EVERYTHING YOU NEED TO KNOW ABOUT ART DECO DECOR
Think Art Deco style is all about flappers and Gatsby pool parties? Think again. To pull back the curtains on this effusive style, we’re shining a spotlight on Art Deco design. From the vintage Art Deco chandeliers the Art Deco prints you’ll see repeated again and again (the Sphinx—who knew?), this guide will take Art Deco design from inaccessible to perfectly procurable.
THE ANATOMY OF ART DECO DESIGN
From the late 19th Century to the early 20th Century, the Art Noveau style was all the rage in Europe. Flush with natural motifs like sunrays and curly cue vines, Art Noveau was indebted to the symmetry of the natural world. Although the Art Deco movement borrowed from many of Art Noveau’s organic motifs, it factored in new and pointedly geometric ones like feathers, palm fronds, and other spire-like leaves. These Art Deco prints were used in excess on floors, walls, and vintage Art Deco furniture and Art Deco lighting. Floors especially, reaped the benefits of the trend, leading to marble and wood floors laid in dizzying, kaleidoscopic patterns. For those who weren’t in the market for entirely new floors, Art Deco rugs fit the bill nicely. Art Deco rugs showcased pulsing, rhythmic patterns (just check out any Chinese Deco rug for the world’s quickest demo).
Further differentiating Art Deco style from Art Noveau style was its penchant for the exotic. Thanks to burgeoning developments in air, water, and steam travel during the 1920s and 30s, globe-trotting became an on-the-regular activity for many. The result was a surplus of souvenirs from far-flung locales. To accent these pieces in the home, designers borrowed motifs from places like Egypt and Africa and used them to adorn built-ins and other architectural details. Among the most commonly used motifs of the era were pyramids, Sphinx heads, and slinky Safari cats like panthers and tigers.
Art Deco furniture also riffed off the worldly trend, incorporating exotic materials like dyed animal hides or tessellated bone. When on the hunt for Art Deco coffee tables, Art Deco desks, and Art Deco dressers, expect to run into the unexpected—be it a furniture piece finished in macassar ebony, shagreen, or lacquered goat skin. Also keep an eye out for vintage Art Deco chairs and Art Deco sofas upholstered in animal print textiles. Leopard and zebra were favorites of the era (some things never change, right?).
You’ll also find that the majority of vintage Art Deco furniture is dark in hue. Color palettes of the era ran in the direction of super-saturated hues like emerald, sapphire, crimson, and of course, the grand dame of drama: black and white.
ART DECO TRENDS WE’RE CURRENTLY LOVING
While we love the theatrical style of vintage Art Deco furniture, it can (admittedly) be a bit polarizing. Buy one piece of Art Deco furniture and it can leave you wondering what really matches with a vintage Art Deco sofa beyond an Art Deco chair, Art Deco coffee tables, and Art Deco chandelier? But with a little tweaking, we promise that a small dose of Art Deco style can be surprisingly easy to work into your space. To learn more about the low-key Art Deco-inspired trends we’re currently loving, read on!
Art Deco Wallpaper
The easiest way to get that speakeasy vibe? Wallpaper. Geometric Art Deco patterns are a fine match for the repetitious nature of wallpaper, making market options plentiful. While matte papers will work wonders, there’s something quintessentially Art Deco about a foiled or metallic paper. Look for dark-colored papers with Art Deco prints like crests, medallions, or diamonds stamped in golds or silvers to make your room worthy of star-gazing. Use them in conjunction with vintage Art Deco furniture, or let the paper work as the stand-alone Deco element in a modern room. Because Art Deco wallpapers tend to be busy, we recommend limiting them to a recessed nook or a powder room, but feel free to curate an accent wall with one if you fancy something a bit bolder.
Art Deco Bar Cart
Before you roll your eyes at our suggestion of an Art Deco bar cart, let us remind you that this multitasking cart actually got its start in the Art Deco era. In fact, it was the speakeasy crowd who refashioned the Victorians’ prim tea cart as a booze-happy trolley. While it’s true the bar cart’s been interpreted a thousand different ways since its post-new millennium reappearance, there’s no denying that, at its core, the bar cart is a true piece of vintage Art Deco furniture. To keep your cart feeling like a legitimate ode to Art Deco, opt for a cart in a chrome finish or a highly-polished wood (extra points for inlays!). Dress it with your favorite libations and the era’s natural-born icon: the coupe. Lastly, hang an Art Deco mirror over the top to reflect all of those pretty bottles of booze.
Art Deco Lighting
From Art Deco wall sconces to Art Deco chandeliers, lighting was of paramount importance in the Art Deco era—and it shows. Among the things we love most about Art Deco lighting is how easily it can merge with contemporary trends like subway tile and marble. A mini crystal Art Deco chandelier is an ideal way to add a touch of charm to a subway-tiled powder room. You might also consider a pair of Art Deco wall sconces flanking a chrome mirror. In a kitchen with marble countertops and wrought iron Art Deco chandelier will lend a French metro feel. And don’t forget about Art Deco floor lamps! Torchiere lamps are perfect for flanking a marble fireplace, and we love the idea of a brass globe Art Deco lamp in an entry or in front of a bay window.