House in Colonial Williamsburg House in Colonial Williamsburg

"I'm frequently asked, 'What is the typical American home style?' There's only one answer: 'There isn't a typical style!' American homes not only reflect the era they were built in but are also influenced by the origins of settlers in different regions.

The first settlers lived very simply, as survival was often the primary concern due to the lack of essential resources. Over two centuries until around 1780, homes were built in a initially simple and minimalist Colonial style, which over time incorporated elaborate wooden decorations. In the 18th century, large inviting Georgian mansions were constructed, influenced by pattern books from English architects. Typical features of this style include fireplaces with elegant wood paneling, wooden wainscoting, muntin windows, ornate built-in cabinets, decorated ceilings, and wooden moldings. The colonial color palette featured natural pigments in shades like cream, gray, green, light blue, and yellow.

One decorative direction is the Folk Art style, characterized by colorful craftsmanship and American motifs. Vibrant earth tones were used for wall painting, wooden boxes, and other artworks. Folkloric and primitive motifs include sheep, ravens, and houses. Stencil painting, tin containers and decorations, and colorful quilts as wall hangings are also typical.

After achieving independence, the young republic built its first government buildings in the Federal style, based on the models of ancient Roman and Greek democracies. The elegant style featured curved, intricately detailed ceiling and window decorations, round or semi-circular rooms. Semi-circular windows were often installed above entrance doors. The prominent, symmetrical columns at the entrance, following the Greek style, were visible from afar. The American eagle as a symbol enjoyed great popularity.

The romantic spirit also manifested in the Victorian era. Many imposing public buildings and monuments were constructed in the East and Midwest of America during this time. Victorian gems were especially the decorated bathrooms, as electricity and running water were introduced. Bathtubs featured stylish claw feet and embellished and polished fixtures. Upholstered furniture in bold and dark colors was widespread.

The popular interior design styles of the present are based on historical styles: Colonial, Victorian, Country, and Folkloric. Interesting variations of these styles are also highly popular:

  • Rustic Ranch or Log Cabin style with characteristic stone fireplaces and walls, wood, metal, and leather accessories.
  • Shabby Chic, where interesting flea market finds, possibly painted in pastel colors, create a cozy home. Simple wooden floors and beams are ideal. Shabby Chic enthusiasts are regulars at antique markets, always searching for new decorative pieces.
  • The New England or Coastal style incorporates blue and white colors, moderately used lighthouse and maritime accessories, striped fabrics, and wallpapers.

It's recommended to decorate according to a style, at least room by room. Of course, individual favorite furniture pieces of any style are always allowed. Numerous interior design magazines and books provide examples, so everyone can find their favorite style. But following the motto 'Good classic design stays forever,' one shouldn't chase short-lived trends.

In the next blog posts about living and interior design, I'll show some of my photos related to the various styles."