I’ve always been captivated by steampunk- it’s such a funky, mysterious sort of style. It’s easily recognizable, yet each creator is free to make it his or her own.
Steampunk style is perfect for a middle or high school classroom. You can create a cohesive and playful theme without seeming babyish or overly matchy-matchy.
When I think of steampunk, I think of gears, pipes, goggles, overly complicated machinery, fantastic modes of transportation, pocket watches, top hats, hot air balloons, and ornate motifs.
Since much of the steampunk style is rooted in Victorian design and fashion, try incorporating Victorian elements, such as ferns, Edison bulbs, stripes, florals, and old books. Victorian style made a come-back in the late ’80s and early ’90s, so today, secondhand shops are full of cheap, gaudy replica items that just might blend in great with your steampunk theme!
The best source I’ve found for old books like the ones in my pictures and unique vintage items are mom-and-pop thrift stores in small towns. It’s harder to come across these treasures in chain thrift stores like Goodwill or Salvation Army, and if you do, the price will usually be inflated. But try searching for a privately-owned thrift store in a rural area, and you’ll probably discover a gold mine!
You can make quite a statement with a couple rolls of bulletin board paper used as wall paper! I found this brick bulletin board paper at my Hobby Lobby, and I’ve also seen it at The Schoolbox teachers’ store and Amazon. It will give your room a vintage feel, and make your steampunk treasures pop! If you have drywall in your classroom, just staple it to the wall, or for cinder block walls, try Mavalous Tape.
My final steampunk decor tip for you is to never underestimate the power of spray paint! If you haven’t taken a stroll down the spray paint aisle in your local craft or hardware store lately, you really should! You can get all kinds of metallic and even textured finishes that will allow you to transform plastic, cardboard, or even fabric into a realistic-looking steampunk item!
Try using oil-rubbed bronze spray paint on PVC pipes and connectors to create decorative exposed pipe lines to display in your classroom. Or use copper and nickle spray paints on plastic gears from a toy. I’ve noticed different wire baskets at my Dollar Tree the past couple of years- try spray painting them for an industrial look. (I don’t recommend spray-painting the plastic baskets from Dollar Tree, however. It didn’t last for me.)
What tips and ideas do you have for creating a steampunk classroom? Share in the comments below!