I loved The King’s Speech and all, but I still have one lingering question: “How do I get my place to look like that?” Maybe you saw those palatial estates and are asking yourself the same thing.
Thankfully, Jamie Lengyel, one of the film’s location managers, shared some of his secrets for casting rooms in Buckingham Palace (the British royal family’s residence), Balmoral Castle (their Scottish country house), and other locations. The Location Managers’ Guild also posted some photos, which are a great study for anyone who loves grand rooms.
Granted, you’re probably not going to build a grand staircase. But if you think in larger terms, you can achieve a more formal living space on a less-than-royal budget.
Try some of these tips with a modern twist to bring the opulence of a palace to your own home.
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Paint It Red
Whether it’s paint, a faded red carpet that looks almost purple, or a red-orange wallpaper in the study; in old-fashioned décor, red symbolized lushness and riches. British paint purveyor Farrow & Ball has some especially great hues, with the added bonus of evocative names: Check out “Picture Gallery Red” and “Blazer.”
Modern spin: Use more neutral tones (think a modern taupe) with red accents in your upholstery, pillows, and throws.
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All That Glitters
If there’s one thing those royals liked, it was a nice, healthy dose of gold leaf paint, which you can get at an art supply store. If you own your place, consider decorating the walls by painting your moldings gold. For a subtle—but still effective—touch, paint a thin line of gold just under your molding, like a racing stripe. To get a clean edge, use a bunch of business cards and paint down to the card—this gives you an even better line than using traditional blue painter’s tape.
Modern spin: Buy a gilded picture frame, or gild one you find at the flea market.
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Back in the day when heating was scarcer than it is now, heavy window coverings were a necessity. In The King’s Speech locations, there’s one room where the drapes come straight to the floor on either side of the exposed, uncovered radiator. Today, we would cover the radiator and use more minimal window treatments—but if you want that grand look, more is better.
Modern spin: Keep your current window treatments, but add a fabric swag or valance at the top.
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It makes sense that in a royal residence, there are portraits and photos of ancestors everywhere: There are a lot of ancestors in a lineage that long. Just imagine how crowded your place would be if you had a photo of each of your aunts, uncles, and grandparents. You can get the same effect, though, by grouping five family photos together on one table or on one piece of wall.
Modern spin: Hang a 100-year-old family photo in the hallway…just maybe not yours. I did this once with a photo I got at the flea market for nine bucks—and I only rarely confessed that it was someone else’s family.