Art Deco: Colours for Your Home

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Art Deco style has proved remarkably resilient as design inspiration for literature, fashion and much more. Whether you want to infuse a space with Art Deco-inspired colour or devote your whole house to the period’s palette-focused aesthetics, here are some basics about Art Deco colours.

In general, the Art Deco period lasted from the early 1920s to the late 1930s. It was rich and opulent — think sequins, polish, and saturated hues — and its influence had its biggest effect on art and architecture, particularly buildings such as the Empire State Building or Chrysler Building. Art Deco was modern and luxurious and drew some of its inventiveness from diverse sources: Egyptian art and archaeological discoveries all the way to new technology.

Classic Art Deco Materials

Many of the materials used in traditional Art Deco rooms and furnishings also lent inspiration to hallmark colours of the period. For example, polished or inlaid hardwoods with unusual graining or patterning — ebony, zebrawood — were often used in furnishings and fixtures, which led to deep, dark browns and shades of black on focal-point pieces.

Designers from the Art Deco period also relied heavily on metals such as bronze, brushed steel, and nickel. Those burnished surfaces appeared as accents and common motifs — think sunbursts, screens, and curves — as well as on a wide range of surfaces to provide an instant infusion of glamour.

Art Deco Colors

Statement-making colours of the Art Deco period relied on saturation and depth for impact. They included neutrals — lavish creams and taupes — as well as basics that popped — the blackest blacks, a stark white. Interest often came from the usual ways these colours were displayed or used, such as in checkerboards and in intricate patterns.

Additional Art Deco colours spanned the colour spectrum from reds to yellows, oranges, and purples, but all of them had a common intensity in hue.

Get an Art Deco Color Look in Your Home

How much Art Deco colour you want in your rooms depends on your personal approach to this distinctive decorating style. Try these ideas:

• Pair uniquely decorative patterns in rich neutrals. An almost monochromatic approach such as grey and beige help contrasting forms from becoming too visually jarring.

• Choose oversaturated colours — deep, dark walls, out-of-the-box furniture, heavy fabrics in fiery hues.

• Work in metallics. That might include a centrepiece element — a distinctively shaped coffee table, for example, or an over-the-top light fixture. Pick up the same metallic accents in other pieces including hardware and furniture legs.

• Add lustre through layers. Opulence equals Art Deco: To replicate the colourful look, try layering rugs, adding on extra accent blankets on a sofa or bed, or including double layers of window treatments.

• Stick to the basics. Dress up black and white with accents that offer period-appropriate patterns.

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