Wednesday, July 9, 2008

Help Maeve Design Her Steampunk Apartment


Maeve needs our help!

I'm renting a basement apartment, which used to be the maid's quarters, in a gigantic old Victorian. I have a good idea what I want to do with the bedroom and living rooms (the two rooms with the tiled floors), but I'm a little at a loss what to do with the rather boring kitchen to make it more interesting, steampunk etc. I can't figure out what to do that will go with the black and orange tile. I'm thinking of switching out the cabinet hardware, and maybe taking down some of the doors for open storage, but I'm not sure. Painting is also a very limited option (everything has to get approved by the landlady first) so anything too crazy can't be permanent. I'm thinking of doing some vinyl wall decals in the living room and bedroom, in addition to some giant bookcases, but all the wall decals I've found have been rather flowery or cartoonish.


Since I'll be moving across country with no furniture to move into this apartment, I'll be starting with a completely fresh slate, and any suggestions you or your readers might have for any of the rooms pictured, I'd greatly appreciate it. My boyfriend introduced me to your blog a couple of months ago and I'm absolutely in love. (editor's note: Thank you!)

Any suggestions for temporary, steampunk changes to this apartment? It's got a great setting, and good "bones." The shutters are nice, and I love the checkerboard tile and would embrace it! I have a number of ideas, but wanted to let the Steampunk Home Readers weigh in with their ideas first. I'll pull the best suggestions from the comments and do a follow up post, and then we'll make sure Maeve sends us her "after" pictures.




13 comments:

Rosewort said...

Amazon.com recently carried contact paper in metallic colors. Basically, looked like a sheet of copper or brass depending which tone you chose. There are even decals to turn a white fridge into a "stainless steel" one. These would be great for cutting out fake "gears" to place strategically...

As for other wall treatments, my years living in apartments have taught me much. Muslin, painted to look like a nice period wallpaper on one side (look at places like http://www.victorianwallpaper.com for inspiration), and starched can be hung safely over most walls - even that forsaken decor element of the 1970s, wood paneling.

Here's a link to get you started with fabric wallpaper!
http://jcaroline.typepad.com/jcaroline/2008/05/starch-your-wal.html

Are you required to keep the shutters? If you are, it may be worth it to try to incorporate a "cottage" theme in with your "Steampunk". Say, Victorian industrial with a touch of English Diplomat- think Bombay Company - or a American seaside hotel retreat circa 1890? Even airship tycoons need a vacation... Think wicker chairs, steamer trunk coffee tables, lamps that have an exotic look (like a hookah with a beaded lampshade!) - elements evocative of travel. Posters of airships. A ladies writing desk - perhaps found at a flea market? Folding screens made to look like they're from the near or far east. You'd be amazed what you can find when you dumpster dive, too.

Instead of going all Martha Stewart on the cottage theme colors, inject your favorite aspects of the Victorian palette. Also remember that fringe is your friend in the 19th century, unless you have pets who like to eat them, as I do.

Keep in mind too, that you don't have to keep to a unified theme (Art Nouveau, High Victorian, Aesthetic, Art Deco) throughout your domicile. You can mix it up a bit - the Victorians did! Take your cues from the apartment hardware you can't get rid of. A bare looking bathroom mirror, for example, can be Art Deco'd with a few corner decals that imitate frosted glass; these can be found at places like AC Moore and Michels craft stores. Add Deco bathroom accessories et voila - you have Hercule Poirot's bathroom. Or snug a picture frame around it. You're lucky with the black and white tiling; it almost demands Deco.

The kitchen? Well, what I did in one apartment: I bought a faucet that *I* liked, and replaced the one that was there for the duration of my tenure there. Kept the old one, and switched them back before the move. Things like faucets and toilet seats, even drawer pulls can be replaced temporarily; just keep them all and remember to "put back as you found it" before you move out.

A trick to hide the light fixture over the sink: a knit or crocheted lace demi-curtain, say, 7-10 inches long, can be put on a tension curtain rod to mask the offending fixture from people entering the room. Additionally it will bring a nice touch of whimsy to the space without depriving you of the needed illumination, as a fabric curtain would. If you can't knit or crochet, I'd be willing to help you there!

Hope these suggestions help!

Rosewort said...

http://jcaroline.typepad.com
/jcaroline/2008/05/
starch-your-wal.html

Sorry, the link was chopped off when I posted. I'm much better with Livejournal. *grin*

Diane said...

There is a tutorial for vinyl cling decals on Instructables. It just popped up recently but it's pretty appropriate.

LeeMiller said...

I think one thing would be to focus in on more of what you really like, maybe make a look book. One of my favorite sources is the sundancecatalog.com. My fiance and I ordered the steamer trunk coffee table and photographer's lamp and we love them. I've also seen some really neat stuff online at jcpenny.com in the Linden collection. Maybe an oriental rug for the kitchen floor, maybe a beat up consignment store find, with some cool steam punk ceiling/floor lighting, and the rights dishes/glasses would spice things up. I just go the hourglass glasses at napastyle.com and I love them. I'm using them with the wine cork candles set in old wine bottles to steampunk up my place a bit. For dishes I'm looking some at French country looks which I think work well and I'm getting some cute glasses/knick knacks that have a French bistro look. The right kitchen clock would also add alot.

Lynne said...

Fabric can assist with an old-world, or steamtech ambience. You can buy a simple plastic undercurtain for the shower for about $6, Then make an outer curtain out of a Victorian print or a clocks/compass/maps/gears print fabric. I've seen several great fabrics on ebay recently. Long full curtains to the floor, not necessarily heavy, will add color and atmosphere to the rooms. You could also buy inexpensive solid fabric, or thrift sheets, dye or tea-stain them and paint your own design with craft paint. A canvas sheet can be painted as a rug also,(I love the compass design under the Steampunk Home post of fantasy bedroom) or whatever design suits you, and glue on a border. Check remnants at carpet places, fabric stores, craft shops for an appropriate edging material. Sisal or bamboo could add the Bombay look, bronze or copper materials to match a decor with more old metals. If you can take off a cabinet door or two in the kitchen you could hang Victorian/gears/your own design fabric there also to soften and age the room. If you can spare the space take off a cabinet door and use the shelf area to display old brass finds or steamtech gadgets. I love the tile floors!

Taz said...

Some great ideas here. I like the idea of hangings. I wouldn't paint them though, just use the dark browns and maroons - maybe mushroom. This is the kind of effect I'm talking about (ditch the vase and flowers). In fact a lot of the colours here would work in that space.

Be careful of making it too dark. You only have small windows and it would be easy to overdo it. Dark furnishings, with darker highlights would work best.

The Bombay theme could work if that's what you want. With those old fashioned mosquito nets (like the ones on the previous page.

I've got a thing for roman blinds myself - not quite sure if they fit into that genre though.

Lots of candles. Rich dark colours and smells are my favourite (mmmm cinnamon) in glass, or on nice plates. The local cheap store (not sure what yours are - I live in Australia) - but you know the ones - with bits and pieces of everything are great. I use scarfs, plates, candles, etc that I got cheap. Some cheap fabrics on ebay.

Also got a couple of prints and a picture from here. The Orc Nouveau stuff is what suited me. But there's some great stuff with cogs in it as well.

Mmmm, art =).

The Professor said...

To me, the tile in the kitchen screams "mad science!", which should be an easy look to pull off in a kitchen. Some lab looking accessories, and a poster like this: http://www.allposters.com/-sp/Journey-to-Mars-Posters_i2884766_.htm

atayala said...

Beautiful design. It's like a mini castle. I love all this designs, so much light and space.

Deirdre G
house for sale Philippines

daysease said...

whatever happened with this little home? did they send you pictures?? did you ever post about it? The comments on this post are great!!

Mothgrl said...

What great ideas! I have found myself with the opportunity to design a bedroom (eg; I've turned 31 and decided it is no longer dignified for me to continue sleeping on the admittedly very comfy sofabed... I can afford a nice bed/mattress, but sometimes the old student-thriftiness just won't shake off, you know?)
BUT, I have roughly the creative powers of a boiled parsnip and would love some advice from people who can see past renters restrictions. I have *extremely* high ceilings, a correspondingly high window in the bedroom area, lovely golden Huon pine floorboards (Aussies will know what I'm talking about)and white walls. It's really the white walls that are throwing me, see I love the steampunk aesthetic, but how to get that lush feel when the basic palette is modernised colonial?

Lynne said...

Mothgrl, a new bedroom sounds like such fun! Send in pics to Sarah and I'm sure you'll get tons of great suggestions!

Lynne said...

Oops, sorry, Sara! Just got back from a long tiring flight...

Ariel said...

One look at the tiles in the kitchen (which I must admit, are not the ideal colors) and I immediately thought "chess" . . . there are just so many ways you could give an Alice-in-Wonderland based chess theme a steampunk feel. In fact, the SyFy channel recently ran a miniseries based on Alice in Wonderland that was very dystopian, trippy and steampunky all at the same time. I really enjoyed it.

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