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Steampunk used to be an “underground” movement that very few people knew about, but over the last few decades steampunk has become much more mainstream. Movies like Wild Wild West, Golden Compass and Sherlock Holmes have brought steampunk to the theater screen. Jules Verne, Mark Twain and H.G. Wells wrote literature that is often associated with steampunk. In fact, you have probably seen steampunk decor in several places, but you might not have known exactly what you were seeing.

 

What is steampunk?

Since it includes so many varied elements, steampunk can be tough to define. Essentially, steampunk is sub-genre of science fiction, speculative fiction, and fantasy that includes elements of the Victorian era, or other times when the use of steam-powered machinery was prominent. Steampunk often focuses on “rejected” or obsolete technology, such as analog computers or vehicles that are powered only by steam.

How does this translate into home decor? Steampunk decor features a Victorian vintage style mixed with retro or futuristic elements. The materials usually include brass, copper and metal, as well as leather and lace. Vintage watch faces and gears, exposed copper piping and other metal pieces are often used to create steampunk decor.

 

What can you do with steampunk?

From a room covered in gears and piping to the occasional steampunk clock or carefully-designed bookcase, steampunk can transform your home into something Jules Verne might have envisioned. If you’re just discovering steampunk and want to enjoy it without going overboard (yet), here are a few tips to get you started.

    • Books are a centerpiece of the style, so dedicate a bookcase to science fiction and fantasy, preferably in hardcover — better yet, go with leather-bound for most authentic look. The bookcase itself can be anything from heavy wood to an industrial cast-off that has seen better days.
    • Globes and old maps are an awesome addition to the steampunk look. Frame weathered old maps in simple frames and hang them on the wall. Look for globes that have been well-used.
    • Clocks that have open gears and a weathered look are great. Any type of gears can be used to incorporate steampunk; for instance, a large gear from a clock hanging on the wall can catch the eye, or you could use it as a trivet in the kitchen. The options are endless!
    • Ornate mirrors and leather-bound trunks are perfect for use in the bedroom.
    • Compasses, sextants, binoculars, telescopes and the like bring to mind exploration, time travel and science fiction set in an uncertain future. Scatter these around your home for steampunk impact.
    • Look for industrial lighting to complement the rest of your decor. Wide pendant lamps with ornate bulbs are a great way to light up the house with steampunk.
    • Think about things that relate to industry and use those for home decor. Gas station lights, propellers of all sizes, an old steering wheel and even parachute fabric can all be incorporated into your unique
    •  steampunk style.

Source: chblibraries.tumblr.com via BuildDirect on Pinterest

What if you’re not sure?

Steampunk often falls into the “love it or hate it” category. If you want to try out steampunk but you’re not sure how it will look in your home, test out a wall hanging or opt for steampunk-style bookends to bracket your science fiction collection. Gradually add pieces that catch your eye and then stand back and look it all over. Do you still love it as much as you did when you acquired the pieces? Do you love it even more? If so, you’ve become a steampunk junkie!

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Shannon Dauphin Lee

Shannon Dauphin Lee is a journalist and occasional novelist with a serious weakness for real estate. When she's not writing, she and her husband are taking road trips to explore covered bridges, little wineries and quaint bed-and-breakfast inns in their beloved Pennsylvania.