Our Favorite Art Nouveau-Inspired Home Decor
Learn all about the iconic style, plus shop art nouveau-inspired wares and accessories for every room.
Art deco-inspired decor had a good run the past decade, but now it's fading in favor of its more whimsical sister, art nouveau. The two art periods still have a lasting impact on the design world and are often grouped together, but they couldn't be more different. Art deco is big, bold and metallic — a reflection of the jazz, new-fangled electricity, Industrial Revolution and exciting innovation of the time. By contrast, art nouveau is softer, with muted pastels and aged bronze over art deco’s shiny brass and gold. That doesn’t mean it’s not without drama. Learn more about the iconic style, plus shop our favorite art nouveau-inspired decor below, from kitchenware and curtains to the single-most defining piece of art nouveau art: the Tiffany lamp.
What is Art Nouveau?
The art nouveau movement, which took place simultaneously and within the Art and Crafts era, influenced art, architecture, home decor and more from 1890-1910. Like Arts and Crafts, art nouveau draws inspiration from nature, but art nouveau design takes the natural world and makes it magical. There’s an ethereal, woodland nymph-like quality to art nouveau, from sweeping curves in wood furniture that look like tree branches to delicate petal and wing-like glass lamps. Peter Jackson’s Lord of the Rings films took heavy inspiration from art nouveau to bring the mystical elvish world of Rivendell to life. Back in the mortal world, the most famous example of art nouveau is hands down Hector Guimard’s 1910 entrances to the Paris Metro, especially the Abbesses, Porte Dauphine and Palais Royal – Musée du Louvre stations.
Arts & Crafts, Art Nouveau and Art Deco: Which is Which?
Here’s the history of each of these timeless design styles and their defining characteristics.
Furniture + Decor
For an art period so short, there's not a lot of architecture or art left. These days, true antique furniture pieces can go for tens of thousands of dollars — though you can sometimes snag a piece on sale over at 1st Dibs for under $1,000. However, reproductions are a much more budget-friendly way to get the look in your own home. Two of these end tables from Wayfair would look great flanking a bed, but if furniture is still out of the budget, small decor swaps can make a big impact, too. I love this custom-ordered address plaque from Etsy, and these glasses from Uncommon Goods have that signature whimsical curve in the flower stems design. You could use a highball glass as a vase or a rocks tumbler as a votive holder. These art nouveau-inspired ceramic tiles would make a cute coaster set. The Etsy shop sells tons of designs if you want to mix and match.
Like its subject matter, art nouveau's color palette takes inspiration from nature with rich dark browns, pale sage green, soft blues and lots of creams. It's muted but not boring. And that's because these colors are used in elaborate, intricate floral patterns and motifs made famous by artist William Morris. The British textile designer's work is associated with the umbrella movement of Art and Crafts, but his influences are everywhere in art nouveau. These floral riffs are perfect for curtains, throws and area rugs.
Art + Wall Decor
Like textiles, art prints are another great way to easily add art nouveau patterns in a room, and a framed or canvas-wrapped piece of art is much less permanent (or a hassle) than wallpaper. Art nouveau is all about the movement of life, from dragonfly wings to iris petals. Artists were especially drawn to textured flowers such as marigolds or poppies. Another common motif is depicting the four seasons in quadriptych panels like this mural from Society 6. If you dig the signature curves of art nouveau design, a mirror is another simple addition. I'm obsessed with this mango wood mirror from Wayfair. It features the "whiplash curves" typically found in art nouveau furniture.
You can't talk about art nouveau decor without mentioning Tiffany lamps. The phrase "Tiffany lamp" is now used for any stained-glass lamp, but the real deal goes back to the 1880s. Louis Comfort Tiffany took the art world by storm with new glassmaking techniques and mesmerizing designs of glass peacocks and dragonflies. There are florals everywhere throughout Tiffany's designs, from peonies to wisteria. The wisteria designs are my favorite as each glass piece resembles a drooping petal that looks as if it might come alive and start to sway. Today, true Tiffany pieces can easily go for one million dollars or more, but don't worry — there are tons of dupes and Tiffany-inspired lamps under $200. I'm really digging this wisteria-inspired lamp from Anthropologie. It's a modern take on the signature dome-shaped Tiffany shade.