Interior Decorating Styles – Part Five – The 20th and 21st Century

Knowledge is power. And hopefully, after reading this fifth and final part of the series on interior decorating styles you feel empowered to shop with confidence, speak to a decorator or designer, or to attempt your own decorating project on your own. I believe that when a person knows their preferred decorating style it will allow them to proceed with confidence. You'll notice I say preferred style because I also believe everyone is drawn to more than one decorating style. However, your preferred style should be the one that dictates your decisions concerning big ticket items.

In part five we will conclude the series by taking a peek into the 20th and 21st century.

In the Early 20th century there were a number of revivalist styles, but the 2 styles that were prevalent were Art Deco and Modernism. The term Art Deco was coined in 1925. The style was derived from works from the early 20th century art movements of Cubism, Expressionism, Futurism, and from African and native South American art. Prior to the mid 1920s, Art Deco was characterized by rounded and romantic motifs like garlands and rosebuds, but during the late 1920s and 30s, those round motifs were replaced by abstract and geometric motifs. In a nutshell, Art Deco is best recognized by clean lines and smooth planes in walls, ceilings, and with contrasting colored walls and woodwork and textiles with geometric or bold floral patterns. The furniture was generously upholstered and veneered with fine wood.

The Modernist style of architecture and decoration was wholeheartedly adopted on both sides of the Atlantic between the 1st and 2nd world wars. Modern design avoided using unnecessary ornaments and highlighted the industrial origins of modern building material, furniture, and textiles. In a Modern space you would not see displays of bric-a-brac or knick knacks in.

The Modernism style included elements such as chrome and glass furniture and pale walls and ceilings. The curtains were abstract or geometric patterned and carpets were often laid over parquet floors. Hi-rise apartments or lofts are typically decorated in the Modern Style. These types of spaces usually have floor to ceiling windows and exposed material like metal pipes and are very sparsely decorated. The idea is to have as much unobstructed space as possible. One drawback is that these spaces can also come across as cold and uninviting.

During the late 20th century and 21st century, since the end of the 2nd World War, there have been 2 outstanding trends in interior design and decoration: one terribly Retrospective and the other basically Futuristic. So, in essence, the late 20th and early 21st century is both looking back to decorating styles for inspiration as well as reaching forward to improving upon what is already there and developing new ideas. Classicism, in all its varying interpretations, has been the most enduringly fashionable and least faddish style of the late 20th and early 21st century. In addition, significant and successful reproductive reinterpretations or recreations of just about all the styles have been made even more doable by the response of manufacturers and importers. And, people who live in period homes today are beginning to restore and decorate them in the original period style.

Probably the style talked about most these days is Contemporary. That is because Contemporary simply means today or current . In actuality, any style can be interpreted as Contemporary by using current day materials. I often like to consider Contemporary an application or interpretation rather than a style in and of itself.

I could not tell you every decorating detail but I did tell you enough to give you a good working knowledge of the contributions offered to the decorating industry over the centuries. I hope you feel enlightened and empowered as you approach your next decorating project.

© Rena Bullard 2010

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