Steampunk Decor - from String Lights to Furniture
By Steampunk Origins | Updated Oct 09, 2019
The ideological essence of steampunk lies in the version of civilization development based on steam engines. Logically, the influence of steampunk was manifested not only in fiction but also in architecture, design, and interior. The image of the constant struggle between the adoption of new technologies and the fear for its consequences has resonated in the hearts of many people. Gradually, steampunk became a genre in the world of science fiction and lifestyle for its admirers.
Steampunk, essentially, represents a past that speaks of the future. At the same time, it "coexists" with brutality and romance, coziness, and inaccessibility of museum exhibits. This article invites you to get acquainted with this unique style and possibilities of its use in exterior/interior decor. Experts define that steampunk can be a separate style but it also can be used as a supplement to vintage, urban, science fiction, industrial, retro, futuristic, and modern styles.
The color of the steampunk is matured in brown tones, from dark beige to almost black. Many details are painted in order to imitate copper and brass. According to the color scheme, the illumination is also chosen, the main requirement for which is warm and muted tones. The top class in steampunk is an imitation of scattered yellowish light of gas lamps, as a rule, high-pressure gas discharge lamps are used for this purpose.
Steampunk's style wouldn't be so popular among modern interior designers if it only included mechanisms - that's just the tip of the iceberg. The secret of steampunk's attractiveness lies in its combination with elegant and chic jewelry, including Victorian style.
As designers sometimes say, a house in the style of steampunk risks turning into a museum. Indeed, a variety of items from a past life are applied as decorations - everything from nuts and bolts to pistons, valves, and maps.
According to observations, steampunk-stylized houses and apartments are inhabited by romantic and creative people, often called physicists and lyricists, which does not prevent them from being original and brave. Often, things like typewriters or landlines can only be found in such houses.
Not everyone will feel comfortable surrounded by mechanisms, leather, and rusty metal. Therefore, if you want to "moderately" use this style in your decor, you can limit yourself to the use of 1 (or more) ingredient from the following list.
- The combination of technology and natural simplicity.
- All modern pieces of furniture are stylized as antique, painted in copper and covered with wood.
- Only natural materials are used.
- Original decoration items like maps with treasure marks, gearwheels, compasses, etc.
- Walls can be covered with metal or wood imitating the inside of a submarine or steam engine. Sometimes a natural stone or brick is also allowed.
- Backlighting is very important. Lighting is by no means created by modern lighting fixtures - they are stylized as gas lamps or Victorian sconces. The light should not be bright.
- Antique items such as gramophones, typewriters, vintage phones, and copperware are essential. Metal pipes, arches, columns, and niches are also obligatory.
Among small items that are ideal for creating a style of steampunk are pipes, huge dials, gearwheels, watches with Roman numerals, levers, retro TV sets, rollers, cylinders, and phones, as well as other details and mechanisms from the past.
Metals include copper, bronze, brass, iron. They are not only used to build furniture, lamps, and various decor elements but are also used as an example when laying-out tiles and walls.
Rough finishing materials and textures. Leather, solid darkened hardwood, raw stone, and bricks always help to emphasize the industrial design and make it more spectacular.
Typical shades are gray, brown, black, and red. But you can also consider using colors such as ivory, beige, cream, luxury blue, lilac, dark green, and any tones with metallic effect.
As mentioned before, one of the main symbols of steampunk and the main element of decoration is a gearwheel. It can be found anywhere. Decorative gears are used for summer kitchens, house exterior, gazebos, furniture, and backyard decor sculptures. They are also used to create original picture panels (french "panneau").
Airships, vintage barometers, steam engines, telescopes, cars, globes, submarines, geographic maps, tubes/pipes, motorcycles, clocks/watches, plants, anatomical illustrations, herbariums, etc. - anything from these can be represented in sculptures, wall decorations, carbage cans, lamps, and even original ashtrays to emphasize science-fiction at your place. The design can always be complicated and complimented by a lot of additional details related to the time travel theme which is quite relevant for steampunk. Such industrial aesthetics will provide the necessary entourage.
The atmosphere of steampunk can be created with the following items:
- Door handles in the form of globe valve handwheels
- Antique globes
- Huge vintage wall clocks (round casing)
- Round fake windows imitating portholes
- Riveted chests
- Chubby vintage fridges
- Retro wall phones
- Riveted chests, suitcases, vintage boards, and maps
- Various vintage mechanisms, e.g. radio or gramophone
- Vintage posters and sepia photos
- Toy railroads and trains
- Various wood and metal objects with rivets
Colors and Tones
Sepia, soot, smoke, smog. Steampunk colors are mostly dark: brown, gray, black, dirty brick, rust. The use of other colors is not forbidden, of course, but it is preferable that they have smoky shades: not blue, but smoky blue, not pink, and "mountainous." A fantastic look for steampunk bathroom decor.
Since steampunk is considered to be a projection of the Victorian era, the walls of the house should be similar to those of a Victorian house (experts often use the term "natural country"). Both natural stone and wooden or metal panels can be used as a material. Sometimes metal strips with rivets are used to imitate the inner lining of a submarine, as in the case of Nautilus by Jules Verne. Alternatively, stylized hard-boiled brickwork or Victorian-style cloth cladding can be used.
Verandas can be made of natural wood coated with lacquer, it's relatively inexpensive. Since the style is quite democratic, less expensive floor covering, imitating expensive varieties of natural wood, can also be used.
Natural stone tiles or street cobbles are recommended as an extreme radical expression to lay out paths on the plot. it makes a strong impression and conveys the essence of the style.
As for the gazebo ceiling, it should be high and vaulted, while the asymmetry in the form of different steps and arches is welcomed.
Loft and urban styles mix. The most suitable finishes are brickwork, planks, preservation of bare concrete walls, rough plaster, stone, cobblestone floor tiles. This urban setting can be diluted with square-ruled or stripped wallpapers, Damascus-like ornamentation or with details similar to gearwheels and springs. You can also suplement your steampunk surroundings with urban elements - metal pipes, concrete and brick walls are very popular today due to the fashion for lofts, urban, and industrial styles.
Artificial lighting plays an essential role. Slightly diffused, not too bright string lights are perfect, but a great effect can also be achieved by discharge lamps.
Luminaires are always important. They can emphasize your garden elemetns and decor, create the right mood and atmosphere. According to this information, for steampunk style, choose industrial lamps made of metal, pipes or even simple incandescent lamps. You can use chandeliers in Victorian and classical style and bring some luxury and comfort to the plot.
In fact, there's no need spend a lot of money to buy these designer decor pieces. Why not create them yourself? Of course, the style and sense of proportion are essential here. However, as a result, you will get a unique piece, which will not only become an adornment of your place but also make you feel constantly elated.
Not only fans of steampunk style sometimes disassemble old mechanisms only to reassemble them into something unique and exclusive. Such handicrafts will help bring a piece of your personality into the decor.
Many fans have an interesting hobby - they give a steampunk look to modern objects like laptops, TVs, phones, toasters, etc. At the heart of the design, lays a combination of vintage and futuristic themes. The objects look the same as before but, at the same time, they seem to be stuffed with a lot of obscure mechanisms, as if are from an alternative future. Having chosen this style for your home, you can also get deeply involved in this interesting process of decoration.
Forget about buying new furniture pieces. An undeniable fact is that old furniture gives charm to any area. Flea market furniture pieces, old restored elements, industrial shelves, and homemade products will be just perfect.
Futuristic steampunk furniture implies metal pipes that provide unreality and, at the same time, hints at a certain functional purpose. Often, for storing books, kitchen utensils, working tools, and equipment, metal pipes, chests, and boxes are used instead of shelves.
Many furniture pieces can be forged, e.g. tables, chairs, couches. An iron cabinet will be a successful acquisition. Kitchen sets can be covered with a tabletop, lined with steel. Radial facades will also emphasize the futuristic design. Loungers, armchairs, regular chairs upholstered in leather, wooden or wicker furniture with rivets, as well as colonial-style objects will fit just fine.
Here are some ideas that can serve as an inspiration source:
- Post-Apocalyptic world in "The Wild West" or "Mad Max: The Road of Rage". Movies like "The League of Extraordinary Gentlemen", "The Golden Compass", "The Illusionist", etc.
- Retro-futuristic inventions of the 19th and 20th centuries that express people's vision of the future world at that time.
- Fictional or concept light airships, Charles Babbage's difference engine, analog computers, etc.
- The 19th-century industrial revolution, paintings of industrial cities, fictions of that time, books of Jules Verne with his love for various mechanisms, etc
- Recycled materials, advertising posters, steampunk-stylized tree-houses, a metal pipe labyrinth for your cat under the roof your house, vintage mechanisms in forms of steam machines, etc.
You can also be inspired by iron sculptures of the famous artist John Lopez
Be creative and invent!