Showing posts with label design. Show all posts
Showing posts with label design. Show all posts

Friday, October 6, 2017

How to Decorate with the Art Nouveau Style

One of the things that has made me curious over the years is, "How do you decorate your living space in the art nouveau style?" And, "How do you do it if you can't afford the real thing?"

An original art nouveau interior in Sweden, 1905.

Not much reproduction art nouveau furniture has been made over the past few years, if any really. This I think is due to either cost and/or demand. Even though Mucha's art and lithographs of the art nouveau style are entering the public's awareness more and more, and people are becoming aware of the style, the mass "demand" for art nouveau style furniture just hasn't happened yet.

In my opinion, a lot of people still don't know what Art Nouveau is completely in its entirety but there has been a change in how many people are educated about it. More people than ever, I've noticed, are informed about the art nouveau style which is awesome. I think that with products at bookstores and the introduction of popular characters in the art nouveau style (like on t-shirts), more people have become exposed to the style.

What reproductions of the AN style there are though, are very limited. There are reproduction Tiffany lamps (from lillies to stained glass shades) which are not too hard to find, and reproduction mirrors, trinket boxes and photo frames also exist as well. If you search you can find Mackintosh style reproduction items but outside of those few things it can be very, very hard to find AN style pieces.

What you can do, outside of owning the real thing, is use Art Nouveau as decorating inspiration with the colors, patterns and art typical of that time period.

Note the themes of birds, flowers, a repeating border pattern on the wall, wood elements and the muted colors. (Image by O.Taris at wikicommons)

My personal advice is to pick some of your favorite Art Nouveau artworks and see what you like about them. Is is the colors, the curves, the plants? What stands out? And let that inspire and guide you.


When it comes to the Art Nouveau style there wasn't a lot of extremely bright or vivid/neon colors. Colors tended to be earthy, muted and usually in pale shades.

Take for instance, this art nouveau picture. If you pull the colors from it you will see the "earthy" colors:

There are purples and blues but they usually have gray mixed in with them. Not all artworks use colors like these, such as artist Leonetto Cappiello's, but quite a few do. Golden yellows, leafy greens, browns and rosey shades of pink all remind me of Art Nouveau. Pulling colors from AN artworks you like is a good first step in my opinion to getting the look you want. It doesn't mean you necessarily have to paint all of your walls harvest gold, but you can use those colors for accessories, household items or even create your own color palettes.

Wall Art

The next best thing, especially if you're on a budget, is to cover your walls in pretty art. Art prints aren't too expensive and you can frame them or hang them on your walls. You can print out your favorite pieces yourself or buy them online at art websites. Since original artworks of art nouveau from the 1890's-1910's are usually public domain, you can print them at your local print shop in any size you like. Hanging up prints is a good option, if you can't paint the walls or if you are trying to save. Plus prints can be admired by visitors and are good conversation starters.

Pattern by Rene Beauclair
Pattern by Rene Beauclair
A clipart picture from a Dover book on Art Nouveau design.
You can use images like these as a repeating stencil design.


Another option you have is to check out Art Nouveau patterns. No doubt a lot of AN style comes from intricate patterns, whiplash curves and winding botanicals. If you want to get crafty, you can take art nouveau pictures or clip art books, like the Dover vector series, and create stencils with the designs. You can stencil designs onto walls, furniture, fabric and more. This is a good way to get the look of Art Nouveau without having to pay for reproduction designs and you can choose the colors you want to use.

Lastly, check online websites like Craigslist or selling apps on your phone to look for AN style furniture pieces. Sometimes you may find pieces at a local thrift shop/charity shop or antique mall for a good deal. There may be real antiques from the art nouveau time period put up for sale so it may be worth your time to check it out. 

What are some things you've tried to get the Art Nouveau look in your home? Let me know below and any other suggestions you may have. Thanks!

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