Add Art Deco Style to Your Home
With a radical first appearance in the 1920s, art deco style has caught the eye of architects, fashion icons and interior designers. The style’s prominent lines, geometric shapes and bold colours carried through the Great Depression and into the early 1930s. But even after its prime popularity, art deco remains on the scene with refreshing, modern designs and fresh art deco décor.
Art Deco in Australia
The art deco period was a popular architectural style across Australia. By the 1930s, art deco’s touch was visible on many public buildings, such as the Royal WA Institute for the Blind and the Emu Brewery in Perth, The Astor Theatre in St. Kilda, and the Ford Manufacturing Plant in Geelong.
While these unique architectural designs were great examples of the art deco period, the style also can be found in furniture, jewellery, fabrics, furniture and other industrial examples, such as cars and boats.
Art Deco’s Famous Buildings
Prominently seen in architecture, art deco has lived on through its classic structures. Internationally, these famous buildings shaped an architectural revolution and still stand today as examples of what original design and imagination can create:
The Empire State Building
This 102-story skyscraper in Midtown Manhattan, New York City, opened in 1931. It was famously known as the tallest building in the city for nearly 40 years, and many tourists visit to ride the elevator and view the city from its observation deck on the 86th floor. Architect William F. Lamb produced the drawings for the famous art deco structure in just two weeks, and he capped off the building with a 16-story art deco tower that sits over the commercial space inside.
The Chrysler Building
Created during the same era as the Empire State Building, the Chrysler building was in a race to see if it could be the tallest building in New York City. While it held the title for a short time, it was eventually beat by the Empire State Building at its completion. With 77 floors, the Chrysler Building is considered to be a favourite of architects who admire its crown-like skyscraper that was designed to reflect the light, bright feeling of the building.
Known for its famous iceberg sinking in 1912, the Titanic was one of the more famous examples of art deco’s iconic style. Its straight lines, bold colours and dramatic look made it a cruise liner that made history not only with its immense size, but also with its art deco style.
The Century Building
Built in 1939 as office space, the Century Building in Melbourne is a dramatic, vertical-designed building created by architect Marcus Barlow. The striped design showcases white faience blocks with a corner tower that gives the illusion of extreme height.
Art Deco’s Key Features
Art deco is not defined by one design feature. In fact, it can be identified in a variety of ways, whether it includes the original, classic styles found when it first appeared or in more modern art deco accessories that can be found today. Adding art deco décor to your home can be accomplished by finding just a few of the key features to include in anything from furniture to accessories. Keep an eye out for some of these characteristics to know you’re on the right path:
Art deco materials come in several forms. Chrome, Bakelite, enamel, coloured glass and frosted glass are often found in many art deco pieces. Look for pieces of furniture or accessories with metal finishes, mirrored tops or crystals to incorporate some of the shine factor found in many aspects of art deco interior design. These elements also can be used in untraditional ways. Chrome-touched furniture, enamel lamp shades and frosted light covers are just some of the ways you can incorporate art deco materials.
Flora & Fauna Motifs
There are plenty of unique ways to incorporate Mother Nature in art deco designs. While flowers, vines and leaves are often popular additions to any décor, art deco incorporates several natural elements into lamps, furniture and homewares. Shells, feathers and animal skins are great ways to add the art deco period to your home. You can add bits of mother of pearl, tortoiseshell and sunbursts to pieces like furniture, the border on mirrors or other art deco homewares.
Patterns are one of the easiest ways to design art deco rooms. Look for sharp lines and maybe even incorporate bold colours. Geometric shapes can be found throughout art deco style, whether it’s a building, vehicle or furniture design. Also keep an eye out for repeating patterns, zigzags, chevrons and symmetry. Bold lightning strikes and sweeping curves also are common patterns found in fabric, clothing and furniture designs. Incorporate art deco patterns in bathroom or floor tiles, bold wallpaper and even stone. If the pattern speaks too loudly for you, try using it in smaller portions. Patterned wallpaper can look great on an accent wall, while a bright colour of paint can be used to cover the other walls.
Bold Colour Schemes
Art deco often shines with splashes of colour mixed with other key features of this style. Vivid, bright colours can be sidekicks to geometric patterns, animal prints or mirrors. Contrasting shades of emerald, cream, white, gold, black, silver and red are usually seen in splashes on furniture, accessories and even walls. Use bright colours on art deco tiles or in small accessories that can easily be changed out. You could even consider painting an accent wall in one of these shades. When used in combination with other art deco features, bold colours make a room shine.
Incorporate Art Deco Designs Into Your Home Décor
Now that we’ve covered the basics of art deco décor, it’s easy to find ways to add these design aspects to your home. Whether you want to create entire art deco rooms or you only wish to add key pieces, there are plenty of ways to work with this iconic style. The following examples of art deco interior design can help you pick and choose items to add to your own arrangement:
Mirrors and Mirror Tile
Mirrors are a popular form of imagery in art deco interior design. Often affordable additions to home décor, mirrors help spaces appear brighter and larger without much effort. Use layered mirrors or mirrors that incorporate other art deco designs, such as sunbursts and fans, or ones cut into geometric or angular shapes. Also try to think of mirrors beyond what you normally see hanging on the wall. Mirrors also are popping up on nightstands and coffee tables as great ways to incorporate art deco designs.
Reflective lamp bases with a chrome or a mirror finish also help reflect light, making the brightness work double time for you. The varied use of mirrored furniture means you can add art deco accessories that also feature interior design elements.
Rugs are an easy way to add the bold looks of art deco accessories to your home. Look for large area rugs with geometrical shapes, bold patterns or bright colours to help tie the room together and add art deco style. Rugs also can be layered over carpeting to unite furniture and add a sense of dimension to a space, and they can be easily changed out if you want to update the design of the room. Look for large rugs that cover most of the floor area.
Small details can help art deco furniture stand out in a room. These iconic pieces are great additions, whether in the bedroom, living room or kitchen. Look for streamlined furniture with smooth lines that incorporate art deco’s clean look. The occasional bold piece of furniture, such as a patterned chair and a bright table make the look pop. It’s also easy to add chrome-based furniture to bring some shine and reflection to a room. Look for coffee tables or kitchen chairs with the sleek, art deco design.
Art deco furniture is often known for bold pieces that don’t necessarily match. That way, certain pieces can stand out. Large, rounded, padded armchairs and chaise lounges give a hint to art deco’s cosy side against the bold patterns and sharp lines that can be seen elsewhere. You also might want to add a bar cart to a kitchen or living room, so tasty martinis can be whipped up on the spot. Accessorise the cart with metallic mixers and mirrored or glass containers to add a retro touch.
Look for an art deco dining table to tie your eating area together. A table featuring art deco’s straight lines or bold patterns mixed with chrome finishes can be the base to a room filled with art deco décor. A good dining room table also becomes the place where people gather to enjoy meals and make new memories.
Incorporate the fine fabrics of art deco with fur blankets or rugs, velvet seat cushions or a satin chair. These soft, cosy fabrics often work well against popular wood features in an art deco room. The contrast of polished or lacquered wood against a plush piece of art deco furniture ties the look together for a sophisticated yet comfortable design.
Adding light to a room means more than adding a basic lamp to your home décor. It’s easy to incorporate art deco’s key features into lighting options, too. Because different styles of glass are found throughout art deco, you can easily choose one or two to add to your whole arrangement.
Frosted glass lighting can add a soft subtle look to a bedroom, living room or even a kitchen. Using frosted glass in pendant lighting brings an artistic look to rooms that need an extra sense of dimension or pop. For other hanging light options, try enamel lightshades. Often providing a dash of colour, these lightshades can liven up a dining room or add a contrasting shade to a bedroom.
If you want to continue with dramatic art deco lighting, look for etched or sandblasted wall lights. The soft white of these lights give a bright, yet quiet look to a room without taking up much space in the way a floor lamp might. Pattern them across the wall to make these lighting fixtures work double time as decorative accessories.
If you truly want a unique art deco look, keep an eye out for the classic lamps made popular in the 1920s that feature dancing ladies holding frosted lamps. These retro pieces add a feminine touch and a bold artistic design that fits in perfectly with the art deco lighting you can add to your home.
Art deco lamps — whether a floor or table lamp — are great ways to add art deco’s design to a room. Pearled lamp bases, mirrored glass and colourful or patterned shades mean you can easily add art deco’s bold designs in small ways.
While furniture, fabrics and patterns make an art deco room, retro images showcasing this style can add a burst of life to wall art. Art deco posters are a fun way to bring that variety of colour and design to a room. By adding a framed poster to your décor, you can highlight art deco’s industrial footprint through images of aeroplanes, cars, cruise liners and skyscrapers. These posters are often more than just a photograph. Many feature artistic renditions of these man-made wonders, showcasing the bold colours, straight lines and fun patterns found in the art deco era.
Old images of advertisements for popular products also make great posters. Often scattered with intriguing fonts and bright sales pitches, advertisement posters are a nod to the market that gave us the modern products we use today. Art deco posters also can be easily changed out or rotated based on the season if you want to update the look throughout the year or if you just want to freshen up the space.
Add Art Deco to Your Home
Art deco furniture and accessories are an ideal way to bring this iconic style into your home. Incorporate it in small touches or devote entire rooms to the bold design. Modern art deco designs also allow décor to be as retro or new-age as you might like. Try combining bold patterned rugs with mirrored lamp stands or chrome-based furniture. Add bright, contrasting colours with an accent wall, a single piece of furniture or throw pillows.
Modern art deco furniture, accessories and designs are the perfect way to add a fresh take on a classic look.
If you are lucky enough to be renovating a home with art deco heritage, here’s some products we’d recommend
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