The steampunk style is a unique subgenre that is a blend of Victorian style, industrial design, and science-fiction. Combining both a historic and modern-futurist aesthetic, steampunk style features a variety of colors, textures, and shapes to get a look that is all its own.
Common elements of steampunk style include leather, velvet, brass, wood, and iron. Steampunk enthusiasts blend these materials to craft designs that are reminiscent of vintage fashion and retro-futurist technology.
They combine these styles with decor that displays intricate mechanical craftsmanship. As this style develops, it will continue to compel both enthusiasts and amateurs to create designs where the future and the past blend together to create stunning style.
Development of Steampunk Style
Though steampunk style has roots in the 19th century, the term “steampunk” was developed by the writer K. W. Jeter in 1987. He used the term to describe a science fiction world that was powered by steam and where clockwork mechanisms were prominent. Steampunk visual arts and fashion began to take shape in the 1990s, when artists and designers began to use steampunk features in their work. These included Victorian fashion, futuristic motifs, and industrial machine parts.
The look of steampunk style is a combination of Victorian styles like Gothic and industrial design. The steampunk look continues to develop and change as enthusiasm for the style continues to expand. You can see the influences of steampunk on interior design, television, video games, and music. There are outgrowths of steampunk style practiced all over the world, especially in Japanese culture, where there is a close connection between Japanese anime and steampunk. While steampunk remains, at its core, a style that celebrates Victorianna and steampowered technology, it is a dynamic, imaginative style that will continue to evolve as new enthusiasts adopt it as their own.
Steampunk Style Interior Design Elements
Steampunk style interior design is a unique combination of Victorian elegance, rustic industrial style, and imaginative futuristic elements. Enthusiasts combine these elements together to create visually unique and textured spaces. Here are some key components of steampunk style that you can use to create a unique look in your home.
Steampunk is rooted in Victorian-era style, so it is helpful to draw upon the colors, textures, and style of Victorian interior design when trying to implement the steampunk look.
Victorian interior design was known for its use of rich colors, ornamental pieces and patterns, and luxurious materials. Colors that were used prominently during the Victorian period were ruby red, burgundy, dark green, navy blue, and brown.
Victorian furniture was crafted from dark wood and heavily ornamented with rounded cushion styles. The Victorians were known for their display of ornamental wallpaper and floor tiles, which vied with heavy draperies and ornate picture arrangements. These and other decorative elements, like stained glass windows and embossed ceiling tiles, which can give color and texture to steampunk room designs.
The Victorian and Industrial eras coexisted at the same time, so it is not unusual to pair these eras together. What is unique about steampunk style is the overt way it displays industrial-age equipment and technology within interior spaces. Steampunk interiors will overtly display industrial materials such as brass, copper, brick, and weathered wood to highlight architectural elements and as decor. Industrial mechanisms like pipes, gears, and rivets are another popular feature in steampunk style. Steampunk designers use these items and materials in furniture, fixtures, and decorative elements.
Vintage and Antique Furniture
Steampunk style utilizes many stylistic periods, so it is helpful to look for furniture and decor among vintage and antique stores. Look for plush and comfortable furniture in luxurious fabrics and coverings like velvet and leather. Most pieces that look fitting in steampunk style are weathered and worn.
Clocks are integral to steampunk style, both because of steampunk’s emphasis on time travel and industrial mechanisms. Use large and ornate wall clocks, pocket watches, and other time-keeping devices to create focal points and decorative elements on walls and decor on bookcases and shelves.
Lighting is crucial in steampunk design for creating a layered background and as a way to display unusual steampunk light fixtures. Steampunk light fixtures often feature Edison-style bulbs, exposed wiring, and pipework typical of industrial machinery. Atique-style lamps and fixtures are other options for steampunk lighting design.
Steampunk style is associated with steam-powered travel as well as time travel. Travel accessories like globes, maps, suitcases, and trunks, as well as navigational instruments like compasses and sextants, add an adventurous layer to your steampunk design. You can display their items on walls or as part of bookcase and shelf decor.
Vintage Books and Accessories
Browse through vintage and antique stores for decor to display in your steampunk design. Look for items like books, old pictures, machinery, trophies, bottles, statuary, locks and keys, mirrors, typewriters, candlesticks, vintage fans, and other vintage decor. These items are useful as table and shelf accessories to give your steampunk design more character.
Steampunk Tips for Rooms at Home
Creating a steampunk-style home is an exciting style move. You can choose to go “all in” with your steampunk style or just add a few elements that give your home some steampunk flair.
Because of its utilitarian nature, the kitchen is the ideal place to implement some steampunk-style features. Replace your drawer and cabinet knobs and pulls with something more industrial. Look for industrial options in steampunk materials like brass, copper, or iron. Display a light fixture with Edison bulbs and a pipe-work body. Install some open shelving to display a few well-chosen pieces of vintage decor. Replace a few of your small kitchen appliances, like a coffee maker or toaster, with a retro-style machine.
Steampunk Living Rooms
Living rooms are ideal for optimizing the luxurious materials and unique decor associated with steampunk design. Begin with a rich color palette, including some options like rich red, brown, aubergine, charcoal, deep blue, and forest green.
Use these colors for upholstery, wallcoverings, paint colors, and draperies. Mix in vintage furniture pieces in leather and velvet for sofas and chairs, and pair them with industrial coffee and side tables. Opt for industrial and vintage lighting for your overhead and task lighting accessories. Display vintage decor on coffee tables, side tables, shelves, and bookcases.
To implement steampunk style in the bedroom, begin with the main focal point of the room, the bed. Choose a bed frame that looks Victorian, such as an iron or brass bed. Or, consider an industrial or leather headboard. Utilize richly colored bedding in luxurious materials like velvet. Hang steampunk wall displays like maps, clocks, or industrial mechanisms. Choose vintage or industrial lighting to accent each side of the bed.
Begin implementing steampunk style in the bathroom by installing industrial-style fixtures for the sink and for the lighting features. Choose a vintage mirror that either has an ornate vintage or rustic industrial style. Paint the walls a rich color, or choose a lighter version of these colors if your bathroom is small or has no windows. Create a focal point on the wall behind the toilet for a display of vintage pictures or an industrial design.
Steampunk Dining Room
Choose an industrial-style option for your dining table that features iron and wood or a vintage piece with ornate legs and a richly colored wood finish. Complement the table with vintage-style dining chairs covered in an ornate fabric or chairs with exposed industrial features. Hang a light over the table that features Edison bulbs and exposed piping, or choose an ornate vintage chandelier. Enhance your steampunk style by using vintage glassware and flatware. Display vintage pieces on sideboards and as centerpieces for dinner parties.