How to Incorporate Art Nouveau into Your Home

Art nouveau was originally seen as a very modern style, turning its back on traditional designs and moving towards a more modern ethos of art and design. It was one of the first styles to use mass production techniques and industrial methods to create pieces. Art Nouveau came from the Arts and Crafts movement, and features stylised designs of flowers, birds, animals and insects. Glass and iron were commonly used in art nouveau, bringing the cost of decorating in this style, down and accessible to the middle classes.

Who can incorporate art nouveau?

Art nouveau works well in contemporary interiors, and is a favourite style for people to collect, whether it’s furniture, jewellery, artwork or other accessories. Despite the ornamentation of its decorative features, art nouveau is actually very simple and uncluttered. Having said that, the style works perfectly with period interiors.

Walls and colours

Painted walls provide the simple backdrop needed to show off your art nouveau ‘objets d’art’. Both pale and jewel colours can be used to enhance beautiful decorative designs.

Typical colour schemes include:

  • Mutual natural tones such as gold, mustard, olive green, brown, sage green
  • Turquoise, green, peacock blues
  • Cool purples, pale lilacs and mauves (often with whites)
  • Salmon pink, sea green and duck-egg blue

If you want to use wallpaper, go for a stylised nature design, with elegant long and sinuous curves. For example, tendrils of foliage would work well.

Flooring

Polished and varnished parquet flooring will provide a more authentic art nouveau feel, especially if you add elegant, nature inspired rugs.

If you want carpet, stick to a single colour and add decorative rugs to recreate an art nouveau theme.

Furniture

Furniture itself wasn’t a major point of art nouveau interior design. Many people would still have used their simple, high quality and well made furniture from the arts and crafts movement.

A good way to bring art nouveau to your furniture is by using stylised botanical fabric for your upholstery or cushions.

Ensure you don’t pick up any old-fashioned ‘ditzy’ floral patterns, which would ruin the look.

Stained glass

Stained glass was extremely popular in art nouveau, with it frequently being included in:

  • Panels in wardrobes, cabinets and cupboards
  • Windows
  • Door panels

Rich jewel colours were used, along with the iconic S-curve. Typical art nouveau motifs included dragonflies, flowers, birds and feathers.

The best known glass designer of the art nouveau period was Louis Comfort Tiffany, where Tiffany lamps come from. There are many art nouveau lamps that follow this style, as well as modern lamps, so you can easily replicate the look.

Ornaments

Art nouveau interiors displayed a large variety of statues and ornaments made of pewter, silver and glass, and set with semi-precious stones. Exquisite glassware is synonymous with the period, and glass vases are a great way to incorporate elegant designs and flowing curves.

If you’re looking to collect art nouveau glassware, look for pieces by Emile Galle and Rene Lalique.

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