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A Guide to Classy Nerd Décor
Geek chic and nerd chic are so the thing right now. People are combining that lovely mixture of glamour and geekiness all over the place. I'm glad to see that the look is more appreciated these days, but I've always been a fan of this quirky decorating aesthetic.
Are you interested in giving your place some stylish but nerdy flare? Good. That means you have excellent taste. I'll give you some ideas and decorating tips to help you get started.
Remember: Timeless Elegance Plus Quirky References Equals Nerd Chic
Let's start with the basics: The key to chic décor is timeless elegance, and if you want something to look timeless, you should opt for simple designs or objects and colors that have been relatively fashionable for many, many decades. The key to nerdy décor is inside references—preferably of the more obscure type. Combine these two things and you've got geek-chic decor—an explosion of awesomeness that'll make you smile whenever you encounter it!
Keep It Consistent and Balanced
When combining nerdy and chic décor, you might find yourself asking: what goes where? Should the furniture be geeky? Should the lighting be nerdy? Should there be classic paintings encased in mock spaceship windows? Should I have French doors or mod my wall into a giant, hydraulic-powered sliding door that makes a proper whooshing sound whenever it shuts?
How to Mix Furniture, Lightning, and Accessories
The answer to this is simple: Whatever you do, you should be consistent, or the marriage of chic and geek will seem more like the result of a freak tornado. If you want to have nerdy furniture and lighting, put more chic accents around the room. If you wish to lounge about on timeless, elegant furniture, boost up the nerd factor through the art you put on your walls.
With my living room, I chose chic furniture, color, and lighting complimented by nerdy wall décor and accessories. I find this is the easiest way to go since it's much easier and cheaper to obtain nerdy art and tchotchkes than it is to find truly nerdy fixtures and furniture (they're out there—they just take forever to build or cost an arm and a leg). Chic furniture, on the other hand, is all over the place, plus very easy to find on good ol' Craigslist.
What About Art?
Choosing nerdy art for your geek chic room is going to be the most enjoyable part of the decorating process. Believe me. I took three weeks poking through Etsy and the personal websites of my favorite artists, drooling over the various sketches, prints, and paintings I had to choose from.
Choose a Piece of Art to Inspire a Theme
If you're a proper nerd, chances are you already have several artists / prints / types of fan art that you'd like to have on your walls. Heck, you probably already own several prints and paintings! I bet many of them are signed, even!
If there is a particular piece that you own or really love, consider decorating a particular room with it (that is to say, its colors and aesthetic) as a theme. If you don't have a particular piece you'd like to decorate around, consider which sorts of colors you'd like to work with and choose art that jibes well with those colors.
I started off decorating my living room by choosing a pink and green color scheme, then I went online and picked out prints that went with my color scheme. I also decided to go with a theme and got prints related to transit (Star Wars characters on bikes, silhouettes of royalty overlaid on metro maps of their respective capital cities, girls riding on a five-person bike...). Themes are fun and a great way to tie different nerdy genres together since no true nerd likes only one thing.
Another easy way to tie different prints together is through matching frames. I got my frames made to order on Amazon.com, and they were REALLY inexpensive. They come in a bunch of different colors on the site—I highly recommend them since I found that frames can get pretty pricey!
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Additional Decorating Tips
Going for the geek chic look is not very hard—surely you already get the gist. For good measure, however, here are some additional pointers:
- All geeky art should be properly displayed in chic frames: Just tacking a poster to a wall is not chic. Don't ruin the look. Besides, your mint-condition Revenge of the Jedi poster deserves more protection than that!
- Avoid clutter: While many a nerdy abode is packed to the brim with AWESOME stuff, there is nothing chic about hoarding. Though you might feel tempted to have every single geeky object you own on display, it is better to properly store the majority of your treasures and exhibit them throughout your home on a rotating basis. Think of your rooms as galleries that enjoy seasonal shifts.
- Keep it clean: Another (perhaps unfair) association folks have with nerdy decorating is that it gets kind of gross. Grossness is yet another aspect that will obliterate your chances of coming across as chic. Vacuum regularly. Dust regularly. Discard pizza boxes after use. Wash dishes daily. It might seem like hard work, but it is worth the effort.
- Display more than just wall art and figurines: If you're a true geek, you might have some fun costume elements—perhaps a Daft Punk helmet that you built from scratch or some fantastic steampunk goggles. These costume pieces, when casually hung on a coat rack or by a door, can add a fun theatrical mood to your room, so don't leave them in the closet!
- Put your key rings to use: There are so many cool, nerdy keychains and cell phone charms out there; why not display some in your collection by hanging them off of the odd handle, hook, or lamp?
- Have fun with serving platters and stands: One fabulous way to combine chic and geeky aesthetics is to place geeky objects on chic food platters. The fun thing about collecting the odd vintage cake stand serving platter is that they come in handy for parties and group meals.
- Don't be afraid to be fanciful: I'm not going to lie . . . I definitely added a canopy to my living room. It's a bit childish, I'll admit, but sometimes it's fun to take the chic look a bit farther when combining it with nerdy flourishes since it accentuates an overall playful tone.
The Kitchen: An Intermediate Option
If you like the general premise of geek chic design but don't want to re-do an entire room, consider starting with your kitchen! You can augment your kitchen with various fun, stylish-but-nerdy accents without making much effort or spending much money.
You might, for example, put some fun nerdy prints on your fridge and rotate them out every now and then so they don't become invisible to you. While we're on the subject of refrigerators, there really cannot be enough said about geeky magnets. They're easy to come by and are typically much more interactive and fun than most of the art that ends up on vertical surfaces. Just make sure things don't get dingy, dirty, or cluttered, and make sure you keep mixing things up.
You can also improve the geek factor in your kitchen by utilizing nerdy kitchen implements! One may, for example, utilize lightsaber chopsticks, have a Starship Enterprise pizza cutter, rock Star Wars-themed aprons, cookie cutters, pancake molds, and spatulas, and serve pi-shaped ice. Believe me. There is an endless supply of geeky kitchen accessories you can choose from if you want to jack up your kitchen's awesome quotient.
Just Have Fun!
Ultimately, geek chic decorating is whatever you make of it. Be chic. Be geeky. Don't worry too much (half of being chic is about executing a look effortlessly, after all). So long as you fill your rooms with colors, furniture, images, objects (and technology, obviously) that you love, your place will be perfect.
I hope you enjoy adding nerdy, classy flourishes to your rooms as much as I did. If you have any additional tips or thoughts on geek chic décor, feel free to share them in the comments!
RobertZander on May 06, 2015:
Did you ever try out a moveing picture frame ?
Its so cool when your guests realise after a few hours, that your picture is actually moveing :)
Corey from Northfield, MA on July 11, 2012:
I like nerdy flare and the plates with nerd knick knacks is super dooper inspiring. Thanks for sharing this!
Simone Haruko Smith (author) from San Francisco on January 20, 2012:
Oh no, Brainy Bunny!!! Well... I bet they'll calm down eventually!
Brainy Bunny from Lehigh Valley, Pennsylvania on January 19, 2012:
I'm jealous! When I lived alone, I was too young and broke to decorate anything. Now that I can afford to have some nice things, I have rambunctious kids and a husband who doesn't share my taste in decorating. Waah!
Lisa from WA on November 26, 2011:
Great ideas. I've never heard of geek chic but I definitely want to give it a try.
Simone Haruko Smith (author) from San Francisco on November 18, 2011:
Hehee, then I must say you have EXCELLENT taste, kittythedreamer!! I honestly think Geek Chic is THE way to go... at least for chic geeks!
Kitty Fields from Summerland on November 17, 2011:
Too cool! I've always loved this type of décor. I can't imagine you decorating your house in any other way. :)
Simone Haruko Smith (author) from San Francisco on September 21, 2011:
They're real things, Will Apse. I adore them. I eat with them daily. Screw The Forks!
And I LOVE the idea of some pink and green ugly dolls in my room! They'd look great, and serve as excellent pillows. I'll have to get my hands on some! Thanks for the flattering compliment and excellent suggestion.
Mae Williams from USA on September 07, 2011:
Very funny approach to interiors. I love interiors ! May I add to your nerd /greek room?
I think you need some ugly dolls in pink and green. Use them as pillows on your chairs.It would be cool and the irony is so there with the classic chic lines you have! Your feng shui is deliberate and fun!
Will Apse on September 03, 2011:
I liked the idea of the 'light saber chopsticks'.
In fact, I guffawed!
Simone Haruko Smith (author) from San Francisco on September 02, 2011:
Thanks so much for the kind words, vocalcoach!!! I do hope you got some fun new ideas from the Hub.
As for taking photos- the more you take, the better they get!
The music decorating theme you've got going sounds fantastic! And Oh. My. Gawd. A SIGNED BIG BIRD PHOTO??? Just when I don't think you can get any cooler!!! Having such different art on your walls might not be bad at all- they all have a theme, right? And if you have the pieces in coordinated frames, those can act as an additional aesthetic element that ties them together.
That said, I SO want to fly off to Nashville and see this! The veggie burger and sweet potato fries sound pretty good right about now. And my gosh... I am SO jealous of your Big Bird photo!!! I bet there's an awesome story behind that!
Audrey Hunt from Pahrump NV on September 01, 2011:
Simone - Your hub is an answer to my prayer. I have to be the worlds geekiest geek and am always searching for new and clever ideas. I found them right here in your hubalicious article! I would love to take a tour through your crib. No doubt I would be "oooooing" and "ahhhhhing".
I see by your photos, that you are also handy with a camera. Wish I were...sigh.
My theme is, of course,is music. I have some one-of- a kind pictures on the walls which house my grand piano. One is a 13th century scroll of music, mounted on leather and framed with a hand designed antique frame.
Then, a huge opposite, is a chromed framed hand drawn picture of big bird sitting on my piano in Hawaii, drawn and autographed for me by The Big Bird himself.
And yet other wall art is a large mounted print in black of Beethoven, and the contrasting wall shares framed photos of Frank Sinatra. Adding to this are my framed Degrees, Certificates etc and a photo of a grand piano sitting in snow from a Jazz Festival. Help!!!!!!!!
If I fly you to Nashville and treat you to a veggie burger with sweet potatoe fries - will you help me?
Obviously, I need it:) Rated up and across the board on this one.
Simone Haruko Smith (author) from San Francisco on August 30, 2011:
Your "stuff room" sounds amazing, 50! You really must write a Hub about it!
I'm actually with you on minimalism, Hyphenbird. All the other rooms in my apartment are sparsely furnished and undecorated.
They're a match made in heaven, anglnwu! I would SO dig giving your place a geek chic makeover, hehee!
Stephanie Henkel, your rock and shell collection sounds amazing- and how lovely that each object has a memory attached! That's how it is with the things I've decided to hold on to as well. Memories make for the best decorations!
Oooh, I hope you mix a little geek into your decorating from now on, Emma Harvey!
You're so right, Chatkath. Thanks for the compliment, too!
A Hightower, I'm going to add a link to the etsy artist who makes those prints to this Hub. They're super reasonably priced, and the seller is lovely!
Alexis in Brooklyn from New York, NY on August 29, 2011:
I am loving this Hub! I need to make another cup of coffee and read slowly, again. Also, I MUST have the Marie Antoinette Paris Metro art (and the framing tips are perfect, thx). Too fabulous for words. Go Geek Chic. Thanks Simone!
Kathy from California on August 27, 2011:
What an absolutely fun hub Simone, one's home should reflect things that they love, memories, experiences and décor that welcome you home every day. And I couldn't agree more, decorating is what you make it! Thanks for sharing your fabulous geek chic place with us - it is adorable, I especially like the frame tip, yours look great! The matching frames make a huge difference...
Emma Kisby from Berkshire, UK on August 27, 2011:
Love this hub - I am so inspired!
Stephanie Henkel from USA on August 26, 2011:
I love your geeky chick decorating ideas! Best of all, I love the idea of decorating your home with things you love. My house has random rocks and shells -- in bowls and jars and here and there on bookcases and shelves. It may seem weird to the casual observer, but they remind me of places I love and wonderful experiences.
anglnwu on August 26, 2011:
Geek and chic can go together after all. Love your examples--the geeky objects on serving plates look fun and wacky. Maybe, you should come over to my place and help me with a house makeover. Fabulous.
Brenda Barnes from America-Broken But Still Beautiful on August 26, 2011:
It all does look like great fun. Alas, as a minimalist, I love less. But I really adore virtual window shopping ( I think a Hub is in there) and mentally just purchased about $1,000!
50 Caliber from Arizona on August 26, 2011:
I enjoyed the pictures and believe were I to walk in I could look around for a good while, I am no decorator by any means but I do have 1 single room 24x24 with 14 foot ceiling that became the come and sit a while room as the walls are completed with many artifacts of southwestern lore. Folks like it more than I and just wall to wall move and stare asking questions about everything. That tells me by mistake I did something right. I've pondered a hub on my "stuff room".
Great hub and inspiration, 50
Simone Haruko Smith (author) from San Francisco on August 25, 2011:
Thanks so much QudsiaP1 and VENZKHVAM! Geek chic style pretty much speaks for itself, eh?
And you, nikki_m, are my hero. Will you PLEASE make a Hub about these throw blankets???? THEY SOUND AMAZING!!!!! AAAARGHH!!PWOEJGSPOFSJBOPESJR:!!!
YESSS! POWER TO THE GEEK GIRLS!! I know you're going to have a ball picking out nerdy art for your apartment, applecsmith. There is a huge amount of golden stuff out there, and it's all so reasonably priced!!
Your place sounds charming, FloraBreenRobison! And hey- you've still got a touch of geek added to the mix with those Star Trek model dolls though. Nice one!
FloraBreenRobison on August 25, 2011:
Thanks for sharing photos of your home. My walls are covered with Mom's artwork and photographs of my cat. My walls are off white so that I can move paintings around so that I don't have to colour match. Most of my furniture has neutral colours for the same reason. I don't really fit nerd or geek quite in the level where I have any costumes or anything like that. But the knowledge I have of classic Hollywood trivia-long before I was born and full of famous nameless faces whose face I can name-it does surprise people. I do have a couple of Star Trek model dolls, though-of Dr. McCoy and Captain Kirk.
Carrie Smith from Dallas, Texas on August 25, 2011:
This. is. Fabulous. Simone Smith FTW! I love your geek chic ideas and can't wait to find some great nerdy type art I can use in my apartment. Geek (girls) UNITE! I'm especially going to use your "explosion of awesomeness" theory. Thanks for sharing this fantastic post. Voted up - funny and awesome.
nikki_m from Kansas City, Missouri on August 25, 2011:
This entire Hub is win.
My current project is making granny-square 8-bit Mario character throw blankets for my couch! Lots of work but they're pretty much perfect for my own geeky abode.
Awesome Hub, loving the geek love
VENZKHVAM from Milk way galaxy, trying to find a more adventurous place in another galaxy with my great followers on August 25, 2011:
yeah i really loved it Simon you have real good way of explaining the things with lots of information i like it keep writing more. iam following you with your permissiveness
QudsiaP1 on August 25, 2011:
LOve It... Love it... LOVE IT!
Did I emphasise enough? :P