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When I think of Art Deco, I think of the classic novel “The Great Gatsby.” I envision gleaming metal finishes, over-the-top artwork and extravagant furniture and décor.
It’s no wonder my mind jumps to this novel – “The Great Gatsby” took place in 1922, in an era called the Roaring 20s. Art Deco was the predominant decorative style in this age, extending in popularity through the 1930s.
It was mainly used as a classification of the visual arts, architecture and design, for both fashion and furniture. It’s a style that has a complicated definition but very distinct calling cards. In other words, you know it when you see it, but how do you define Art Deco?
Moreover, how can you incorporate this trend into your house? We have insights from experienced interior designers and professional decorators to help.
What Is Art Deco?
Between the World Wars, there was a feeling of optimism and progress that was subsequently reflected into artistic expression. Coupled with the advancement in technology and machinery, the Art Deco style was born and quickly spread to home furnishings.
Art Deco style is strategically eclectic. Contrary to a true eclectic design style, Art Deco purposefully chooses features that are embellished, opulent and over the top. It’s all about elevating the eccentric and luxurious through statement pieces.
It’s usually characterized by geometric patterns, bold colors and clean, polished metal. This posh and often erratic decorative style was abandoned shortly after World War II, as a more practical and functional style, modernism, came into play.
However, for those still enamored with the style of Art Deco, there are ways you can incorporate it into your home, with strategic decorating and minimal home updates.
How Can You Incorporate the Art Deco Style in Your Home?
If you have a modern home, adopting an Art Deco décor style may pose a challenge. After all, the features of this trend can look dated or out of place when styled incorrectly.
“Not every home today lends itself to a full-fledged Art Deco conversion,” explains Sara Cannon, designer at House Heroes Realty. “Fortunately, since Art Deco has always been a marriage of modern and classic, and pulls from many different styles, there’s no reason little touches can’t be brought in for a bit of glamour and grace.”
Cannon recommends starting small, adding touches of Art Deco in strategic places in your home, like painting a room with dark paint or adding a large, decorative mirror in your bedroom. She even recommends updating your molding and trims to look more elegant and decorative.
Similarly, Beverly Solomon, creative director at Beverly Solomon Design, recommends incorporating the simplest touches, like changing your bathroom tile to a geometric design or swapping your stairway railing for sleek aluminum.
“The best way to begin your planning is to do all the research you can,” instructs Solomon. “Look at all the books and online photos of Art Deco homes, buildings and décor for inspiration.”
Let’s take a look at how you can adopt these subtle changes into your home décor to achieve an Art Deco style.
Art Deco design relies on the dramatic, and there’s nothing that makes a bold statement like dark interior paint. Not to mention, it’s a designer trick to make your room look larger. Try using colors like navy, dark green or black to really make an impact.
“Even small rooms can benefit from dark, rich wall color,” explains Cannon. “If you’re feeling extra brave, try patterned wallpaper in a large-scale print.”
Whether you go with a whole new paint job or a project with less commitment, like removeable wallpaper, Cannon suggests adding decorative gold accent pieces to your walls and in other details of the room in order to bring out the color of the walls. We’ll talk more about that next.
One defining aspect of the 1920s was the sudden availability of metallic decorative pieces in home décor. So it’s no surprise that this polished look made its way into Art Deco style.
“The designers of that period were really excited about having access to mass-produced metallics, so we see a lot of reflective materials in their work,” says John Linden, lead interior and furniture designer at MirrorCoop.
Start with adding a large statement mirror and decorative gold light fixtures to your walls. You can also switch out your light switch covers, register covers and outlets with ornate metallic pieces to tie the room together, or you can simply add a large floor lamp.
Like bold colored paint, the Art Deco style also involved boldly patterned flooring in areas like the kitchen and bathroom. Black and white tiles were especially popular, as the dramatic contrast between the white and black checkered tile created a statement.
“The simplest touches one can add to any room in your home are putting in large, bold black and white patterned floors,” says Solomon. “For bathrooms and kitchens, the smaller tiles in geometric patterns work wonders.”
If you’re not looking to update your home’s flooring any time soon, there are still ways you can incorporate this look into your home. Try adding checkered tile on your kitchen backsplash or subway tile to your shower interior.
To elevate the look and feel of home décor, a designer in the Art Deco period would use lavish fabrics and materials to give the appearance of wealth and class. It was a way to add style as well as comfort to the home.
“Keep in mind that the goal of Art Deco designers was to make the industrial modern style more soft, livable and beautiful,” says Solomon. “They wanted to project a balance of modernism, sophistication, elegance and beauty.”
These days, you can achieve this look in a more affordable, accessible way. Try incorporating fabrics like velvet into your furniture pieces and curtains. Unlock your wild side by adding faux fur pillows and throws to your couches and accent chairs.
Obviously, the furniture found in most Art Deco style homes would have been considered the norm in 1920s America. Today, with minimalism and midcentury modern décor on the rise, it might look eccentric and over the top. However, there are subtle ways to add it to your home.
“Art Deco furniture is defined by streamlined shapes and early 20th-century furniture,” explains Linden. “[The furniture] should have very straight edges. If there are curves present, those curves are usually exaggerated but symmetrical.”
First, try incorporating the style in small details, like an ornate headboard for your master bedroom or a decorative coffee table in your living room. When done correctly, it should feel right at home in your room’s décor. Don’t forget the details! Linden suggests adding an animal print area rug to make a statement.
“Art Deco came about during a time when designers had access to all kinds of exotic printed fabrics, so it’s common to see animal print rugs and other eccentric patterns in their work,” explains Linden.
Filling a modern, industrial space with 20th-century décor could look forced and out of place, but the key to incorporating Art Deco style into your home is to take your time and start small. Swap out a few pieces at a time and look to designers for inspiration.
- Art Deco Wallpaper – $38 – $96
- Gold Decorative Mirror – $38
- Gold Floor Lamp – $102
- Velvet Curtains – $60 – $90
- Wood Headboard – $327
- Faux Fur Throw Pillow – $20
- Cowhide Area Rug – $288 – $320
- Velvet Tufted Ottoman – $60
- Wood and Glass Coffee Table – $211
- Porcelain Mosaic Tile – $6 per sq. ft.
“Art Deco doesn’t have to be all that literal,” reveals Cannon. “Today’s translation can mean taking the care to leave no corner of your home unadorned in some small way.”
Do you have any Art Deco details in your home? Share your style tips in the comments below!
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