Surrealism in home decor: how to turn your home into a work of art

Surrealism in home decor: how to turn your home into a work of art

By Iona Bower on

Delighting in the unusual, the playful and the absurd, surrealism is a trend we think we can get on board with. Here’s how. 

We live in strange times, it must be said. So it’s almost unsurprising that, following the global pandemic and the shutdown of the world as we knew it, we are embracing the absurd as we emerge. When surrealism made its post-war World War One debut, it was in response to rationalism and was all about opposing oppressive and sterile times. Its post-pandemic revival has seen a more joyful and playful response to dark times. With the world having been rather turned on its head during the pandemic, this time we’re learning to revel in the new, the bizarre and the unusual. 

The world of fashion has already thrown itself into the surrealism trend, and interiors are swiftly following. Here’s how to achieve the look in your home, whether you’re wanting a mere hint of surrealism or to go full on Salvador Dali. 


Salvador Dali's Mae West Lips sofa in red, photographed in front of a pastel pink painted wall and placed on a white and grey leopard print large carpet

Perhaps the most iconic piece of Surrealist furniture - Salvador Dali's Mae West Lips sofa, can add so much joy and personality into your space and serve as a quirky piece of art that would make a great conversation starter. Steal this look with our Mellow Pink paint colour. Photo by Francois Halard via

1. Eschew plans and embrace the chaos.

Surrealism is all about merging reality with the absurd in response to the weirdness of the world, and doing so in a way that encompasses humour and optimism. In his Surrealist Manifesto, Andre Breton described surrealism as “pure psychic automatism”. So chuck out your mood boards for this one and do as the fancy takes you. This trend is all about spontaneity. Fancy an Electric Blue feature wall? Don’t ponder upon it. Just do it!


Ultramarine blue painted wall with a double bed photographed in front of it with white pillows and blue-lilac smiley face patterned bedding

Our Electric Blue paint colour is pretty surreal already, so it's the perfect choice for a surrealism-inspired home decor palette. Here it is in the bedroom of the wonderful Maia @maia_mennell.


2. Use colour in wonderful ways.

There’s nothing ‘expected’ about surrealism. It’s all about embracing the whimsical and wonderful. This is a chance to break all the rules, so go for colours you might not often see in certain rooms - why not orange in a bedroom, or lilac in a bathroom? Seeing a colour somewhere unexpected makes the viewer question, consider and feel alive in a way that a magnolia hallway never will. (Surrealism is really speaking our language here.)

If you’re stuck for colour inspiration, try some homage to surrealism heroes such as YesColours’ Friendly Peach paint colour in a nod to Dali’s Lobster telephone, or Electric Red for a backdrop reminiscent of the Mae West Lips Sofa created by Dali and Edward James for Monkton House. Speaking of which, a Joyful Lilac a la Monkton’s joyful exterior would definitely offer a surrealist dose of optimism.


A split wall design with white on the left and red on the right, photographed behind a pastel blue vintage Mid-Century sideboard, a wooden desk and a velvet green desk chair

Try our Electric Red paint colour for a full-on Surrealism mode, turning your home into a whimsical space full of fun, passion, adventure and entertainment. To achieve this colour palette, pair our Electric Red paint with our Friendly Blue and Loving Green paint colours. Simply irresistible.

3. Incorporate a few surprises.


Remember that dream when you were at a job interview and you looked down and the desk had human legs? That’s what you’re aiming for; a dreamlike feel, where everything feels normal at first… and then you realise you’re taking a phone call on a lobster. This Birdy Side Table from Urban Outfitters will do the job admirably. Or look for pieces that play with form, such as this Gold Drip Table from Rockett St George, which has the appearance of melting slowly onto the floor.


Mouse lamp painted with ultramarine blue paint colour placed on top of a fireplace alcove

Want to turn your existing home decor pieces into a whimsical work of art? Add a touch of surrealism to your interior by upcycling your items with our bestselling Electric Blue paint colour. Its delicate velvety finish will add a sprinkle of magic that no other paint will achieve, and your guests and family will surely appreciate your creativity.


4. Play with size and perspective.


It’s true: size matters. And messing with size and perspective can have a thrillingly unsettling effect on the eye. One of the main pillars of surrealism is playfulness using size and trompe l’oeil, and it’s very easy to achieve with one or two statement pieces. Look for everyday items in the ‘wrong’ size - giant desk lamps, perhaps, like this Giant Anglepoise Floor Lamp. Or go for a rug that plays with your eyes’ perception like this Optical Illusions Rug from Etsy. 

5. Nod to the surrealist masters.


If all else fails, go bold or go home with a direct reference to the Surrealists. A collection of differently styled clocks on one wall looks suitably fun (and strange), or one of these Daliesque ‘melting’ clocks would make a statement, even if it doesn’t tell you the time particularly clearly. Alternatively, perch your bottom comfortably on this Lip-themed sofa - a copy of the Mae West Lips sofa created by Dali and Edward James. One or two bold pieces like these, combined with a splash of optimistic surrealist colour, is more than enough to introduce a bit of ‘weird’... in a good way.


Muted blue colour painted wall photographed behind a vintage rusty orange chair

For a vintage Surrealism-inspired look, combine our Mellow Blue paint colour with our Loving Orange paint. Add a splash of our Electric Red paint colour on small details around and there you have it - a quirky, whimsical colour palette that's already a piece of art itself.


If you’re looking for a little help when choosing the right paint colour for your Surrealism-inspired home decor palette, book a colour consultation with us. It's easy, it's fun... and there's a free option available too.

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