1920s Design: Art Deco Inspiration

Neo-Mayan Art Deco Medical Building, San Francisco

Maybe I’ve been watching too much Boardwalk Empire, but lately I’ve been fascinated with Art Deco from the 1920s. The “Roaring 20s” definitely had it going: affluent wealth, a growing entertainment industry and a boom in the economy. One thing easily recognizable thing from the early 1900s is its characteristic art deco style, a movement that influenced everything from art to architecture, and of course home décor. What did art deco look like, and how can you use it for your home decor today? Read on.

Art Deco: the basics

Art Deco was THE design of the 1920s. After the war, artists and designers developed an interest in geometrical shapes, bright colors and images from the “Machine Age”. It was a popular style of architecture–a surviving example is the Chrysler Tower in New York or the Vancouver City Hall. The spire is especially Art Deco: the repeating geometrical motif is typical of the style. Lines were straight and geometrical, but edges were rounded.

Inside the home, Art Deco was synonymous with lush and luxury. Floors were usually of polished wood, marble or terrazzo. This shine was accentuated by mirrored walls and polished brass or chrome fixtures. The furniture was made of dark wood or lacker, also usually polished to a shine. Fabrics and upholstery were chosen to increase the feeling of luxury: plush carpets, rich draperies and intricate sofas and chairs were popular.

The 20s was the age of dramatic lighting, with grand ceiling pendants reflecting light everywhere. The wall colors remained light and muted with colors like grey, pink, turquoise and peach.

Art Deco in your home

Art Deco has been a popular recurring theme in design and fashion since the 1960s. Today, with the variety of styles available, it’s not difficult to add a bit of 1920s design to your home.

In the kitchen, 1920s design shines through a polished floor, white or pastel cupboards, wood countertops and dark polished wood furniture. Accents in brass or chrome and archaic-looking accessories (an old kettle, antique pots and pans) finish the look. Add some lace or other rich fabric to your windows for a special touch.

In the bathroom, a geometrical tile pattern inspired by Art Deco is your basis for a 1920s-style decor. Keep everything light and clean: white or turquoise with ample mirrors and chrome faucets will do the trick. If you can find a bath on feet, even better!

The 1920s bedroom was all about luxury and comfort. Begin with a pendant lamp and dark furniture and add layers of clean geometrical shapes and contrasting colors. Black and white work particularly well, but you can also use any pastel color accented by a complemetary dark shade. Symmetry is essential.

In the Art Deco living room, everything is plush and luxurious. Sofas with geometrical upholstery, dark polished wood furniture and modern art are at the heart of the style. Put a rug with a geometrical pattern on a dark polished floor, add some mirrors on the walls and install a pendant lamp, and you’ll go straight back to the 1920s whenever you sit down to watch your favourite TV show.

Art Deco bits and pieces

Art Deco architecture 1920s II

The Park Lane Hotel in London England, designed by the architect Henry Tanner, was completed in 1927, when the Art Deco style was at its height. (image:mermaid99 )

If you’re not quite ready to redecorate an entire room, you can always add a touch of 1920s design to your home by adding a few carefully chosen accessories.

As mentioned earlier, pendant lamps are definitely a great choice to bring back the Roaring 20s to your home. It works particularly well in the dining room, but the bedroom is also a great spot.

Add a few cushions covered in a geometrical pattern to a plain sofa and a matching rug under the coffee table. This little detail will attract the eye and give an Art Deco feel to any room.

Put mirrors everywhere! The 1920s home was filled with mirrors in every room. Mirrors in interesting geometrical shapes with rounded corners will work especially well. Make sure there’s plenty of light to reflect in them.

For decorative items and knick-knacks, use chrome, brass or glass depending on the colors in the room. Beautiful brass figurines and accessories are actually quite fashionable right now, so you won’t have any trouble finding them in home decor stores. As long as everything shines and reflects light, you’ll have a great 1920s-style decor.

Are you a fan of Art Deco? How do you express that in your home decor? Share your decor tips and ideas with us!


1 Star2 Stars3 Stars4 Stars5 Stars (No Ratings Yet)


The BuildDirect Product Expert Team is here to support any questions you may have regarding your home improvement project.