Gothic Chic

Written by Leah LeMoine Category: At Home Issue: October 2014
Group Mid-Level
Character count 2500

Don’t be spooked – Gothic design is more about drama than dark forces.

Romance, drama, intrigue – the hallmarks of Gothic literature also make for captivating modern design. But just because your aesthetic is more Frankenstein than faux-Tuscan doesn’t mean you have to live in a vampire castle. Channel the mystique of Gothic design, and leave the gargoyles to The Munsters.

“I think people associate Gothic chic with fashion’s take on Gothic: a lot of black, a lot of lace. In architecture, Gothic is not necessarily black,” says Samantha Stinocher, showroom manager at Arizona Tile in Tempe. “It’s actually a lot of natural stone, very heavy and ornate... It can give you that dramatic punch from the fashion side without committing to all black.”

Steve Goldenstein, a world-renowned metal artist and owner of Studio Iron in Apache Junction, agrees. “The Gothic theme was more church-like than anything... the cathedral arches and all the intricate scrollwork.” He draws inspiration for his hand-forged designs from trips to Europe to study architecture and art.

Todd Zillweger, co-owner of Relics Architectural Home & Garden in Phoenix, also travels to Europe regularly to scour for antiques and religious artifacts. He advises Gothic-obsessed clients to stay true to the style without getting consumed by clutter. “Try incorporating Gothic architectural elements – arched-top doors, buttresses, groin-vaulted ceilings, rose windows – then accessorize with elements like chandeliers, furnishings and good accessories! Scale is the most important thing to keep in mind.”   

Scale and tone, says Tessa Koch, director of marketing at Feathers Fine Custom Furnishings in Scottsdale: “Add a moody feel with candlelight. Install heavy, lush drapery treatments to add elegance. Add drama with damask or flocked wallpaper. It should feel very moody and dark, yet still romantic and elegant.”

photos courtesy Relics Architectural Home & Garden
photos courtesy Relics Architectural Home & Garden

Relics Architectural Home & Garden
839 E. Camelback Rd., Phoenix

“Less is more; use a few items as focal points,” Relics owner Todd Zillweger says. “Buy quality items and when possible buy true antiques. Nothing looks as good as the real thing!” From left: antique Gothic oak sacristy cabinet ($3,000), antique Italian 18th-century cast-iron pendant lantern ($8,500), antique French iron door ($2,400).

Photo courtesy Studio Iron

Studio Iron
3400 W. Edge St., Apache Junction
This ornate window covering features pieces of restored steel built in Europe between 1880-1910 and 43 newly-fabricated pieces that were chemically treated, rusted and sandblasted to resemble the original pieces. Everything is done by hand at the family-owned, old-school blacksmith forge/workshop.





Arizona Tile
14700 N. Hayden Rd., Scottsdale
Stinocher advises using the Italian-made Della Terra quartz in Alberta as a low-maintenance alternative to marble or limestone. “You can use it in insets or patterns to give it more design and texture, or use it for countertops. It’s a little more dramatic and has a lot of movement in it.” Retail prices range from $22-$23 per square foot for the 3/4-inch slab and $28-$30 per square foot for the 1 1/4-inch slab.

photo courtesy Arizona Tile
photo courtesy Arizona Tile


photo courtesy Feathers Fine Custom Furnishings

Feathers Fine Custom Furnishings
15330 N. Hayden Rd., Scottsdale
“The lines of the chair are very Gothic, with the pointed arches and cut-out shape,” Koch says of the Esther damask chair ($1,495). The Sid Dickens memory blocks ($91 each; above left) “suggest a very moody tone with their Old World European designs.”