What is Art Nouveau Interior Design?

Art Noveau interior design was an elaborate style inspired by nature. It affected more than home interiors, influencing architecture, furniture, sculptures, and jewelry.

While Art Nouveau has yet to make a comeback like similar styles, many of its elements can fit into an eclectic design. Here’s a look at the history and characteristics of Art Nouveau.

The History of Art Nouveau Interior Design

What is Art Nouveau Interior Design?

Art Nouveau interior design was popular in the United States and Europe from 1890 to 1910. It got its start in Britain during the Arts and Crafts movement. One of its first uses was by designer William Morris who created floral textile designs. The style took off and became a collaboration of architecture and interior design. 

The Art Nouveau designs drew inspiration from natural forms, often mimicking the curves in flowers and trees. Art Nouveau was elegant, and in addition to the wildlife-inspired features, designers looked to incorporate modern materials of the time, like concrete, glass, iron, and ceramics.

In Art Noveau’s interior design, nature influenced all aspects, and each element had a sense of movement, sometimes referred to as “whiplash” lines. Because of the intricacy of these designs, the style was cost-prohibitive. While the movement was meant to be enjoyed by everyone, rich and poor, it was more often favored by the wealthy, who used it as a status symbol.

By the 1920s, Art Nouveau had faded out of style, replaced by the sleeker Art Deco designs, which were more obtainable.

Art Nouveau Interior Design Characteristics

Because the original Art Nouveau was an integration of architecture and interior design, it can be challenging to obtain this style. Still, you can give your home a whimsical and elegant Art Nouveau look by incorporating some of these characteristics.

Look for Furniture with Curves

One of the biggest staples of Art Noveau’s interior design is curved furniture – the more curves, the better. Furniture from this period has a lot of movement, mimicking plants blowing in the wind.

Some Art Nouveau furniture characteristics include:

  • Wood hutches and cabinets with deep curves carved into the side or curved wood pieces that appear to wrap around
  • Dining chairs that feature circular backs, curved arms, or have leaf motifs carved into them
  • Large curved headboards 
  • Benches with perforated designs or curved backs
  • Armchairs that look like they’re fit for a king

Art Nouveau furniture is the opposite of dull. Look for pieces that have unexpected and unique shapes.

Use Lots of Floral Patterns

Floral patterns are a hallmark of the Art Nouveau style. Use them on wallpaper, fabric, artwork, and murals on your walls. 

Stained Glass Accents

Artists thought stained glass to be beautiful and used it in most Art Nouveau schemes. Designers featured it in bold colors in windows, used it for decor, and on lampshades.

An easy way to bring an Art Nouveau touch to your living or bedroom is to find a stained glass lamp with an overflowing curved shade.

The Use of Japonisme Pieces

Japonisme is a French term that refers to the use of Japanese-inspired art, and in Art Nouveau, it was an important detail. 

Art Nouveau designers injected rooms with Japonisme-style furniture, sculptures, ceramics, and artwork.

Art Nouveau Color Palette

The base of the Art Nouveau color palette featured muted colors like cream, green, blue, and pink. But, some rooms had a more dramatic detailing featuring gold and jewel-toned accents.

Examples of Art Nouveau Interior Design

Because it’s no longer a prominent type of interior design, it can be hard to find rooms decorated exclusively as Art Nouveau. So instead, we’ve rounded up some Art Nouveau elements.

Art Nouveau Arched Door

Art Nouveau Arched Door
Bruce Palmer Coastal Design

The curved lines in this front door entrance are typical of Art Nouveau. The lines are organic, and the large spans of glass are also features of this style.

Art Nouveau Staircase

Art Nouveau Staircase
Elad Gonen

Art Nouveau staircases make a statement, and this one is no exception. The staircase looks like it defies gravity, and the railings add a whimsical touch.

Art Nouveau Windows

Art Nouveau Windows

Stained glass is a prominent feature of art nouveau windows, and this bathroom boasts them in the shower and over the tub.