Today, when the mass of shelter media talk about “mid-century” they usually focus on the “modern.” But I believe that in the immediate post-World War II-era and well beyond, Early American decors were far more common. I’ve talked a lot on this site about the influence of Royal Barry Wills and his Cape Cod homes. This style of home was massively popular for many years following the war.
True ranch-style homes in the Cliff May style took much longer to take hold and even then, merchant builders all across the country designed ranches with Cape Cod and Colonial design touches. And inside, we often saw: Ranch-style floor plans with Early American decors. Key elements of an Early American decor could include Paneling, brick fireplaces with colonial-style molding, maple furniture, Americana crown molding, ceilings, chair molding, decor from… Colonial days! Here are three more of my favorite stories about Early American design and decor:
- Mid-Century Modest Manifesto
- Mid Century Modest
- The Royal HomeDesigns
From a religious and social standpoint, Shakers were radicals when they arrived in New York from England just before the American Revolution, in 1774. Like Quakers, they are pacifists. In contrast to the Quakers and most other religions, the Shakers, officially the United Society of Believers in Christ’s Second Coming, began with a woman leader. Ann Lee, also called “Mother Ann,” brought her Shakers to America, and her followers were held as equals regardless of their sex. Notably, Shakers do not marry, and they take a vow of celibacy — the focus is on the community as family and over the individual.
In American decor used simple homemade furniture of native materials, homespun fabrics, and pewter. The style, known as Early Colonial, has been revived for re-creating early American decors. The formal Late Colonial period used modified Georgian mansions and polished mahogany furniture of English type. Pennsylvania German decoration based on European provincial styles is also much reproduced.
Matching and Coordinating
Many homes can often have a matchy-matchy feel. Fabrics and prints are used repeatedly throughout a room, while Americans tend to pick up a couple of colors and carry them throughout a space in order to create a coordinated, but not matching, look. Also, floral prints can be very, very key to the Brits—as this Nina Campbell room certainly proves.
Collections, Americans tend to emphasize the virtues of fluttering (thanks, Marie Kongo). And as for a star-spangled space to unwind? A relaxed minimalist sanctuary, complete with white bedding à la Homeschooling ever-more prevalent vision, is frequently preferred to a treasure trove. Americans, like interior designer Ryan Koran, often lean toward a more modern look. Americans, such as boundary-pushing interior designer Kelly Wrestler, are more likely to use fewer statement pieces (like a giant gold sculptural head, for example) to pack in punch. Black steel and glass doors can serve several purposes, and they’re showing up in many homes across America. They keep entryways from getting too dark and add some interest to shower doors.
Generally speaking, the American home decor style features a relaxed arrangement of furniture and accessories with a homemade sensibility. New homeowners and sellers looking to accomplish a stylized home staging on a budget will appreciate the cost efficiency of American country design. The use of salvage and craft-inspired pieces can make decorating a fun scavenger hunt or afternoon project for antique lovers and artistic types. Novice workers can create furniture pieces that incorporate into the design.