How to decorate with art deco designs

From the Roaring Twenties and Depression-ridden 1930s, came a sleek, elegant and opulent look that defined an era


Fun, escapism and optimism - never were these attributes better captured in design than in the period between the two world wars, which has come to be known as the art deco era. 

Having just left behind the terrors of the First World War, Europe and America were ready to dance, party and forget; to listen to jazz music and throw themselves into 'cocktails and laughter' as Noel Coward put it. What emerged was a creative outpouring with a buoyant spirit that stretched from art deco's birthplace in Paris to cities around the world. The design movement was unstoppable, quickly adopting the sleek lines and metal sheen of the fast-developing aeronautical industry and embracing the glamour and escapism of Hollywood

Defined by speed, dynamism and luxury, why not entice yourself to invest in some sleek art deco pieces with these seven easy decorating ideas? 

1. Keep your look cool and sophisticated with a moody grey decor to let rich wood, glass and marble materials sing out 

1930s burr walnut table, £1,200, The Old Cinema. ‘Fibonacci’ fire basket, £450, Chesney’s. Art deco vase by Whitefriars, £265; Art deco bronze Greyhounds, £2,850, both Jeroen Markies. ‘Victoire’ head sculpture, £740, Lalique. Silver German inkwell, £550, Grays Antiques. Antique French art deco marble clock and urns set, £325, Regent Antiques

2. Dynamic designs and formal furniture arrangements echo the ethos of art deco. Be confident and mix graphic prints and shapes for a statement salon-style lounge

Wallpaper ‘Side Car’ in ‘Onyx’ (FP409004), £184 per roll, Pierre Frey. Panelling painted in ‘Mole’s Breath’ Estate Eggshell paint, £55 per 2.5l; walls painted in ‘Calamine’ Estate Emulsion paint, £39.50 per 2.5l, both Farrow & Ball. ‘Rothley’ loveseat sofa in ‘Scala Velvet’, £999, Marks & SpencerOn loveseat: Cushion covered in ‘Desire’ (9-7714-091), £166.30 per m, Jab Anstoetz. Lacquered cocktail cabinet, £4,800; Epstein art deco side chairs, £2,450 (for the pair), both Jeroen Markies. ‘Brompton’ coffee table, £4,766, DecorusOn coffee table: Bronze hoop dancer by Preiss, £425, Regent Antiques. ‘Manhattan Geo’ bowl, £22, Curious Egg. Match striker, £550, Guinevere. Silver cigarette box by Mappin & Webb, £450, Grays Antiques. Perfume bottle (used as a vase), £850, for set of three, Guinevere. Czechoslovakian stepped wine glasses, £480, Gazelles of Lyndhurst. ‘Malachite’ coasters, £78 for four, Jonathan Adler. Art deco-style side table, £380, Gazelles of LyndhurstOn side table: ‘Desmo’ speed nymph car mascot figure, £395, Jeroen Markies. Lamp, £2,130, The Design Gallery. Wall light, £108, Neptune. ‘Harlow’ rug by Esti Barnes, £4,488, Top Floor 

3. Make a walnut display cabinet work in your home today by using a strong backdrop of wallpaper. Allow space inside to curate a collection of old and new glassware, sculpture and objects

Wallpaper ‘Side Car’ in ‘Onyx’ (FP409004), £184 per roll, Pierre Frey. Figured walnut display cabinet, £1,375, Regent Antiques. Inside cabinet: Perfume bottle used for flowers, £850 for three, Guinevere. ‘Victoire’ head sculpture, £740; ‘Mustang’ vase, £585, both Lalique. Josef Lorenzl ‘Bella’ bronze figure, £2,950; antique Lalique ‘Cytise’ small vase, £1,250, both Jeroen Markies. Century Hotel model, £195, Chisel & Mouse. ‘Futura’ malachite black vase, £198, Jonathan Adler. Epstein art deco side chair (one of a pair), £2,450 (for the pair), Jeroen Markies 

4. Throw a cocktail party with panache. Load an Asian-influenced bamboo trolley with Ziggurat glassware and shakers with gold accents

Vintage-style drinks trolley, £375, Out There Interiors. Curtain made in ‘Quartz Velvet’ in ‘Rose’ (ZREV331611), £107 per m, Zoffany. On drinks trolley: antique mirrored vase, £280, Alfies Antique Market. Palda or Posselt deco engraved and enamelled decanter, £325; Val St Lambert deco smokey plum decanter with shot glasses, £455, both Richard Hoppé. Barbell barware set, £198; ‘Malachite’ ice bucket, £198; ‘Malachite’ and ‘Newport’ decanters, £198 each; ‘Malachite’ glass, £25, all Jonathan Adler. 20th-century glass bowl vase, £120, Alfies Antique Market. Czechoslovakian stepped wine glasses, £480, Gazelles of Lyndhurst 

5. Pick luxurious maple wood pieces in a classic art deco cloud design to take centre stage in your dining space. Decorate with wallpaper in small areas using light tones to keep the scheme fresh

Wallpaper ‘Chrysler’ (F6862-03), £64 per roll, Osborne & Little. Panelling painted in ‘Cornforth White’ Estate Emulsion paint, £39.50 per 2.5l, Farrow & Ball. Cloud table and chairs by Epstein, £5,950, Gazelles of LyndhurstOn table: antique Lalique ‘Actinia’ vase, £3,350; antique Lalique ‘Jaffa’ bowl, £485, both Jeroen Markies. ‘Nixon’ cake stand, £228; ‘Newport’ decanter, £198, Jonathan Adler. ‘Concord Square’ dinner plates by Kate Spade, £20 each; side plates by Kate Spade, £20 each, all John Lewis. Czechoslovakian stepped wine glasses with jug, £480, Gazelles of Lyndhurst. Rose gold cutlery 16-piece set, £99, John Lewis. Wall light, £108, Neptune. ‘Crawford’ rug by Esti Barnes, £2,248, Top Floor

6. A grand headboard with adjoining cabinets stands handsomely against exotic animal prints. Velvet-covered furniture and sensuous silk bed linen enhance the feeling of unabashed opulence

Wallpaper ‘The Duke’ in ‘Panther’ (LW057/007), £61.95 per roll, Linwood. Walls painted in ‘Purbeck Stone’ Estate Emulsion paint, £39.50 per 2.5l, Farrow & Ball. Headboard with bedside cabinets by Epstein, £1,900, The Design Gallery. ‘Primrose’ double divan bed base in Linwood ‘Omega’ velvet in ‘Brass’, £995; mattress, £545, both Button & SprungOn bed: ‘Portico’ duvet cover and two pillows, £90, Christy. Silk pillows, £55 for two, Soak & Sleep. Square cushion and bolster made in ‘Quartz Velvet’ in ‘Rose’ (ZREV331611), £107 per m; piped in ‘Birodo’ in ‘Smoke’ (ZEDO332415), £78, both Zoffany. Rear cushion covered in ‘Indra’ (J895F-07), £57, Jane Churchill. Piped as before. ‘Jindrich Halabala’ armchair (one of a pair), £1,575 (for a pair), The Old Cinema. ‘Desert Sand’ rug, £9,056.50, Tufenkian. Ottoman, £185, The Dormy House. Ottoman upholstered in ‘Walter’ in ‘Usine’ (F3109001), £220.80 per m, Pierre Frey. On bedside cabinet: antique Lalique ‘Cytise’ vase, £1,250, Jeroen Markies. Art deco shagreen and tortoiseshell box, £1,500, Guinevere

7. Create a Gatsby-style look with an embroidered screen and a sunburst motif mirror. Add accents of dove, charcoal and silver with delicate shell pink for an elegant look  

Screen, £195, The Dormy House. Screen covered in ‘Gatsby’ fabric in pink (J904F-01), £85, Jane Churchill. Art deco-style side table, £380, Gazelles of LyndhurstOn side table: antique French bottle, £450, Guinevere. 1930s atomiser, £165; Czech WWI Renault tank bottle, £335, both Richard Hoppé. Sunburst mirror, £150, Laura Ashley. Century Hotel model, £195, Chisel & MouseOn bath rack: antique perfume bottles, £850 for three, Guinevere. Gold perfume bottle, stylist’s own, find similar at John Lewis

The full feature on decorating with art deco appeared in the October issue of Homes & Antiques. Back issues are still available. To purchase a copy click here


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