It’s Easier Than You Think
It was the era of opulence, glamour and luxury. The Art Deco style mirrored the infectious optimism and enthusiasm that was spreading across the globe after World War I. It was a movement born out of the newfound wealth, freedom and hope of the Roaring Twenties. And for that reason, its style was bold, slick and classy.
Art Deco waned as World War II swept through, but it has since resurged as one of the most popular artistic genres of the twentieth century. Perhaps that’s why Art Deco is now a favourite style for contemporary interior designers. Its characteristic symmetry and boldness means the impact of your Art Deco living room will stay in the minds of your guests long after they’ve gone home.
But just what elements do you need to include so that your living space shows off the best Art Deco has to offer? Make your living room comparable to the most glamorous sets of Baz Luhrmann’s The Great Gatsby today. Here are our tips to help you create the ideal Art Deco space of which you can be proud.
Emphasize Geometric Shapes
Unlike Art Nouveau, Art Deco embraced the arrival of modern technology and the ways it was changing modern culture. It shed the organic look of Art Nouveau, instead emulating the geometry and symmetry of modern machinery.
For your Art Deco living space, you want to aim for the balance and symmetry that is found in archetypal Art Deco pieces. Go for eye-catching curvilinear and straight-lined forms and patterns, such as oft-used diamonds and cubes.
Wallpaper with bold patterns is the easiest way to quickly convey the Art Deco style in your living room. You can tastefully wallpaper one feature wall with a singular pattern so as not to overwhelm the senses immediately. Or you can frame and hang some renowned Art Deco prints by notable artists of the times, such as Tamara de Lempicka or Michael L Kungl.
[Image sourced from The Star]
Use Colours Sparingly
If you have a look at a typical Art Deco print, you’ll note that colours are chosen carefully and are usually quite muted, such as in the de Lempicka print below.
The most popular colours you’ll see used in Art Deco interior designs are subdued but classy. Glossy black, yellow, and red are commonly used. Cream, off-white, beige, oyster, silver, pale blue, dove grey, and shades of green are also added to offset bolder colours. It’s best to use colours sparingly; stick to a limited palette, combining two or three colours with accents of chrome or gold.
Pick Patterned Parquet
Just as your walls wouldn’t look Art Deco without some curvy lines or classical tessellations, neither could you pull off the look without some form of patterned flooring.
Once again, muted designs and colours are the key to the perfect Art Deco-patterned floor. Monochromatic squares, vinyl tiles or marble flooring work best. Or if you’d rather something stylish but less permanent, you can partially cover the floor with a chic rug with – you guessed it – geometric patterns.
Choose Decorations that Dazzle
Boldness applies to all manner of Art Deco ornaments. All pieces should reflect industrial designs that emulate the machinery of the times. So think glass, bronze, chrome, nickel, aluminium, steel, wrought iron and metallic paints.
Mirrors were big in the Art Deco period. But if you’re going to use them, make them bold centerpieces on your wall. Popular mirrors of the time were framed with a sunburst or were layered in a fan pattern.
Lamps, lights and wall sconces should be streamlined or sculptured with an emphasis on lines. Frosted, opaque white, or colourful glass shades were popular during the Art Deco period.
If you want to display something with a bit more artistry, choose items with motifs of deer, peacocks, roses and other flowers. You can also find lamp rods fashioned into elegant ladies, which were admired during this time.
Find Svelte Furniture
Art Deco evoked visual drama like no interior design style before it. So when choosing the furniture for your Art Deco living room, select décor that effects extravagance, sleekness and audacity.
For couches or armchairs, you’ll want distinct lines and patterns. Look for zigzags, stripes and chevrons. Fabrics should be shiny or silky and modern but comfortable. As with your ornaments, go for items that are streamlined in design.
When it comes to tables and screens, highly black or clear lacquered wood was most common during the Art Deco years. Popular woods included the Brazilian rosewood, ebony, birds-eye maple, and light maple veneers. You can also find this lacquered wood on the frames of couches and chairs, which are then upholstered with white leather or velour.
Bring Out the Explorer Within
The 1920s and 1930s were all about freedom. The world grew smaller with improved global transport. Travel and tourism boomed. King Tutankhamen’s tomb in Egypt was cracked open and his treasures within captivated the world.
This sense of adventure translated into the Art Deco movement. Animal prints represented the exoticness of the African safari. Pearl and tortoiseshell became fashionable on accessories. Pyramids, hieroglyphics, sphinxes and all things Ancient Egypt were commonly added to many design elements. You can choose to accentuate this aspect in your Art Deco living room to give it a worldlier look...
Summon the Silver Screen
...Or you can emphasize the glamour of early Hollywood. The 1920s and 30s represented the golden era of the Silver Screen. It was a time when cinema came into its own, taking precedence over radio and books. Its preeminence in society naturally came to be reflected in the Art Deco style. Everyone wanted to live like a film star!
The fashions of early Hollywood could be found in any Art Deco home of the era. Neutral colours and subdued lighting reigned alongside lavish and shiny fabrics. If you want to mirror the early Hollywood style in your home, consider hanging fabric from the walls for an added theatrical quality. Or you can frame and hang some posters of some of the most acclaimed movies of the period, such as Casablanca or Metropolis, to really evoke the times.
Exaggerate opulence and you can’t go wrong
Once you understand what the Art Deco era was about – sophistication, extravagance, hope and decadence – you’ll find it easy to create a room that reflects the times. Anyone can achieve an Art Deco look. All you need is furniture and decorations that will mimic the brazen geometric designs of so long ago.
Finding Art Deco fashions is easy. In reality, an Art Deco living room should have the glamour and verve of a quintessential cocktail bar: slick, clean surfaces without texture, bold patterns, and startling ornamentations. You’ll want your guests to feel pampered and indulged. Do it right and they may never want to leave!
Richard Tarrant - Bio
Richard is founder and CEO of PictureStore and has worked since October 2000 to make wall art accessible to all Australians. Google+