Two major styles competed for predominance throughout the 20th century – traditional and modern. In general, it has been agreed that traditional styling has taken priority, but there has still been a strong following for modern interior design. Colonial style interior design proved exceptionally popular in the first half of the 20th century, with two major sub-styles coming to the fore. Both Early American and 18th century themes were regularly found in homes that exhibited colonial style interior decorating.
How to Get the Early American Look in Your Home
Quilting and Handicrafts
If you are clever at crafts, you could always use one of the many design books available to help you design and create your own quilt. On the other hand, you could always get one made up to your specifications, using samples of your favourite materials. In the Early American style, quilts would be used on beds and walls to live in the space as well as to create warmth. You too, could emulate this style and capitalize on it by adding quilted cushions and pillows. Other crafts have a place in the Early American inspired home too. If you knit or crochet you could make cushion covers or blankets, try hand-making some simple drapes or turn your hand to making a rag rug. Handmade items were a strong feature of Early American style so if you aren’t crafty yourself, look for authentic looking items in stores and scatter them liberally in your rooms.
This era was represented by natural and sombre shades. There is no room in this era for anything vibrant or too colourful. Whites, browns, yellow; reds and greys are all perfect for recreating this style.
Floors and Walls
Hardwood flooring is the key to recreating the look of the period. Cherry, walnut and mahogany are all good choices as long as they are covered with handmade rugs. Walls may be panelled or whitewashed, preferably with featured stencilled decoration of fruit or flowers in borders or murals. Crown moulding and dado rails were popular in this period and are easy to recreate.
The rustic styling of the Early American period led to an emphasis on heavy and traditional furniture. Simple pine, birch or maple cabinets together with trestle tables, trunks and ladder back chairs all have an authentic feel, and should preferably be handmade. Lighting should feature cast iron lamps, with chandeliers and candle holders to complete the period look. Should you have difficulty in locating genuine antiques, there are plenty of excellent reproductions out there that will give the same effect.
The keyword of the Early American era was simplicity. Everything was functional as well as versatile and clutter was a definite no no. Clean lines were the order of the day and so accessories should be kept to a minimum. A few pitchers of flowers, an embroidered sampler, a wicker basket or two and perhaps a linen runner will be enough to give a hint of colonial elegance. Make sure, however, that you don’t leave your room too bare and minimalist – your home should retain a lived in warmth that makes it welcoming and inviting.
Pewter was the metal of the day. It could be found everywhere in the traditional colonial home from serving plates to utensils. Featuring some pewter serving pieces prominently displayed in your home harks back to this simpler time and you could add to this look with some copper cooking pots or brass accessories.
Converting your home to adopt this colonial style interior decoration will serve to make your home elegant and simple. The style lends itself to creating bright, airy interiors that make a pleasant and attractive living environment.
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