Art-Deco was wildly popular in the 1920’s right through the late 1930’s, fell out of fashion for a few decades and came back fast and furious in the 1950’s. Although Art-Deco’s rise to popularity began in Europe in the 1920’s, almost a century ago, the lines on furniture and facades are still considered modern and sleek. Art-Deco, hallmarked by large curved lines and angular geometric shapes, is an opulent style with a retro glamorous Hollywood feel. Art-Deco styling evokes feelings of being a 1930’s Hollywood starlet or big name producer. If you can picture yourself in a fringed flapper dress, draped across a chaise lounge holding a cigarette in a holder or just love the thought, Art-Deco is for you.
What is Art-Deco
Romain de Tirtoff, better known as Erte is often referred to as the father of Art-Deco for his art and design style. Art-Deco is a chic and elegant style that is found in architecture – namely New York City’s Chrysler Building, furniture, accents, jewelry, cars, clocks, lighting along with decorative accents. Art-Deco pieces are symmetrical and distinctive. The style draws on influences from many sources including cubism, neoclassical, modernism, futurism much of which is inspired by the Aztec and Egyptian cultures. Art-Deco is luxury and class exemplified through stainless steel, enamel, lacquer and aluminum brought to life through clean lines.
Although it looks expensive and original pieces can be pricey, you can decorate a home or apartment in the Art-Deco style on a budget. Knowing what pieces to look for or how to make existing furniture and walls appear to be Art-Deco allow you to begin infusing your home with a new décor.
Go for black and white tile, if you can afford marble tiling that would be the cat’s pajama’s – 1920’s influence. Laying a white floor with black tiles inset in a diamond pattern with a white border is true to the time period. If you have a love a wood, lay alternating light and dark wood in an angular geometric pattern and finish them off with a high gloss sheen. Typically, homeowners would lay a richly colored, floral, geometric design area rug over the tiles or wood to complete the look. The epitome of Art-Deco rugs was Zebra print. Find a reproduction rug to save on costs, but if you have your heart set on an original, have your checkbook handy and never let anyone walk on this rare find. Look in antique stores, ebay and yard sales, but beware there are a lot of fakes.
Look for wallpaper with angular repeating geometric patterns such as chevron, zig zag, curvy line patterns. Of course the wallpaper requires a metallic finish to add a futuristic yet modern feel. If you aren’t crazy about a busy metallic wallpaper, paint the walls in shades of beiges, taupes and tans. If you like thought of sleek and sophisticated metallics choose a metallic paint in bronze, silver or gold. Stick with one color palette when decorating walls using shades of gunmetal gray, muted blues or purples.
Add an angular mirror with great lines or a period reproduction poster to the walls to complete the look.
Art-Deco Curtains and Drapes
There are several directions you can take when choosing window coverings. Follow your color palette from the walls and look for rich color shimmering fabrics. Keeping the walls and curtains or drapes monochromatic,which intensifies the rich and opulent stylings of Art-Deco design. Or, choose a combination of black and white curtains set against a plain metallic wall. Lastly fall into the lap of luxury with plush velvet window coverings in a deep jewel tone color. Add angular shaped finials to the ends of curtain rods to finish the look.
Top choices in furniture were exotic woods such as ebony, finished to a high gloss shine, mirrored furniture, leather, metals and marquetry. If you have a piece of furniture with great Art-Deco lines, but the piece has seen better days, turn it into a fabulous Deco period style accent. Strip the existing finish from the table, bed, chair or what have you, fill in cracks or damage with wood putty and sand the surface smooth. Stain the wood a deep, dark color and add several coats of high gloss polyurethane. If you fancy mirrored furniture, take exact measurements of your furniture, go to your local glass store and have beveled glass cut to fit the piece. Rough up the finish with sandpaper, wipe away the dust and adhere the mirrors to the wood with construction adhesive. You can also buy pieces of wood veneer, create a Deco inspired design, rough up the surface and affix the veneer to the wood with wood glue – you’ve just mastered the art of marquetry. Add glass drawer pulls and door knobs.
If leather more fits your design vision, choose bright colors such as canary yellow, fire engine red or a regal purple. Spray chairs with a metallic silver paint to achieve the look of stainless steel or aluminum. If you are in the market for new furniture, Pulaski Furniture offers some great choices.
Think textured and metallic. Tin ceiling panels were all the rage in the 1920’s and again today. Do it yourself type homeowners will find it easy to install the ceiling panels, which simply stick to the existing wallboard with construction adhesive. If you really want to create a unique ceiling glue angularly shaped geometric patterns to the ceiling. Manufacturers make the shapes from lightweight foams and plastics. After installation, paint the ceiling sticking with your wall color palette or use a metallic paint.
Lighting brings both form and function to the room. Typical Art-Deco lighting added drama and elegance to the room through use of shiny metals with glass shades. Sweeping arcs or lean straight lines create the lamp shape. Hanging wall sconces or having a free standing lamp in the corner adds a feel of the Roaring 20’s. Think opulent. Install heat and air conditioning registers that are metallic, shiny and bold. Choose geometric patterns.
Fan vases, peacock feathers, interesting lavish glass, porcelain or metal bowls and knick knacks on shelves and tables. Don’t overcrowd displays. Go for the less is more approach and choose each piece carefully. Buy what you love, not just what you like.