wall to ceiling — is the Grand Reception Room, part of the main State Apartments where royalty hosts heads of state in opulent style. But anyone can accent with gold to max their home's elegance. Gold has long found a place in home décor, but in 2021 it stood out as a hot trend, according to My Move.

Shimmering gold is the ticket to glitz and glamour in any room, but this style goes far beyond that because of its versatility. Both the maximalist and traditionalist can find a friend in gold. There's gold furniture, accent walls, and draperies for the daring. For the more refined, My Move suggests chandeliers and lampshades, accents, picture frames, and hardware like faucets. What Architectural Digest admires about gold is the inviting feeling it can create — that is, if you don't go overboard. While a standout on its own, gold is a great team player, pairing well with textures, colors, and different materials. Think of gold thread to accentuate an organic rug for a subtle touch, or gold-patterned wallpaper for a wow factor. Whatever you decide, the effect will be golden.

Light up the room with glass chandeliers as in the Queen's Ballroom

Nothing says glam like a glass or crystal chandelier, even if you don't have a ballroom. Chandeliers can give any room ambiance and make you feel like a royal under the sparkling glow. Although Windsor Castle has chandeliers just about everywhere, those commissioned by George III in the Queen's Ballroom stand out for the finest quality, according to House Beautiful.

In your home, it doesn't matter if a room is tiny. These hanging lamps can add luxury to a powder room, and they can undoubtedly grace a dining room, bedroom, or entrance hall. In fact, Architectural Digest even pictures an antique chandelier in a walk-in closet. What a way to leave the house each day feeling like a monarch! When decorating with a chandelier, some pointers are to choose one that fits the size and style of the room and then give it center stage, says The Spruce. You might even find décor that complements the chandelier. Look for a vintage treasure for bargains, and don't break the bank insisting on Swarovski crystal. Glass chandeliers can also make a visual impact. Or step outside the box by considering unexpected materials, such as metal orb light fixtures (via Bob Vila).

Revisit Gothic architecture from the Middle Ages

Developed in the Middle Ages, Gothic architecture is a European-born style defined by its exaggerated height and intricate décor, says My Modern Met. Gothic architecture is the heart of Windsor Castle's aesthetic, and it can be used to draw out the castle in your own home. When Windsor Castle was renovated after the 1992 fire, it could have toned down the Gothic decor and added more contemporary elements. But, according to The New York Times, the castle doubled down on its historical aesthetic, relying heavily on the Gothic arch and sprucing up the place with Gothic geometry, medieval allegory, and symbolism.

You might not be able to mirror the castle with grand archways or an octagon-shaped room, but there are other Gothic touches that you can incorporate into your home décor. Consider Gothic Victorian or damask wallpaper, heavy velvet drapery, antique-effect tin ceiling tiles, ornate décor, and lancet windows, suggests The Spruce. And don't ignore a tasteful smattering of black. "It's very obvious that the primary color used when it comes to Gothic décor is black, but this doesn't mean you need to go all out and decorate your home all black," Land of Rugs decorator Ryan Jones told The Spruce. "You can simply add black decorative pieces to add to the look!"

Build a fireplace in your Windsor Castle-like kitchen

According to the Royal Collection Trust, Windsor Castle has the oldest working kitchen in the country, along with original fireplaces from the 1360s. The kitchen is typically the heart of the home, so why shouldn't it boast the type of ambiance that a fireplace can best deliver? With a fireplace in the kitchen, you'll likely savor its friendly glow more often with the good company of your family and friends than if it was tucked away in a study or den. Moreover, certain fireplaces (not the gas kind) can also bring an old-world quality to cooking. An estimated 3 billion people worldwide still cook their meals over open fires, says National Geographic, although the kitchen fireplace in America was trumped by the gas range roughly 150 years ago. Bon Appétit says cooking over smoldering wood in a non-gas fireplace can give a steak that smoky quality most people crave. The key is following safety protocols including cleaning the chimney.

A kitchen fireplace also scores points for aesthetics, and though it's a natural fit with a rustic or farmhouse design-home, it can also enhance transitional styles, as seen in One Kindesign. The surrounding elements give the fireplace all this versatility, such as firebrick, split-face marble, and antique-reclaimed limestone. Each of these stones evokes a certain vibe, one of which may be just right for your castle-like décor.

Garden like a royal with roses

Windsor Castle had some exciting news to share in 2020 with rose lovers. The castle's East Terrace Garden, a testament to Queen Elizabeth's breathtaking landscaping, opened to visitors for the first time in four decades, according to Martha Stewart. Providing a glimpse of the Windsor Castle parkland, the East Terrace Garden is the happy home of thousands of rose bushes and yew domes encircling a bronze lotus fountain. 

Not ready to travel? Plant roses in your own garden, add a fountain or two, and capture the flavor of royalty. A rose garden can be as elaborate as the East Terrace Garden or as basic as your taste and space decide. Roses can bloom in a flower bed or a balcony container; they can climb an arbor or enhance statuary. This colorful classic can be a solitary star or share the stage with other blooms. What's important in choosing a site in the sun. According to Garden Design, roses need to drink in many rays, at least six to eight hours a day. But the good news is even newbies can succeed with today's heartier roses, which are bred to better stand up to disease. So put your green thumb to work and grow your own roses worthy of a royal.

Look at ceilings the royal way

If you've mastered gold accents, rose gardens, and kitchen fireplaces and think that artwork is just for walls, then maybe you're still a newbie to castle life. Windsor's past royals had quite a bit of decorating to do with 1,000 rooms, according to Vogue. Yet they didn't overlook the potential wow factor of every ceiling. One of the most outstanding examples came about in the 17th century when Charles II sought to rival Versailles in France. His modernization efforts created the grandest State Apartments in the country. Antonio Verrio, an Italian painter, known for his murals, was commissioned to dramatize the high ceilings, according to the Royal Collection Trust. Though a fire took a heavy toll on his work, you can follow on the heels of Verrio and add excitement to your own ceilings. It doesn't have to be the Sistine Chapel. Even a small touch of color will take you far from Dullsville.

HGTV suggests treating the ceiling as a fifth wall waiting to be brought to life with color, pattern, dimension, or texture. Perhaps the simplest solution is painting the ceiling a standout color like orange, but your muse might also direct you to other HGTV ideas like stenciled designs, stripes, wallpaper, or fabric. Molding can elevate your ceiling to castle quality without draining your budget, says The Spruce. And there's still the option to take Verrio's cue and paint a design, making your own masterpiece.

Make a royal statement with tiles and rugs

Not to be overshadowed by ceilings, floors are another opportunity to transform your home into a castle by leaving no area uncovered. Many of Windsor's rugs dazzle with their bold designs, and with so many patterns available today, the world of royal decorating is well within reach. Never stuck in a rut, the castle also creates intricate designs with tiles, and you can too. 

To add interest with rugs, consider adding multiple options to one space. Architectural Digest suggests experimenting with layered rugs for different effects, such as revamping the look of traditional décor with the unique placement of contemporary carpets. Play with an animal print under a cocktail table or a shag-effect over a patterned area carpet. You can expect a similar impact from floor tiles that are inspired by Windsor Castle. As mentioned in The Spruce, penny-round tiles can be mixed for a whimsical entranceway, while basketweave tiles can glam up a powder room. You might have marble taste, but porcelain tiles can deliver drama with minimal upkeep. Elevating your home to castle quality need not be costly.

Follow George IV and be bold about color

Let's face it. Crimson seldom tops the list of home design colors, and green has its fans and foes. For those who lean neutral, these shades may land far outside their comfort zone, but we're talking castles, so forget white and beige. Windsor is famous for its Crimson Drawing Room and Green Drawing Room, the latter of which is where the Duke and Duchess of Sussex posed for wedding photos in 2018, according to Vogue. The powerful display of color is no surprise. George IV was a big fan of opulence, and these rooms are part of the Semi-State Rooms designed as his private apartments. Not only do the walls in both rooms pay tribute to color but so does the elaborate furniture designed by Morel & Seddon.

These are regal shades that can have a royal impact, even in your home. In fact, DigsDigs suggests ways to mix red and green and not smack of Christmas. Try selecting one color as the dominant shade, so it doesn't conflict with the other. Even neutralists can work crimson and green into a natural setting as an accent. For those who are a little bolder like our George IV, a brightly colored rug might unite these shades. "Red is a statement color," New York City interior designer Janine Carendi MacMurray told Real Simple. Because too much can mean overkill in a residential setting, Real Simple suggests playing it safe by introducing red through replaceable objects.

Wow your woodwork for that one-of-a-kind castle punch

Windsor Castle is known for dazzling the eye at every opportunity. Far from simple, its woodwork is intricate and sometimes carved. We might not have a castle to decorate, but we can take our woodwork from blah to ta-da in many ways. Bob Vila suggests creating excitement near your ceiling with crown molding, perhaps mixing molding patterns like dentil blocks or your beads. You can take it to the tilt in true castle style by pairing your crown molding with leaves, darts, or spindles as well. For more impact, try a standout trim like Greek Revival with distinct S-shapes and curves, says This Old House. Molding isn't limited to ceilings, but can also top doors, windows, or cabinets. Basically, it can be used anywhere that could use a little oomph.

To wow your walls, consider chair rails, which can accentuate wainscoting below and wallpaper or grasscloth above. If you're thinking drama at every junction, you're getting the knack of royal design.

Imitate the royals with sculptures in your home design

Per the Royal Collection Trust, the art collection at Windsor Castle features sculptures as old as the 15th century. While you might not immortalize your friends in marble as George IV did in his castle, sculptures can be the focal point of any home's décor. Sculptures need not be humongous to catch the eye and make a statement, says Architectural Digest. In fact, sculptures come in myriad shapes, styles, and materials. The key is finding one that suits your taste and then giving it center stage in the room. Sculptures can dazzle from many vantage points; they can be freestanding, mounted to a wall, or rest on a tabletop. Even the sculpture's placement is an expression of individuality.

Can't afford a famous artist? For a more budget-friendly solution, decorative busts are trending right now, according to MyDomaine. You can place a classic Roman bust on a mantle or choose a decorative bust that doubles as a planter for a bit of whimsy. Whatever your choice, let it be art that speaks to your heart, and you'll have a castle that feels like home.

Indulge in an opulent style known as Baroque

One of the most prominent styles evident at Windsor Castle is Baroque, abounding in ornate, luxurious details and dating back to the 17th century. The Royal Collection Trust describes the rooms designed for Charles II and his queen at Windsor Castle as the grandest sequence of baroque State Apartments in England. Your own castle can delve into the world of Baroque design and follow in the footsteps of kings — like Louis XIV at the French Palace of Versailles — with large gold-trimmed furniture, rich tapestries, and wow-worthy chandeliers.

That this style evokes power and grandeur is no mistake, according to Architectural Digest. This is a design meant to convey majestry. Think big mirrors with gilt frames, doors carved in ornate designs, and classic furniture pieces. According to Houzz, the Baroque style, popularized in the 17th and 18th centuries, made a modern comeback in the present century, shaking the monarchy of minimalist home fashion. Want to feel like a king or queen in a lush home setting? Other ways to reflect Baroque design include using marble, jewel tones, and intricate moldings and architectural features. Rather than dethroning modern fashion, Baroque has a way of providing just the right contrast for contemporary pieces.

Create an accent wall with rich tapestries for castle-like ambiance

For centuries, the leading form of art at Windsor Castle has been fine tapestries, designed by artists and woven with gold and silk. Back in the day, cost made tapestries a style limited to the wealthy, with each piece taking months to weave. But today, we can get a tapestry without all that effort and keep some of that royal status for ourselves.

According to House & Garden, some might consider tapestries locked in the past. Still, they miss out on the versatile ways that fabric and textiles can accentuate both traditional and modern home design. Being open to the magic of tapestry unlocks a vast treasure-trove of style options, from Turkish rugs to handmade Indian kanthas and heirlooms, which can be framed and showcased above a sofa or bed. But don't think tapestries are strictly for walls. Available in lightweight fabric to meet any budget, tapestries can brighten your home in seemingly endless ways. They can be used as a bedspread, curtains, ceiling art, privacy screen, or bed canopy, says Flux Magazine. While any tapestry can liven up a room, look for one with a castle vibe. This means getting one in jewel tones, vibrant blues and greens, or accentuated with gold — because we know the royals loved that sparkle!

Sip tea like the Queen on authentic china

It's no myth that the British love their tea. But a teacup is so much more than a vessel to drink Earl Grey. You'll find royal china sets from Windsor Castle on the Royal Collection Trust website, which often commemorate special occasions like Queen Elizabeth II's 90th birthday or Prince Harry and Meghan Markle's wedding. These china sets are in themselves a work of art. For example, the queen's collection was made with techniques unchanged for 250 years and hand-finished with 22-carat gold. The detail is awe-inspiring, like the wedding set border reflecting the ironwork of the 13th-century Gilebertus door at St. George's Chapel.

Now that you have inspiration, think about what's special to you and go shopping. Blue and white china is a re-emerged classic, says Elle Décor, but your options are plenty and may depend on how you plan to showcase your treasure. Your new china may fit best behind the glass doors of kitchen cabinets or a dining-room hutch. You can also show off your china on the dining-room wall or in a position of honor on open shelving or an antique server. Follow one or all of these Windsor design tips and see if the castle effect doesn't rub off on your home. It's a great way to elevate your style and reign over timeless techniques truly fit for a royal.