When considering decorating rules for a 1930s style home, your mind will naturally gravitate to the Art Deco look, although obviously this is down to personal taste, and not totally necessary. Not everyone in this era was a fan of Art Deco, just as not everyone now is a fan of minimalist design, so it's important to work with a look that suits you as well as complements your home.
Modernism was another popular genre of decorating style in this period, which really started the continuing trend of clean lines and less ornaments, instead opting for a more streamlined and 'planned' look. Modern houses would not have featured panels of stained glass like art deco houses, so that is a clue to look for to help you plan your scheme.
A house from the thirties is something that is not only unique but can also be fun to decorate, and actually some of the decorating styles used in the 1930's are still in use today, as retro design is becoming more widespread. As an example, the first place you think of when planning to decorate is the walls. Wallpaper is enjoying a massive resurgence in popularity at the moment, with a lot more designs around than there were a few years ago.
Covering the Walls... and Ceilings
If you aren't a fan of wallpaper, and the walls of your home are pretty sound, then of course you can still stick to using paint to color your walls. Both Art Deco and Modernism styles opted for black, white, red, and silver. In fact if you are opting for the modernism look then color isn't going to be a huge consideration at all, we are definitely talking mere accent colors here with white walls. If you want to go down the Art Deco route for your walls though, the following colors are what you should be thinking about:
- All shades of cream and beige - coffee, mushroom, buff etc.
- Pale green
- Pale blue
Whether painting or wallpapering your rooms remember that mottled and speckled effects were very popular at the time, so you could always use this as an opportunity to use some paint effects on your walls.
To truly embrace the Art Deco decorating style, you could always opt to paint one of your ceilings silver for a striking yet authentic effect.
It might surprise you to learn that although the 1930s was full of such amazing looks and fashion, just like today they liked to recreate the past a little too - Tudor and Georgian were particularly popular. Good news for those of us that have trouble matching is that the eclectic look was very much embraced in this period. You can happily have a reproduction heavy wooden Tudor chair alongside a modern leather tubular steel one. For a more conventional look, opt for the 1930s invention of the three-piece suite (sofa with two arm chairs) that uses textured fabric -- truly authentic ones would have a woolen or velvety feel to them.
Incorporate leather seats into your home -- especially brown -- and you'll have a great look.
If you like heavy wooden furniture, but your budget doesn't stretch to the really good stuff then do as the guys in the thirties did and buy plywood versions with real wood veneer over the top.
Silk and satin look fabrics are the way to go for bed-coverings, whereas drapes should be heavy, quality fabrics that touch the floor.
Overall, dark wood and reflective surfaces are the way to go.
Even if you can't afford to completely recreate a 1930s interior, add some of these finishing touches to give a flavor of the era. If you're going the whole way with your decor then the finishing touches are what bring the scheme together.
- Any items made of Bakelite or chrome. Bakelite was a popular material used at the time, and you should be able to find some old-style telephones or light pulls that use them.
- Wooden boxes for storage.
- Clarice Cliff pottery. The real stuff is expensive, so just opt for something with a different name but the same style, or even try painting your own Clarice Cliff design onto some plain pottery.
- Incorporate some animal prints either as throws or cushions for an authentic feel.
- Wedgewood pottery was wildly popular in this period and is of high quality, but fortunately still produced today so shouldn't cost the earth to gain a piece or two.
- Mirrors featuring a sun design around the edge.
- Lamps with a globe shape.
As we've shown, decorating for a 1930s style home doesn't have to mean big expense or rushing out to buy pieces that were produced at the time. Use of color and a few statement pieces, with some finishing touches here and there are all you need to complete a satisfactory scheme.