How to get an Art Deco Kitchen


You and Jay Gatsby share a sense of style, so your kitchen update has to reach back in time for the bold and curvy glamor of the Art Deco era. Art Deco is short for the wave of interior design and architecture influenced by the 1925 Exposition Internationale des Artes Decoratifs et Industrial Modernes in Paris that featured sensuous and streamlined shapes in both luxurious and machine-age materials. Celebrate that jazzy world in a kitchen that even a frivolous flapper couldn't resist.

Eyes Have It

  • Color and texture are critical in decor that's all about the lines. Know your Art Deco materials and palette when redesigning your kitchen. Metallics, metallic undertones and attention-grabbing pastels are hallmarks of the style. Coral, beige, creamy honey, shades of gray -- many of them silvered, cranberry, pine, mauve, ocean liner-blue, gold, burnt orange, patent leather-black, and a whole range of whites works for cabinet colors, counter accessories, wall color -- even appliances. Smeg still makes a rounded enamel fridge that's retro enough to be a conversation piece. Look for period-style appliances in cherry red, sea green, buttercup yellow, rich mint and other evocative shades. Default to chrome fixtures and faucets and pick up the shiny silver with an accent wall covered in silver and Nile-green wallpaper, repetitively patterned in stylized Egyptian sunbursts.

Then and Now

  • Meld modern and historic to get the best of both worlds in your kitchen. Contemporary cabinet materials such as Corian can be shaped into gleaming curves for an Art Deco-inspired kitchen island and sleek cabinet doors. Add squared chrome or brushed steel hardware to emphasize the authentic look, and set appliances in matching metal into the cabinetry. Highlight plenty of geometric shapes: cabinet ends sweep around corners in show-off curves; suspended overhead lighting is squared; two-tone green glass tile backsplashes are bisected by an inset tile border of small square tiles in random Art Deco colors. Black granite counters and black veneer cabinets gleam with steel hardware; metallic silver and polished black wallpaper above the counters packs a real visual punch in a retro chevron pattern.

The Light Fantastic

  • Chandeliers, pendants and wall sconces light up the Art Deco kitchen with distinctive profiles that rely heavily on the geometric. A chrome column, stacked like an upside-down pyramid, surrounded by etched glass upturned cups that hold light bulbs, is a classic Art Deco chandelier in white frosted glass, or a surprising but true-to-the period pink. Pair the pink one with a pink enamel fridge or stove. A couple of sconces, designed with spare-as-ships'-hardware, semi-circular, open bronze frames encompassing carmelized glass quarter bowls, illuminate the breakfast nook in style. A line of identical colored glass or industrial enameled pendants marching across the island or work counter might pick up a color from a retro-style mixer or toaster, or a framed poster of an ocean liner or the Chrysler building.

Geometry Underfoot

  • Linoleum was a cool and modern kitchen floor upgrade back in the day when Art Deco defined hotel lobbies and ocean liner state rooms. Kitchens got the full blast of the environmentally friendly floor covering with stark black-and-white checkerboard patterns, cubist geometric 3-D chevron illusions, or colored spiral swirls on cream or white backgrounds. Linoleum was and is a safe, renewable and durable floor covering that provides some "give" and cushion and is very forgiving of splats and spills. Wood or ceramic tile herringbone patterns are alternative Art Deco floor options to add from the bottom up. The glazed tiles may be a simple two-color contrast of complementary hues. A variety of light and dark wood tones defines an intricate, upscale herringbone kitchen floor.

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