Friday, March 11, 2011

Saturday Steam: Design Inspiration

(Yes, I know it's still Friday. I just figured you could use some goofing off this afternoon, and "Friday Steam" just doesn't work for me.)

Steampunk style can encompass everything from grungy post-apocalyptic to straight-laced Victorian, so when it comes to decorating your home, it's easy to get overwhelmed. The trick - as with all decorating - is to use what you like, not to copy someone else's style exactly. And since there aren't many steampunk homes out there (other than this one, of course), you'll have to be creative when looking for inspiration.

Here's a little eye candy to get you going:

Submitted by Jenn, Malling-Hansen's Writing Ball found via

My knees get a little weak every time I look at this antique typewriter. Excuse me for a moment while I just sit here slack-jawed and drool a bit, mkay?

[drooling] Oooooh.

Ok, that's better. Thanks.

Since most of us don't have the spare thousands to buy a Writing Ball, just remember that anything mechanical and beautifully detailed is perfect for steampunk style. Check junk marts and antique shops for old typewriters, clocks, nautical instruments, kitchen gadgets, etc. Use your imagination. And remember: they *do* sell brass spray paint. [wink] No one says you can't cheat!

Submitted by Heidi, Black Widow Steampunk Chopper via

Ok, I know what you're thinking: how does a motorcycle help inspire home decor? But look at the shape, and the way the copper gleams against the matte black. Can't you envision a kitchen using this kind of detail? Or a decorative trunk? How about an art piece? Bottom line: Great style transcends the object, and you never know where you'll find your "A-ha!" moment.

Of course, sometimes your inspiration can be a little less abstract:

Submitted by Lori R., made by Carolina Fontoura Alzaga

These chandeliers are made with old bicycle chains. Who knew grunge could be so elegant?

Here's a double-tiered version:

Again, for us DIY'ers: I've seen chandeliers made from everything from Gummi Bears to paper clips, old wine glasses to folded paper. Think outside the crystals. Look at cheap, abundant materials, and remember that everything looks different when strung together en masse and lit from the inside.

Since just about everyone's phone has a camera in it these days, you can also bag your design bounty in some surprising places. Like an old bank:

Amanda R. snapped this picture of an old vault door. Check out the beautiful gold leaf pattern and the colors of the metal. Plus, wouldn't the spoke design make an amazing porthole or mirror surround?

Or how about this shop display?

Stephanie M. spotted this rack* at a scrapbook store. The wire dress form would be a super sweet way to soften the hard rusty edges of many steampunk styles.

*I just realized "rack" could have two meanings here. And then I laughed. Heartily.

Besides, I like the wings on the back:

And speaking of hard rusty edges, check out this desk made from old marine mines:

Submitted by Kayla S., made by Marinemine

Again, you're probably not going to drop a small fortune to buy this desk. However, here's another fun fact: many crafts stores sell rust paint kits. When applied properly, they make even smooth wood look like decrepit old metal. Imagine with me now, the possibilities....

Oh, and don't forget the plumbing aisle! Marie found this nifty candelabra made from metal pipe fittings:

Check out the quick instructional vid here.
(And remember there are lots of copper fittings to choose from, too!)

And finally, let me refer you all again to my favorite resource for steampunk home design: The Steampunk Home. It's awesome. And if you're not careful, you may lose several days to reading the entire archives. So it's a good thing it's the weekend, huh?

If you've done anything steampunk in your home, you can bet your steamy little soul I want to see it. Share your links in the comments!


  1. Have you seen this yet?
    (I couldn't get the html thing to work to make it one clickable word. Sorry)

  2. I was just browsing steampunk items on ebay this AM. I found a really cool vase it was round made of amber glass and etched as a globe. Unfortunately it was something like $150 which is too much for me but stil cool.

    I also just made a pretty cool piece of steampunky art while atempting to design a tattoo. I can't afford the tattoo yet but the collage came out so nice I'm going to frame it and hang it up until I can. Once I get my scanner fixed I plan to send it to you.

  3. Thanks for the tips. I always appreciate these.

  4. If you ever are in St. Louis, MO you should check out City Museum. A five story building of industrial playland. You should at least check out the pictures. And the spiral thingies you see pictures of are SLIDES, five story spiral slides, weeeeee.

  5. Love that steampunk house! So cool!

  6. How about a haunted house that uses steampunk? Wish they had pictures from inside the Carriage House but sadly they don't. The two guys who own it do an amazing job of staging. The professor is their main steampunk character.
    Raycliff Manor

  7. So cool! And I hope this means we also get the Saturday Steam tomorrow, right? Right?

  8. This is more on the clockwork side of steampunk, but The Long Now Foundation has a very sexy clock. I've meant to mention it for a while now.

    Why is it sexy? Because the makers have really given thought about obsolescence, upkeep and the continuation of knowledge. From their site: "The Clock will be all mechanical, designed to keep ticking for at least 10,000 years, and will keep track of many calendric and astronomic events."

    Oh, and gears. Lots of shiny gears.

    The Orrery and the Rosetta Disk are likewise beautiful. When you take into account that they function...I want.

  9. If you are hunting raw materials, you might try looking at HAM (amateur radio, not meat) swap meets. Ask the guys to open the radios so you can see all the wires/tubes and metal dealies on the inside. There are always the guys who sell restored morse code keys which are sooo pretty.

  10. I'm thinking thrift shop. Awesome place for DIY's to find bits and pieces to be put together to make something awesome.

  11. @ Madhatter360 - whoah, I'd not seen that before. Gorgeous!

    @ Sarah - BWAHAHAHA! ;)

    @ Lim - WOW. Breath-taking.

    @ Anony - How did I not think of that?? My dad was even an ham radio junkie when I was a kid! Srsly, great idea. I'm off to hunt down morse code keys now...

  12. Rub 'n Buff! Srsly:

    Learned about this wonder at Wild Wild West Con from Airship Isabella, who are a wonderful resource of how to make steampunk! They share their craft, have help forums, and are a real cool group of steampunk folks with a creative backstory (time traveling airship allows for all styles and facets of steampunk mixed with other genres). Check 'em out!

    And again --- Rub 'n Buff! I'll never use Rustoleum metallic 'any surface' spray paint again!

  13. This guy uses old textbooks, encyclopedias and dictionaries to make incredible artwork that would be awesome in a cool steampunk type display. Check it out - look at the images page.

  14. I'm sorta steampunking my living room - not going too crazy because I still want it to be cosy.

    I made my mirror look like rusted metal, without the benefit of special kits (couldn't find any here in the UK). I posted about it on my blog here

    I should really post some of the other cool stuff I've gathered (including an antique typewriter and some victorian cotton bobbins...) Thanks for the extra inspiration!

  15. Thanks for sharing. I've always wondered how to go about decorating with steampunk. When I see your posts about what you've done, I'm amazed and wonder how you do it. So, thanks for sharing a little of what to think about when searching and creating. I'm excited to give it a go! (P.S. It is Saturday where I'm at, so in my world you're right on time. :P)

  16. So, I finally made my way over here from Cake Wrecks maybe 2-3 weeks ago and am in love with this blog. I love the look of steampunk; whether or not it fits with the rest of the house/my teacher clothing style is another story.
    You probably already know this site, but I just found it, so what the heck?
    Pier One also has some really cool clocks right now that made me think "old world style."

  17. So I just saw this: CLOCKWORK CON and thought of you. It looks like they are just getting started on all the details but I've heard they are talking to Steam Powered Giraffe about performing there. And the fact that it's going to be in my town has nothing to do with the fact that I think you should attend.

  18. Another good source of inspirations, especially for decorative designs, is Dover Publications.

    They have done reprints of a lot of Victorian era decorating and design books and they are a fantastic resource. I've gotten the books to get designs for tooling leather, but they would be excellent sources for decorating other items as well.

  19. Awesome pics.
    The Charles River Museum in Waltham, MA has an awesome (if much too small) steampunk exhibit - a scooter, a wheelchair, clocks, guitars, a working freakishly cool pinball machine, and much more. Its in an old watch manufacturing factory (there's a huge antique watch exhibit) and an industrial machine exhibit. I took my son there today. Very very cool.

    Also, if you google Chronicle (a local tv show) they did a show on steampunk & have links to some amazing artists.

  20. Hey, Something about today's post reminded me of Warehouse 13. Do you watch it on Syfy? There are some steamy gadgets on there.

  21. Whoah....what an incredible collection of Steampunk finery at its best! I oooh'd and ahhh'd with each picture, but that typewriter is one I'm certainly not soon to forget. Definitely gotta pin this to my "Steampunk Inspirations" board at Pinterest! Thanks! Jenn/Rook No. 17

  22. I was aware of steampunk before reading Epbot, but I've become obsessed with it since. I *want* that house! Someday I hope to have a house that's decorated in something other than Modern Clutter. I don't think I'll end up with anything that awesome, though.

  23. Love this! Jen, I wanted to give you a Stylish Blogger award. More geeky girls need to visit your blog. Details of the award are on my blog at

  24. While I don't use steampunk style for decorating I can certainly appreciate it. Thanks for sharing these fantastic ideas!


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