With the constant evolution of interior design, contemporary home design offers a variety of styles to choose from—modern, classic, rustic, bohemian, retro, Scandinavian, vintage, etc.- befitting the personal taste of the homeowners. When your home spaces like the living room, bedroom, conservatory, etc. reflect YOU, that design style is the most suitable one and the interior decorators vouch for the same. Creating an expressive style could be truly challenging, and mastering unusual designs that express the personality & taste of the home-owner is an art. One such unconventional style of interior design & decor is the steampunk style that has been used for a while now, though not very widely known. Steampunk decor seems somewhat odd & peculiar but has quite a number of followers, and this article offers a glimpse into the fascinating world of this unusual style.
So what is steampunk decor? This decor trend draws from a harmonious mix of the elegant Victorian interior accessories and the humble strength of industrial elements. The late 1980s are when the word steampunk made its first appearance in a letter written to the Locus Magazine by the science fiction author K. W. Jeter who was looking for an apt term to define his work. Later in 1992, the writers William Gibson & Bruce Sterling introduced the terminology and genre with their work. Their inspiration was in the Industrial Revolution of 1885, and their work depicted the constant struggle between the acceptance of “modern” technology and the constant irrational fear of its implications. This starting point created a trend that evolved into something more than a sub-genre of science fiction & fantasy, defining a lifestyle for some people today. The Victorian British Empire forms the main backdrop for steampunk projects that focus on reviving what many might consider junk, assessing unconventional compositions which exude a raw but strangely elegant & appealing theme.
It is the best to treat your home like a blank canvas prior to the design process, on which the chosen materials will add the jazz of steampunk decor. The steampunk style originated from the industrial revolution, so it is only natural that copper be the primary material hogging the limelight. Rust tones & turquoise insertions recreate a rich vibrant atmosphere that can be taken as the foundation for the interior design. Employing actual vintage copper might be expensive but affordable solutions exist for obtaining aged copper finishes to offer that extra edge.
Next most frequently used among essential elements for the steampunk style is the exposed brick wall. Also used in Scandinavian decor styles, exposed bricks inject a raw texture into the scene and serve as the perfect neutral backdrop for desired furniture arrangements.
Leather forms yet another essential part in steampunk design ideas. Not only comfortable, but also amply elegant, leather enhances the luxury quotient of your home. The Chesterfield leather sofa is a classical furnishing element invariably adorning the most inspiring steampunk rooms.
Since the steampunk decor style originated during the industrial revolution, it follows that the presence of exposed copper pipes as steampunk design elements is implicit. Transformed into decorative pieces, these pipes are mostly used to create lighting fixtures with striking aesthetic effects.
However, the bold industrial tones so typical to the steampunk style are the reason many people shy away from employing the design ideas reflecting this style. Steampunk decor usually needs bold hues which create an intense & powerful background for all sorts of industrial gadgets like gears & pipes used for lighting fixtures and as decor pieces. A large number of home-owners consider such tones to be too loud & inappropriate for the light, soothing palette decking up their snug interiors.
A steampunk composition in your interiors works the best when the furniture, accessories and lighting are in harmony with the decor pieces and the palette. An easy to achieve DIY style, steampunk has some tacit rules to get the perfect look. Choosing among the muted neutral shades of brown, cream, dark red, black and dark green, metallic colors or color combinations of the said tones, as per the room, works really well.
Old refurbished furniture is a proven way to add oodles of special charm to any home. If you wish to create a steampunk style at home, it is better not to buy new furniture unless it is specific to the Victorian era. Although variations are available, all pieces of quintessential steampunk furniture boast of a rather raw, rough edge typical to the industrial style, with plenty of metallic insertions, strange unconventional shapes and up-cycling ideas, old gears & belts. Another key aspect of steampunk decor is old chests that can be easily transformed into graceful coffee tables, side tables or no-frills storage solutions. Old trunks and vintage suitcases oftentimes have a sentimental value, due to which their vintage appeal is generally incorporated into steampunk decor.
If the structure of the building does not allow for an exposed brick wall, wallpaper depicting bricks is a good idea. Further, wallpaper, decals or wall murals can be conveniently created using old maps- simply frame and hang them on the walls. Another great idea is to decorate the lampshades with old maps. Remember: the older, the better! Wallpapers or self-painted motifs with a Victorian pattern/ classical old-world book characters are not bad either.
Items with a characteristic Victorian essence like an old & used terrestrial globe, classy top-hats or bowler hats, canes or a Victorian dress for the mudroom wall hooks, antique sewing tables, old steamer trunk to be used as a living room table, exposed framed herbariums for the hallway, sepia photos for the walls, technical & anatomical drawings/ sketches and antique barometers, telescopes or typewriters are wonderful examples of decor items for steampunk style. Displaying old hard-covered books and old notebooks with leather covers can also make a mighty style statement if arranged tastefully. Creating a metal pipe bookshelf is a smashing idea to display the old books in an elementary industrial style that is quite easy to handle as well.
Textural contrasts by combining a hard material like leather with a soft one like lace goes a long way in achieving the typical steampunk design idea. So, it is safe to say that a good deal of the visual appeal of steampunk comes from the juxtaposition of conventionally feminine & masculine elements.
Gears are important items in the steampunk style, and a gear wall clock is a nice way to unleash some creativity. Decorating the walls with gear wall clocks is another of DIY steampunk design elements. An old clock with exposed gears conveys an honest design and can be the focal point on an otherwise blank wall. Old gears can also be used to create & display numerous industrial art decor pieces that fit perfectly into the aspired style.
Last but not the least, artificial light is a key feature to go with the steampunk style of decor. After all, one cannot appreciate the beauty of a rust red room with dark leather furniture & a multitude of old touches in the absence of light. Warm lighting transforms the space, softening edges, molding surfaces, adding powerful contrasts & delicate shadows and thereby making the room much more welcoming. Steampunk design tends to drift onto the rough zone and this is where artificial lighting comes in to balance the look. A chandelier is a good idea if you have high ceilings. Candelabra chandeliers are a great option as they bring in Victorian hints of luxury and comfort too.
Although the steampunk style falls in the lesser known category of interior decor styles, its basic defining details, bringing together the best of the Victorian era with all the inventions back then and the charming industrial suggestions, lend this style its very unique character. Ranging from powerful, over the top creations to more modest, subtle & possibly more appropriate for a cozy home, the steampunk decor elements like this beautiful lamp offer a multitude of fetching options to jazz up your living spaces on a budget.