Get the Look: The Young Pope’s Traditional Yet Exotic Vatican

With the Met Gala’s theme last month being “Heavenly Bodies: Fashion and Catholic Imagination”, I got to thinking about how the Catholic Church has influenced other areas of design. The lives lived within the Vatican are a beautiful juxtaposition of minimalism and maximalism as seen in the architecture and interior decor. Symbolism and story are woven (literally) into the textiles of the Church. With that being the spark of inspiration, I revisited HBO’s series The Young Pope.

The interiors and exteriors of the Vatican (as shown in the series) are traditional, yet exotic. And it’s not just because there’s a kangaroo hopping around the gardens. Now it’s a well known fact that TV and movies have not been allowed to film within the walls of Vatican City, however the production design team did extensive research to replicate the Holy See for the show. There is a level of craftsmanship and intricacy that’s apparent in each location. To generalize, the envelope of each space is light. The paint, plaster, draperies and flooring are a light neutral. In the library, the black and white marble floor reflect light beautifully through the sheer white draperies onto the off-white patterned wallpaper.

(Image credit: Gianni Fiorito/HBO)

To achieve your light and airy envelope consider patterned wallpaper in off-white, light warm grey, or silver on every wall in your room. Leave the accent wall to your friends with the modern farmhouse decor. You want the pattern to wrap around you subtly, and then when you get up close, wow you with intricacy, like a 2,000 piece jigsaw puzzle of a paint gradient. Pick something beautiful and complicated. If wallpaper is out of the question, light dusty neutral paint colors will certainly do the trick.

The contrast comes from the built-in woodwork and furniture throughout. For your space, consider woods like walnut or mahogany. The pieces within the Papal Residence are antiques from various eras, but the common thread is subtle decadence. Curved or spindled legs show a great deal of finesse on the part of the craftsman. Look for pieces that have these interesting details. A mix of wood and upholstered pieces will make your space more user friendly. For the upholstered pieces, look for fabric with a light ground and florals throughout. The interiors can get a bit glam (cause he’s a cool pope) with metallic threads peppered throughout.

(Image credit: Gianni Fiorito/HBO)

The rug on the floor of the Pope’s office was added as a stroke of artistic license by the show’s designer, showing the Papal coat of arms. This does not exist in the office, but it does give a sense of history and power throughout the show. You can look for traditional Persian style rugs with images. Maybe you’re into animals. Get a rug with them on it. Or maybe you like cherubs. Put some babies on your rug. Oh, you’re into flowers? They make rugs with those. Treat yo’ self.

If you’re not Catholic or particularly interested in displaying religious art, you can still get this look. It’s Renaissance chic… similar to Kim and Kanye’s house, but with furniture you can actually sit on.

Get the look

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