You know what never goes out of fashion? Nostalgia. Nowadays, the 1990s are making a huge comeback, but there are plenty of inspiring decades to help you redecorate. Looking to build the perfectly repressed Victorian atmosphere in your living room? Say no more, we got the style tips to turn your petticoats inside out with. Would you rather only travel as far as the 20th century? Let’s pop the absinthe and head to Paris in the 1900s. With 2017 seeming more and more like the end of times, build yourself a time machine and stay aboard the Titanic as the band keeps playing with antique home decor.
Paris 1900 – 1920: Art Deco / Art Nouveau
Art Nouveau, “new art”, is a French style of decoration, art, and architecture created as a reaction to the overly academic nature of artistic production in the 19th century. Inspired by natural forms and shapes, Art Nouveau can be found in textiles, glass and metal works, ceramics, furniture, and many other antique home décor objects.
To recreate the look, you must accept that you are going for decadence and extravagance. Art Nouveau makes extensive use of iridescent glass and luxurious items, creating a sparkly menagerie with feathers, stylized animals, and grandiose curves. To stay elegant, this style requires muted walls in a palette ranging from grays to beiges and lilacs. Back in the day, overly intricate wallpapers were quite the rage, but you would risk having a visually polluted living room. If you are not going wild on furniture and decoration, feel free to create an accent wall. But keep your other walls as plain as possible! When picking your furnishings, keep an eye out for colorful glass, curved and straight lines that mimic tree trucks, and vintage ornaments.
A few decades later, the European elites got overwhelmed by all the excesses of Art Nouveau, giving rise to a new trend: Art Deco. In the beginning, Art Deco influencers sought out a return to simplicity, but the style eventually became complex and luxurious. Art Deco is one of the greatest influences in U.S. architecture, its features can be found in several prominent buildings – Empire State, Chrysler, Rockefeller, Guardian, Louisiana State Capitol, and many more.
The aesthetic can be translated to your living room with vintage furnishings and elements in rich, vibrant colors and symmetrical designs. Angular armchairs are a must-have, as well as pieces finished in ivory or jade hues. Art Deco is one of the main styles widely available in antique furniture and vintage décor shops, so you will have quite an easy time with this one.
London 1837 – 1901: Victorian Era
A time of demureness and industriousness, the Victorian Era holds sway over the collective imagination with its fine-tuned moral sensibility. While the Victorian Era evokes visual memories of frugality and somberness, there are plenty of influences that can add vivacity and character to your living room.
You can catch a case of the Gothics and draw inspiration from Frankenstein, Dracula, and Dorian Grey. Set the mood with textiles in deep, rich colors like burgundy, gold-brown, and dark green for your cushions, upholstery, and curtains. You can use textiles as vintage Victorian-inspired wall hangings, look for materials like tapestry, damask, and florals. As for the furniture, look for pieces that resemble ornately carved oak and mahogany. Victorians were wealthy from colonizing the rest of the world, but you are probably not – the operative word in antique home décor is resemble.
Although Victorians were circumspect, their décor style was exaggerated and rambunctious – you might want to practice restraint when decorating. But feel free to give it a steampunk flair for a more updated look by picking out a stylized clock or typewriter.
London 1558 – 1603: Elizabethan Era, The Golden Age of England
Here comes another epoch named after a magnificent queen, Elizabeth I, who was nicknamed “Oriana” (Latin for “Golden”) by her courtiers. The Elizabethan Era saw the peak of the English Renaissance in art and culture, most famously through the works of William Shakespeare. Thus, antique decorating ideas for an Elizabethan theme certainly need to bring the drama.
Pick out a living-room table set with very, very tall chairs, preferably with a straight back – no one said nostalgia was comfortable. Give your back a treat with a languid, luxurious divan. In classic Elizabethan fashion, choose medium and dark-golden hues for your curtains and upholstery. Try to find fabrics decorated with flowers and leaves. Classic Greco-Roman themes strongly inspired the aesthetics of the Renaissance, so pick out a few Greek sculptures and short columns to capture this elegant atmosphere. Keep your rooms with a limited amount of furniture, as the Elizabethans liked excess matched with purpose. If you have the budget, just go all out for paneled walls and you will have built yourself the perfect bunker meets time capsule.