How to Design an Art-Deco Bedroom

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Art Deco design grew out of the Art Nouveau movement in Paris at the beginning of the 20th century but spread over Europe and the Americas between World Wars I and II; it lasted as a popular interior design strategy until about 1945. The embellished materials and patterns left an indelible impression in geometric design shapes, luxurious and exotic furnishings and the opulent interiors of Hollywood sets. An Art Deco bedroom is a retreat and a fantasy, straight out of the cinema or a greystone duplex on the Seine.

Shape and Shine

  • Consider planes and palettes when redoing the bedroom in Art Deco design. The decor and architecture make frequent use of geometric figures and angles, stylized pictures and sculptures of cruise ships, airplanes, cars, skyscrapers, sunsets and sunrises, and exotic flowers. Experiment with mixing and matching mirrors, mirror tiles, chrome, glass, black onyx, granite and glossy lacquer, satins, silks, velvets, taffetas, African animal hides and gilt pyramids. Look for inspiration to Miami's South Beach Art Deco District and London's Savoy Hotel. Get out the faux fur comforter and the black satin sheets and channel Le Jazz Moderne in your boudoir.

Garbo Slept Here

  • Opt for over-the-top Hollywood glamour with a mirrored vanity -- not just the make-up mirror but the mirror over the entire table, legs and padded bench. A vanity could be wood inlaid with ivory and mirror tiles, chrome and glass, or very modern crystal-clear acrylic -- Lucite was developed in the 1930s and was pressed into service for nightstands, end-of-bed benches, vanities and chairs. Silky, shiny fabrics were pearlized powder-blues, whisper-grays, blush-pinks and creams, but vivid accents in lampshades, decorative pillows and chair cushions might be deep gem-tones: sapphire, lapis, peacock, emerald, amethyst and canary, like the diamond. African safaris had captured public imagination in the early 20th century, and zebra, tiger and leopard motifs were borrowed from animal hides and translated to bedspreads, drapes, carpets and upholstery.

Touch of Luxe

  • The tufted headboard is so Deco -- in velvet or in leather, and large enough to be showy, not discreet. A crystal chandelier, or two or three, wouldn't be out of place, but more modern shapes -- chevrons, rhombuses and stylized sunbursts might have replaced classic pendants and faceted crystal balls in Deco-era chandeliers. From the '20s to the '40s, carpet designs shifted from floral patterns to abstract and figurative angular blocks of line and color. Rugs were influenced by the Cubism of Picasso, the Expressionism and Surrealism of Klee, the Abstraction of Kandinsky. Plush Chinese-style Art Deco rugs depict classic medallions and traditional designs, reinterpreted with angular shapes, simplified backgrounds and intense colors, with some experimentation in linear shapes, color blocks and abstraction.

Sleep Like an Egyptian

  • The discovery of King Tut's tomb in 1922 unleashed a frenzy of Egyptian motifs in Art Deco design. Carved, woven, painted and embroidered scarabs, cats, serpents, palm fronds, reeds, lotuses and creatures from mythology invaded all Art Deco furnishings and fabric. A bedroom with a gold silk comforter, tasseled pillow shams with sphinx motifs, armless chairs balanced on carved snake legs, drapes in green and gold with stylized palm fronds, a frameless mirror in the shape of a pyramid and a black stone Bastet cat goddess sculpture pays homage to the Queen of the Nile and those golden pharaohs, sleeping for centuries in the African deserts. Upholster the chairs and the vanity stool with embroidered scarab damask and add touches of Egyptian gold in lamp bases and a dresser tray.

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