What Is the Art Deco Style?

How to Identify Architectural Styles in the Washington, DC Area

The Washington, DC metropolitan area is extremely versatile, featuring a large number of architectural styles. Art Deco is one such style, with distinctive features. But there are so many different styles, so how can you identify Art Deco?

What Is an Art Deco Style House?

What is an Art Deco home? What are its distinguishing characteristics? Art Deco buildings and houses are characterized by their monolithic appearance with applied decorative motifs. Elements include:

  • Roofs with parapets, spires, or tower-like constructs
  • Steel and aluminum, especially with glass blocks and decorative opaque plate glass
  • Windows arranged in a continuous horizontal band of glass
  • Door surrounds embellished with either reeding (convex decoration) or fluting (concave decoration)

Brief Summary of the Art Deco Style

A creative but short-lived movement, Art Deco influenced the architecture of most American cities. Art Deco was first applied to public and commercial buildings in the 1920s. Although individual homes were rarely designed in the Art Deco style, architects and developers, especially in Greater Washington, DC, found that the style adapted quite well to apartment buildings. Buildings were richly embellished with hard-edged, low-relief designs: geometric shapes (including chevrons and ziggurats) and stylized floral and sunrise patterns.

Pictures of Art Deco Style Architecture

Kennedy-Warren Apartments


Greyhound Terminal


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“ I just wanted to tell you how happy we are with the work you designed and oversaw...We are so proud to show the kitchen and family room to friends and relatives, and love their reactions (gasps of awe and jealousy). Mike and Enio were amazing, working so hard -- every single day, beginning at 7am -- and paying such close attention to details I never would have noticed. They clearly treated this job as their "baby," not wanting to cut corners even if they could get away with it...They also were great about cleaning up; I am positive the garage is cleaner now than before this job started! ”

A.C., Bethesda, MD