Art Deco – love or hate?

The media has been filled with the joys of Art Deco recently due to the release of the Great Gatsby. It just so happens that I went to an amazing Art Deco house and antiques fair a couple of weeks ago so I thought I’d share it with you. You never know, it may wake a love of all things Art Deco in you.

Eltham Palace, in South East London, was originally the child hood home of Henry VIII. The remains of this home can still be seen but the wealthy Courtauld family built a house next to the remains of Eltham Palace and it’s among the finest examples of Art Deco architecture in England. This juxtaposition of architectural styles make this a unique place to visit and very inspiring at that. And what better place to have an Art Deco fair? Basically, my ideal afternoon.

Art Deco style began in the 1920’s in France. It flourished in the 1930’s and 40’s and emerged from the interwar period when industrialisation was transforming culture (can you tell I’m a History teacher?!). The new machinery and materials of that era influenced the movement to develop; gone were the organic motifs of the its predecessor Art Nouveau, to be replaced by symmetry and geometric shapes. The style is often characterised by rich colours, luxury, glamour, lavish ornamentation and bold geometric shapes.

I love some Art Deco pieces but there are others that I hate. However, I love eclecticism so it’s all about picking and choosing what you like from a certain era and more often than not it will blend well with other pieces whether they be Victorian, mid-century or contemporary.

Have a look for yourselves and decide whether you love or hate…

Eltham Palace Art Deco architecture

This the 1930’s addition to the building, built by the Courthalds. To the right is the remains of the Great Hall, which formed part of the childhood home of Henry VIII. 

Eltham Palace Art Deco interior

LOVE. This was my favourite part of the building. I love the space, light, simple shapes and muted colours against the white.

Eltham Palace Art Deco interior

HATE. Wood panelling is a classic feature of Art Deco style. Would I want it in my own home? Probably not.

Eltham Palace Art Deco interior

HATE. To me, at first glance, this all looks disgusting. But you can always find inspiration if you’re willing to look for it. The symmetry and structure of this room appeals and this is something that can be copied easily.

Eltham Palace Art Deco bathroom

HATE. Totally disgusting. But what about the shape of the bath? There’s always inspiration lurking.

After we’d been into the house we went to the antiques fair that was being held in the Great Hall. The Palace hosts these fairs twice a year (next one is in Septemeber). Have a look at some of the things I spotted…

Eltham palace Art Deco antiques fair

The Medieval Great Hall.

Eltham palace Art Deco antiques fair

LOVE. This would work perfectly on a mid-century coffee table or sideboard.

Eltham palace Art Deco antiques fair

HATE. I’m really not keen on the Art Deco figurines, especially the face plaques.

LOVE. This chair (a snip at £4500) would fit in with any interior.

Eltham palace Art Deco arm chair antiques fair

LOVE. I very nearly bought this. The footstool folds under the chair and becomes a conventional arm chair.

Eltham palace Art Deco antiques fair geometric mirror

LOVE. This geometric mirror is typical of the Art Deco style. This particular mirror is simpler than than the average and could slip into many different interiors.

Eltham palace Art Deco antiques fair sewing box

LOVE. I want this sewing box bad!

Art Deco Burleigh tea cup

LOVE. Art Deco Burleigh tea cup – my only purchase of the afternoon. I totally adore Art Deco crockery.

What about you? Love or hate?




  1. Nichola
    26th May 2013 / 1:45 pm

    I do rather love the figurines. My Grandma left me a beautiful green one which is also a lamp. It is one of my most prized possessions. I quite like the wood panelling too…

    • katy
      28th May 2013 / 7:59 am

      I definitely can’t get on board with the wood panelling but there are some figurines that I like and the lamps can be beautiful – I’m just not keen on the overly lavish and decorated ones as I prefer something simpler. I’d like to see the one your grandmother gave you x

  2. Grace
    28th May 2013 / 8:46 am

    I have always wanted to live in a 1930’s house with bakelite door handles and switches and a flat roof with curved windows. love that style. However, I also don’t like some of the more lavish and brash ornaments of the 1920’s. Great post! Definitely want to visit the palace now!

  3. Jaimee
    28th May 2013 / 8:47 am

    LOVE everything about Art Deco. My fave style movement by far. thanks for the history lesson too!

  4. katy
    28th May 2013 / 8:48 am

    Ha! My pleasure. Hope it makes sense 🙂

  5. Nahid Huda
    28th May 2013 / 11:24 am

    I generally don’t like wood panelling as it can be oppressive as well as absorb too much light. However, recently, I went to see a friend who has a 1920s house and all the panelling in the hallway had been painted grey (Farrow and Ball, I think). It looked great!

    • katy
      28th May 2013 / 4:06 pm

      That’s a good idea, Nahid. I’ve seen the same sort of thing done and I definitely prefer it to the full wood-effect, which I agree is far too heavy for most normal-sized houses. I wouldn’t mind if someone offered me a manor house with wood panelling though! 🙂

  6. 28th May 2013 / 7:55 pm

    Ha! I love it! The grandeur and opulence of it all. Sublime! And I desperately want that chair with the built-in side table. I will be going in September.

  7. Nichola
    28th May 2013 / 8:39 pm

    I went to Claridges for afternoon tea yesterday- Art deco at its best! Thick carpets, glass panelling and incredible chandeliers. The tea sets were in a beautiful green and cream, to match the upholstery. Cannot believe I forgot to take my camera!
    I will send you a pic of the lamp.

    • katy
      28th May 2013 / 10:15 pm

      So jealous! I also can’t believe you didn’t take your camera. That may be a reason to go back for more…

  8. Farah
    29th May 2013 / 9:51 pm

    The chair is a delight…why did you not buy it?

    • katy
      30th May 2013 / 6:45 am

      Jules didn’t like it 🙁 it was pretty reasonable too at £900.

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