Style Clash: Streamlined Sleek Meets Wintry Wonderland


What happens when one style meets another? Is it catastrophe waiting to happen or is there hope for harmony?

That’s why we created Style Clash. Some design styles are more flexible; others force us to stretch outside our comfort zone. Each week we will offer tips for mixing competing styles successfully.

What do we mean by “successful”, you ask? If nothing seems strange, jarring or just plain ugly, then I’m all for it regardless of time period, colorway or material. I call it a successful Style Clash.

For our sixth installment in the Series we will mix Art Deco with Shabby Chic and see where we land.

Art Deco (image above and below) sets itself apart from other styles with its very modern and hi-tech approach to simple and comfortable. Known best for its sweeping curves and sleek geometric lines, Art Deco got its name from a design exhibition held in Paris in 1925 – the Exposition Internationale des Arts Décoratifs et Industriels Modernes. In fact, the name Art Deco wasn’t used until the 1960s – it was known initially as “Style Moderne”.


This interior style combines many design elements and materials – sensual but streamlined curves, geometric patterns, stainless steel and gold accents, lacquered woods, bold red leather and zebra rugs, marble flooring, mirrors and glass. Basically if an Art Deco surface isn’t shiny or reflective, it’s soft and supple but still sleek with little texture.


To wit, the living room above says Art Deco all over. It provides the curves (coffee table, chair and sofa arm rests, side table lamps) as well as the shiny (side table lamps, coffee table, chrome on chair, painted black floors), and the soft velour sofa, red leather chair and zebra skin rug. Even the side tables are wood but with curved edges.


Shabby Chic (image above and below) has its roots in a present day cool, white wonderland. There’s nothing sleek or shiny about it. This interior style expresses the simple pleasures of comfortable and cozy, fluffy and soft. It radiates a simple, practical easy-going way of life via over-sized, overstuffed furniture that you want to fall into (and never get out of).


First recognized as a design style in 1989 when Rachel Ashwell founded her company, the Shabby Chic style (image below) is based on the philosophy that imperfection is beautiful. Often the pieces aren’t actually old, but a “faux finish” painting technique solves the problem by making furniture appear well-worn and antique.


Combining these styles may seem impossible to imagine, but that’s why we are here. Style Clash turns this unlikely duo into a design marriage made in heaven (image at top, images below).

The shiny and sleek Art Deco in the “clash” interiors speaks loudly but doesn’t drown out the cozy and well-worn Shabby Chic. Notice how the geometric lines (wall unit above), curved surfaces (chairs and table above), mirrored coffee and side table (below) combine comfortably with the cool, neutral color palette and large, simple sofas.


The small wall sconces and various chandeliers say old, aged antique and they combine seamlessly with the modern mirrors, lacquered floors and shiny white kitchen cabinets. It’s elegant and hi-tech yet imperfect and prepared for people to live in.


If I had to define this “clash”, I’d call it something like sleek and streamlined with a well-worn and comfortable slice of white wonderland.

Images via Dwell, Sköna hem, Lonny.

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