Although short lived, the art nouveau movement still leaves an imprint on design now. From the late 19th century until the early 20th century, designers and artists developed this style of design, decorative arts and style, incorporating sweeping, female contours. The movement aimed to be completely original, not mimicking anything from the past.
While the art nouveau style was acclaimed at first, its popularity quickly waned. Critics accused it of being overelaborate, lavish and expensive. The movement that followed, Arts and Crafts, addressed a number of those criticisms.
Despite this, art nouveau’s attractiveness is undeniable and is still valued today. Whether you’re seeking to genuinely embrace this look or simply add a touch or two, here are eight ways to work art nouveau style into your home.
Caroline Beaupere Design
1. Carved wood. Art nouveau artists, designers and craftsmen rejected traditional impacts, moving their designs toward an original and much more modern style. In the home, intricate carvings from the Victorian age gave way to a curvilinear look, together with sinuous lines and nature-inspired motifs.
Get this look: Replicate the style with an updated twist with the addition of moldings to newer furniture. Look for the local hardware store to get trimming pieces and use them to horizontal surfaces on tables, dressers or frames. Feeling really adventurous? DIY veterans can trace an art nouveau motif on wood and use a Dremel kit to carve out the details for an authentic period look.
2. Metalwork. The art nouveau style was immediately adapted for ornamental ironwork and cast metal, in which its undulating, asymmetrical and organic lines located favor with rich homeowners.
Get this look: Whether their work is either custom or prefab, ironwork professionals often provide art nouveau–style alternatives for your home. Look for brackets, railings, gates and other architectural elements. If you’re short on money, look for salvaged elements, which are often less expensive. Consider employing an antique gate to get a headboard or a piece of wall art.
Marsh and Clark Design
3. Stained glass. Artist Louis Comfort Tiffany helped bring art nouveau stained glass to mainstream interiors during this age. His curving, sinuous designs adorned windows, lamps and other lighting fixtures.
Get this look: It’s easy to think of glass as a traditional feature, but in the right program, it can work beautifully in modern and contemporary interiors. Look for the curving lines of art nouveau and apply the stained glass in limited applications — such as to get a light fixture or a window, as in this bathroom.
Red Rock Tileworks
4. Tiles. The latter half of the 19th century saw a decline in tile manufacturing. Compared to wallpaper, tile was expensive and hard to install. But the substance’s popularity resurged in the 20th century. Molded tiles together with art nouveau themes became readily available and less expensive.
Get this look: Art nouveau–style tile works nicely in modern and traditional homes. Don’t feel like you need to put up an entire wall of tile — small quantities can have a powerful effect when used sensibly. Pick a few to get a boundary accent indoors or outside your home.
Margo Downing Interiors
5. Textiles. Although art nouveau was lavish, it was often inspired by nature. Original art nouveau fabrics usually comprised blossoms and blossoms in woven or printed designs. In both muted and dark color palettes, these fabrics included rugs, rugs and window treatments.
Get this look: Textiles will be able to enable you to add just a touch of art nouveau or finish a top-to-bottom makeover. Look for nature-inspired fabrics, pillows or upholstery in muted color palettes with curving, wavy lines. If you’re looking for an unconventional means to work with fabric, consider hanging framed panels as art or even covering an entire wall.
6. Lighting. Art nouveau stained glass pendants, iron chandeliers, leaded glass Cabinets and acid-etched lampshades all represented the elaborate and organic-inspired patterns of the age. Mixed substances — usually metal and glass — were combined in feminine forms.
Get this look: Most decorating approaches can accommodate a touch of nouveau-inspired lighting. You don’t need to choose traditional or antique pieces to get the look. Sconces, pendants, chandeliers and table lamps with just a touch of curved iron or acid-etched glass can indicate art nouveau style with a more modern touch.
Graham & Brown
Diva Wallpaper, Beige – $85
7. Wallpaper. Cheaper and accessible than tile, wallpaper was a popular fixture in homes during the art nouveau period. Palettes may be bold or dull, all in the rhythmic patterns of the age.
Get this look: You don’t need to go far to find great art nouveau–style wallpaper now. The graceful lines are a favorite look with most major retailers.
Don’t rule out wallpaper if you don’t need the wall-to-wall look. Consider using it on a single accent wall, as matting for art, behind a collection of mirrors or as a remedy beneath a chair rail.
Reverie Print, circa 1897, by Alphonse Mucha – $35.99
8. Artwork. Printed bits are a touch of this art nouveau style, as it had been the very first design movement to mass create images for commercials, labels, posters and magazines. Many of those printed bits are available now in classic and reproduced forms.
Get this look: Check out swap meets, art fairs and antiques shops for some fantastic vintage finds. Reproductions are readily available, too.
If you’re searching to make a bolder statement, then locate a massive art nouveau–motivated stencil to use all on your ceiling or wall.
More: Art Nouveau Style Creates Verve With Curves