The Steampunk Empire

The Crossroads of the Aether

How have people worked the steampunk aesthetic into their homes?  Furnishings?  Wall treaments?  Appliances?  I'm currently renovating our house (200+ y.o.) and I would like to very add a subtle steampunk theme, nothing too overt but just enough to evoke the "spirit" of steampunk.

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One thing that goes a long way is all-brass lighting, be it floor or desk lamps. Tiffany lightware is also helpful.

I love Tiffany's works, altho' his modern imitators can be hacks. (If you're back East, the best permanent collection of Tiffany I've seen is near Orlando FL, at the Charles Hosmer Morse Mus. of American Art in Winter Park. Superb!)

I'm not as fond of the Bigelow and Kennards I've seen, or the Duffner and Kimberleys, altho' I've only seen few in person, and of course it depends so much on the space. I did fall in love with a small Daum lamp once in an antique store - I still wish I'd bought it.

I would love to try reverse painting a glass shade, as Handel artists did. Then one could really customize a steampunk design. An Air Kraken lampshade would be awesome!

The lamps in my own living room are modern takes on the Arts & Craft style, with bronze painted metal stands and (faux) mica shades. Of course I'd rather have the real thing, but even these modern copies cast a lovely golden glow on all my bookshelves - like living in a cozy library.

I'm surely not a gifted artist, so I won't have the same problems they do - for one thing it doesn't seem abnormal to me to paint the foreground first!

I read that the Handel painters used pre-painted watercolors, which I assume they taped to the outside of the (originally) clear glass shade. One would have to use some Mercator-projection-like shaping to account for the curvature, I'd guess. Probably best to try something small and simple first, like a boudoir lamp. And maybe a simpler shape, like a truncated cone, would be simpler than a half-globe.

Speaking of which, has anyone turned an old globe into a light fixture?

I've been using large glass reagent bottles as kitchen storage for decades - I didn't even think of them as possible Steampunk. hmmm.... Thanks for the idea!

Years ago, I gave my mother 250 ml beakers from the lab for cream and sugar containers. They go well with the french press coffee maker. 

We were lucky to find a house 23 years ago that already had a beautiful Victorian style bedroom - not frou-frou, but with mahogany trim and paisley wall paper in deep colors. I have period looking lamps in there, two with glass shades and one with parchment.  I do have a couple of Tiffany-type lamps in other rooms.

While we don't have many decorative objects that are officially steampunk, we do collect hand-made things from modern American craftspeople, e.g. blown glass, and having kids, have several shelves and cabinets that display nature samples and other artifacts in the best world explorers' tradition.  Oh, and I do have a zeppelin hanging from my ficus tree.

I was a bit surprised to see the big box hardware stores are selling large, fancy filament bulbs (yes, actual incandescent) that could be very steampunk in the right fixture.  I have an art nouveau lamp in black and ormolu that I've been meaning to rewire, that would work well.

If you are  rehabing the kitchen, it might be fun to look at the kitchens of some of the big Edwardian and early 20th C American mansions.  Stan Hwyet (hywet?) Hall in Akron, OH and Biltmore in Asheville, NC come to mind.  My mental image is white tiles on the walls, black and white on the floor, butcher block and marble counters, hanging pot racks with copper pots.  Add a distilling apparatus if there is a little of the mad scientist in you :)

Another resource for those interested in this topic is Lisa Rooney's long-running thread "Around the House" in the Gilded Guttersnipes group here at SE. Lisa and other contributors have great ideas, and Lisa is terrific at posting pictures and helpful links.

I put up hundred year old photographs of people I don't know on my walls in frames.

I'm having some sort of time traveler's free association - wishing for 100 year old photos of people we know. 

I'm in the process of getting a house into a liveable condition, and I am planning one room as a SteamPunk/Ersatz Victorian room.  The furnishings will be based on campaign/safari furniture, so I can move them about and vary them as I need.  I have a couple of old steamer trunks; the leatherbound one I am planning to outfit as a portable desk (I would really like to find a functioning Blickensderfer typewriter...), and the wooden one as a portable bar ;)  The ceiling fan is from Lowe's (; I plan to kitbash the light fixture to something that uses Edison bulbs like the light for the nook formerly known as the closet (, when time and funding permit.  The wall switch is a turn of the century pushbutton type I got at (it was pricey, but not as pricey as the authentic reproduction belt-driven Victorian ceiling fan I found that started at a thousand dollars and went up...).

The rest of the house will be somewhat minimalist Midcentury Modern.  I like Midcentury Modern, and having been a geek for decades before it was Cool, it fits, somehow ;)  Let's see; where to hang the blueprint of the Rolls-Royce Griffon engine (for DieselPunk enthusiasts, take a look at the offerings of and the 4-foot slide rule....


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