Art Deco style is characterised by flowing lines, lots of ironwork and walls accented by geometric designs and multihued painting. Art Deco enjoyed its heyday in the 1920s, and experienced mutual influence with the Arts and Crafts movement, although they remained distinct from one another. Today, Arts and Crafts design is more common and popular than Art Deco, but Art Deco can still be used to make a strong design statement.
Crown mouldings are decorative strips of wood that cover the joint between ceiling and wall. Art Deco interiors often feature elaborate crown mouldings designed in linear formats, with sharply contrasting horizontals and verticals. Broad crown mouldings, kept subtle by painting them the same colour as the ceiling or made prominent by being painted in multiple colours, can give an Art Deco feel to any room. Be careful to keep the crown mouldings in proportion with the room. An elaborate crown moulding that would look stunning in a ballroom would look overbearing and pompous in a small domestic space.
Much Art Deco furniture features broad expanses of veneer finished in glossy shellac. This minimalist, stripped-down appearance, similar in some ways to Arts and Crafts style, was, like Arts and Crafts, a reaction to the excessive overworked fussiness and decoration of Victorian style. Widely available quality veneers were a relatively new phenomenon in the 1920s, and so they gained a reputation as being synonymous with modernism and a rejection of the past. Armoires, sideboards and wall panelling all offer opportunities for the use of shellac-finished veneers. Shellac has been largely replaced by polyurethane and other plastic-based finishes, but can still be used for an authentic look in 1920s style.
Art Deco shapes and composition emphasise simple geometric shapes that stress upwardness and verticality. Given its emphasis on the modern, it is ironic that in this focus on the vertical, Art Deco echoed the Gothic Style of the 13th century. Art Deco style can be achieved in a domestic setting by the inclusion of furniture, wall decor and art that are high and narrow, and that incorporate elements that lift toward the ceiling. Examples of this would be tall, narrow paintings of urban scenes and skyscrapers, doors and windows that are tall and narrow, and colour schemes that are darker near the bottom and lighter near the top, thus emphasising the upper reaches of the room.
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