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How to Rock the Stone Age “Primitive” Interior Design Style


Interior Design in the Stone Age: A Quick History

We’ve all heard of the Paleo diet. It’s time to find out about how our Paleo ancestors lived at home and what we can learn from it!

In the Stone Age (also called the Paleolithic and Neolithic periods), interior design was a little bit different than it is today. Instead of worrying about paint colors and furniture styles, our ancient ancestors were more concerned with practicality and functionality. They used stone as their primary building material, hence the name “stone age,” and decorated their homes with animal skins and crudely carved wooden furnishings.


This interior features a slightly updated stone age look with the addition of furniture and lanterns which might not have existed in the true stone age. To create an interior which draws inspiration from this one think of using mottled and textured plaster effects and embracing imperfections in the architectural shell to give the space a cave-like look. Rustic furniture which appears unfinished, unrefined textile weaves and ceramics add to the look.

Despite the lack of modern amenities, these early humans were still able to create comfortable and welcoming living spaces. Imagine snuggling up by a warm fire in a cave, surrounded by the soft glow of torches and the cozy fur of your favorite animal skin blanket. It may not have been as flashy as some of today’s designer homes, but it was certainly a functional and practical way to live.


Interior Design in the Paleolithic Age

The Stone Age was actually divided between the early Paleolithic period and the Neolithic period, also known as the New Stone Age.

Interior design in the first Stone Age was all about creating functional and comfortable living spaces using the resources available to our early ancestors. This often meant decorating with materials like animal skins, bones, and stones.

Our ancestors likely enjoyed waking up in a cozy cave, surrounded by the warmth of a fire and the soft glow of torches. The walls might be adorned with intricate carvings and paintings, depicting the daily lives and stories of the people who lived there. Furnishings were minimal, but practical, with crudely carved wooden chairs and tables serving as the centerpiece of the home.

Despite the lack of modern amenities, our paleolithic ancestors were able to create beautiful and welcoming living spaces using the resources at their disposal.


Why Home Decorations were More Meaningful in the Paleolithic Age

One interesting aspect of interior design in the Paleolithic age is that people often decorated their living spaces with a purpose beyond just aesthetics.

In addition to serving as a functional and comfortable place to live, the decorations and adornments found in paleolithic homes often had symbolic or spiritual significance. For example, animal skins and bones might be used to depict the hunter’s prowess or to honor the spirit of the animal. Similarly, cave paintings and carvings might depict important events or stories, or serve as a form of communication with the spiritual world.

So while our early ancestors may not have had the same level of sophistication in terms of interior design as we do today, they were still able to create meaningful and expressive living spaces that reflected their values and beliefs.


Interior Design in the Neolithic Period

This modern day interior draws on the spirit of the New Stone Age, incorporating natural materials in the furniture and decor and embracing cultural textiles, including the common practice in many cultures of using rugs on walls, both for decoration and to provide warmth.

One interesting aspect of interior design in the Neolithic period is the use of color. While people in the Paleolithic age primarily used natural materials such as stone and wood, the Neolithic age saw the development of techniques for producing and using colored dyes. This allowed people to add more vibrant and varied color to their living spaces, and to use color as a way to express their artistic and cultural identity.


For example, the ancient Egyptians used a range of brightly colored dyes to create intricate and ornate designs in their tombs and temples. Similarly, the ancient Greeks and Romans used color to adorn their homes and public buildings, with the wealthy often displaying their status through the use of expensive and exotic dyes.

So while color may not have played as significant a role in interior design during the Paleolithic age, it became an important element of Neolithic and subsequent periods.


What was the Difference between Neolithic and Paleolithic Age Interior Design?

The Neolithic age, also known as the New Stone Age, followed the Paleolithic age and lasted from around 12,000 years ago to 3,000 years ago. The main difference between the two periods in terms of interior design is the level of technological advancement and the availability of materials.

Adobe mud houses of the New Mexican tradition are well known even today. There are many benefits to using these types of materials, as they are suited to their local climate. One major benefit of building a home with natural materials like adobe mud brick is that they are highly energy-efficient, which can lead to significant savings on heating and cooling costs. Additionally, natural materials like adobe have a relatively low environmental impact compared to more traditional building materials, as they are made from locally-sourced and renewable resources, and do not require energy-intensive manufacturing processes.

During the Paleolithic age, people primarily used stone and other natural materials to build and decorate their homes. This often meant that their living spaces were relatively simple and functional, with few decorative elements. In contrast, the Neolithic age saw the development of agriculture and the domestication of animals, which led to the availability of new materials such as clay and animal dung.

This allowed people to start building more permanent structures, such as houses made of mud bricks, and to decorate their homes with a wider range of materials.

Neolithic homes also had a greater degree of division of space, with separate areas for cooking, sleeping, and storage.

Overall, the Neolithic age marked a significant shift towards more complex and diverse interior design.



Despite the fact that some people might find the allure of rustic elements like boulders, rough stone finishes and mud finishes in their home alluring, it might not be practical. When working with modern architecture the rustic look of earlier periods like New Stone Age might not be appropriate or easy to pull off.

Nonetheless, you can still absolutely still bring in key aspects and embrace the overall Paleo vibe in your own home. Some ideas include: creating your own custom built-in shelving that look like carved out cubby holes and thinking about built in benches and storage space. Remember to keep finishes matt, warm and natural. Consider plaster on your walls. Let the original natural materials shine and skip the paint, heavy varnish and lacquer.



The key in this type of scenario is to bring in the unrefined elements and the underlying philosophy of embracing cultural roots and meaningful decor. One established design method which does this particularly well and has proven quite popular in recent times is the wabi-sabi approach to interior design.

Other places to find inspiration include various regional country and chalet styles, and even the work of certain designers, like Clodagh, whose holistic personal design philosophy is quite harmonious with the concepts we’ve explored here.

Finally, don’t be afraid to explore different cultures. We can see a lot of similarities in the architectural styling and general approach of these interiors with traditional Greek home design.


We hope you’ve enjoyed learning about Paleo and Neolithic interior design with us. Stay tuned for future articles where we break the styles down further and give you practical guidance on how to decorate with real furniture and decor items.

If you like what you’ve read here today be sure to check out some of our other articles on unusual interior design styles and more!

Here are a few we think you might enjoy:

How to Design in 5 Tropical Asian Interior Styles

5 Reasons You Will Love Learning Interior Design History

How to Learn Interior Design Styles with Style Genres


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