The definition of steampunk style takes its name and inspiration from an era when steam was a primary source of power. Steampunk combines elements of Neo-Victorian style, retro-futuristic components and science fiction. Think metal, gears, leather and lace all rolled in to one past-meets-present style.
Part history and part imagination, steampunk creates a futuristic "past that never was," combining classic antique clocks, gears, fabric and accessories with modern, edgy touches (hence the addition of "punk"). While you won't always find steampunk style accessories in your average home store, online retailers like Amazon.com often feature plenty of steampunk decor options. Many people also incorporate steampunk into their fashion and lifestyles as well as their home.
Elements Of Steampunk
Steampunk is a deeply imaginative decorating style and doesn't have lots of strict rules. It does contain some basic elements that seem to be common in most steampunk style homes. These basics should help you get started:
Natural materials: Use materials such as copper, iron, wood, cork, leather and glass to help achieve the retro feel of this design style.
Old technology: Prominent displays of gears, cogs, locomotives, airships, exposed copper plumbing, watch parts, chains and vintage machinery will give your home a distinct steampunk feel.
Victorian era touches: Lace, vintage vases and anything else Victorian are an essential part of steampunk décor. Additionally, because a common trend during Victorian times was to try to control and categorize nature, anatomical diagrams and nature collections work well in steampunk room design.
Alternate history: In keeping with the idealized science fiction/"path not taken" steampunk theme, include items such as analog computers, digital mechanical computers, dirigibles or time machines.
In keeping with its retro-mechanical feel, the steampunk palette is subdued, muted and leans toward autumn hues. Harsh or bright colors don't belong a steampunk style home. Try some of these shades in your steampunk design:
Warm browns and sepia tones
Brass, silver, gold, copper and other metallic shades
Steampunk Window Treatment Ideas
The Victorian influence of steampunk style gives you lots of opportunities for graceful window treatments that will transport you to a different time and place. You might want to try:
- Heavy curtains with simple lines for a strong, masculine look
- Try velvet curtains in deep red or even black.
- Lacy or brocade curtains also work if you'd like the room to be more feminine. Balance them with brass industrial-looking curtain rods.
- Metallic trim and tassels cement the steampunk style for your windows. Incorporate gears, chains and industrial piping wherever possible.
Steampunk Wall Art
A few well-chosen touches for your walls will really enhance your steampunk design. Some of these steampunk wall-art ideas may work well in your home:
- Framed technical drawings of old machines, airships or anatomical studies.
- Wall clocks with visible gears. These are a huge part of steampunk design and will be the easiest to find and decorate with.
- Metal wall art made from machine pieces such as cogs or gears
- Framed butterfly, insect or other nature collections.
- Remember to mix harsher industrial frames with classically ornate Victorian frames to balance the two just right.
Steampunk Accessories & Accents
Little extras and accent pieces help cement your steampunk decorating statement, or allow you to test out this home decorating style before buying all new furniture and decor. Here are some great ideas for accessories to polish your steampunk theme:
Goggles: As a recurring steampunk theme, goggles arranged on shelves, on your coffee table or even mounted on the wall are practically a requirement of this style.
A metal or wooden hat rack: Use it to display a vintage leather aviator's cap, top hat, bonnet, antique gas mask or other Victorian era headwear.
Clocks: Mechanical clocks are another signature theme of steampunk décor. Display clocks that wind up and have visible gears.
Hourglasses: Classic glass and sand timekeepers are perfect for topping a desk or table.
Soft retro-style lighting: Illuminate your rooms with brass lamps, gas lanterns and candlelight. For a quick and inexpensive steampunk lighting fixture, remove the lampshade from a floor or table lamp and replace the modern bulb with an "Edison bulb," featuring prominently exposed wiring inside the glass. Leave the lampshade off, displaying your "antique" light bulb. Just be sure never to touch the hot bulb once it's on!
Antique electronics, gadgets and machines: Display antique radios, cameras on tripods, barometers, telescopes and sextants.
Vintage sewing or fashion accessories: Feature a Victorian dressmaker's dummy with a gown and parasols, canes or shoes. To keep it steampunk rather than purely Victorian, add leather and metal accessories to the classically feminine ensemble.
Steampunk Home Furnishings
You've got lots of options for home furnishings that will enhance your steampunk theme. Solid, well-made pieces of dark wood and metal are generally favored. Here are some furniture choices that work well in a steampunk-style home:
- Brass beds with headboards
- Dark wooden chests
- Brass and copper shelves or tables, with or without a patina finish
- Dressers and chests with lots of tiny drawers, mimicking the look of classic industrial storage.
- Vintage white bedroom furniture with gold leaf trim
- Tufted leather sofas and chairs
- Bookcases with lots of old, hardcover books
- Cabinets with glass-covered displays containing carefully arranged collections of fossils, butterflies, insects or birds' eggs.
Making What's New Old Again
Even though you might really want the fantasy-retro atmosphere of steampunk for your home, you probably aren't willing to give up modern conveniences such as your television, computer and iPod dock. Don't worry -- Designing a steampunk home doesn't require giving up the comforts of this century. Most steampunk decorators choose one of two approaches for dealing with modern technology at home:
- Out of sight-out of mind: Store modern conveniences that don't fit with steampunk décor behind cabinet doors, in drawers, in closets or otherwise out of sight.
- Give new gadgets a retro look: Rework your favorite modern items to give them that steampunk look. You might want to exchange your computer keys for antique typewriter keys, reframe of your computer or TV screen in copper, or glue a design made of gears on your iPod. Check online stores like Amazon.com for steampunk accessories to dress up your cell phone, computer, Mp3 player and more.
When it comes to steampunk design, creativity has no limit and imagination is more important than rules. So have fun! Check out thrift stores, antique shops and garage sales for retro and one-of-a-kind items you can reuse and rework to enhance your steampunk style.
This article was originally posted on IdealHomeGarden.com
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