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Seven Steps To Kitsch Decor -                                        A Guide. An Exposé

Seven Steps To Kitsch Decor - A Guide. An Exposé

Boho, Retro, Art or Kitsch. Porcelain deer. Boho Lounge. Cat painting

What exactly is kitsch?

A close friend once swore she had not a tacky, common or tasteless bone in her body.  Even though she does have very good taste, I beg to differ.

I’m of the opinion that everyone has a little kitsch in them – a guilty little Tretchikoff print or cushion, a porcelain figurine that just melts your heart, or an obsession with the Chinese fortune cat (guilty).

My collection of kitsch cats - each a treasured gift

My collection of kitsch cats - each a treasured gift

People’s opinion of kitsch differs – some even call it cheesy, quirky or fun – and you may find yourself greatly offended when your collection of porcelain animals is exposed as kitsch.

The origin of the word kitsch is German and according to good old Wikipedia it refers to mass produced art inspired by popular culture. People have been shaming what others hold dearly as kitsch since the 1800’s!

Far older than that, however, is the sentiment that “art, like beauty, is in the eye of the beholder” and since kitsch is in fact an art form, it too is open to interpretation.

You could be kitsch!

The long and short of it is, kitsch is everywhere and I see lines between kitsch and retro, kitsch and shabby chic and kitsch and eclectic being blurred all over the show. And because I’d hate for anyone to think they haven’t a kitsch bone in their body, when in fact it’s lurking in your very home, I have put together a list of identifying traits of the décor style which is kitsch.

You may use it to kitsch-check yourself, or to kitsch out your house. The good news is that there are certain items which, in the right setting, can be objects of style and envy, rather than scorn.

For those of you who will be using the guide to get kitschy inspiration and décor ideas, I salute thee. Kitsch is a legitimate style in its own right and popular for a reason – it’s pretty!

1.       Animals

The famously kitsch  The Widow  by Frederick Dielman, now in the Boston Public Library

The famously kitsch The Widow by Frederick Dielman, now in the Boston Public Library

It pains me to note this, but if you have a painting, print or statuette of an animal depicted with human-like qualities (wearing clothing, sitting around a table), you have kitsch art.  It also happens to be one of my favourite things!

2.       Plastic

Plastic by its very nature is popular culture and although there are some examples of where plastic can look elegant, they are scarce.  So if you have any plastic décor objects, you may be kitsch.

3.       Porcelain and China

vintage tea cups and pots, tea station, turquoise

Of course if I rule out porcelain and china as well as plastic as decor materials, we’re only left with wood and metal, which is a little limiting. The same type of porcelain object can be ridiculously kitsch and uber class at the same time - it just depends on how you use it.  Delft is an excellent example of this.

4.       Religious Symbols

Unfortunately, various religious symbols have come to represent pure cheese due to their uptake in popular culture. They can look both stylish and tacky, but if you’re not a follower of a certain religion, you should consider whether it’s in good taste to display its symbols as part of your décor.  I’m not commenting on which of these uses are tacky or stylish, as here it is more a case of intent than taste.

5.       Bright Colours

Brightly coloured retro dining room

No, I don’t have anything against colour. (If you don't believe me, have a look at this colourful client design board we did.) They’re such an important part of how we perceive and feel about things, but careful consideration of colour combinations goes a long way.  You also don’t have to be afraid that any of the colours will feel left out if you don’t use them.

6.       Florals

These chairs covered in floral plastic...

These chairs covered in floral plastic...

And more specifically mixing florals is where the danger lies.  I love to mix florals and patterns as much as the next decorator, but when not done right, the results can be overwhelming.  Check out this article for advice on how to mix prints and florals.

7.       Gallery Walls

So full, yet so peaceful. Well thought out retro.

So full, yet so peaceful. Well thought out retro.

“As a descriptive term, kitsch originated in the art markets of Munich in the 1860s and the 1870s, describing cheap, popular, and marketable pictures and sketches.”

If this Wikipedia morsel is anything to go by, it would seem that all the funky framed prints we love to buy online for our gallery walls, are kitsch.  Almost like this stunning Chanel inspired baby room we did for a client.

Whether you want to kitsch out or class up your space, contact me for an online consultation.


Linen Curtain Ideas…                                               And Some Linen Look Fabrics

Linen Curtain Ideas… And Some Linen Look Fabrics

Be Fabulous.                                                                      Be a Fabric Designer

Be Fabulous. Be a Fabric Designer