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Colonial & Traditional Style: A Journey Through Time

CEO Khai Intela
1926 Colonial Sitting Room - Blabon Linoleum During the 20th century, two design philosophies, traditional and modern, competed for preeminence. While traditional style has stood the test of time, the battle is far from over....

1926 Colonial Sitting Room - Blabon Linoleum 1926 Colonial Sitting Room - Blabon Linoleum

During the 20th century, two design philosophies, traditional and modern, competed for preeminence. While traditional style has stood the test of time, the battle is far from over. Let's explore the captivating world of Colonial and Traditional design and discover their enduring charm.

The Rise of Colonial Style

Colonial, the most notable traditional style from 1900 to 1960, encompasses two substyles: Early American and 18th Century Colonial. The sunroom pictured above, featured in a 1926 Blabon linoleum ad, beautifully exemplifies the blend of formal and casual elements that defines Colonial style.

Americans, unburdened by the weight of long-established European traditions, embraced the freedom to innovate and create new design styles. The desire for historically rooted furnishings surged after significant events like the 1870s American Revolutionary centennial and the 1893 Chicago Columbian Exposition with its grand classical buildings. Although late 1800s designers and architects deemed Colonial styles derivative and lacking imagination, countless homeowners found solace in this style, representing Mother, Patriotism, and the comforting aroma of fresh apple pie.

18th C. Colonial: A Timeless Elegance

The 18th Century Colonial interior style gained immense popularity from the turn of the 20th century onward. With the rise of Colonial Revival homes, a demand for suitable furnishings emerged, leading to the reinterpretation and manufacturing of classic styles to meet market demands.

The 18th C. Colonial style exudes a more formal ambiance, characterized by high-grade furnishings and materials. Tapestries, brocades, velveteens, and linen adorned the fabrics, while carpets comprised exquisite Orientals or Aubussons. English styles heavily influenced the 18th C. Colonial aesthetic.

Homeowners often sought out authentic 18th and early 19th century antiques, including mahogany secretaries, antique wing chairs, and pie crust or game tables. Decorative accessories such as Staffordshire ceramics, candlestick lamps, and gold-leaf mirrors, along with portraits and hunting scenes, graced the walls of these homes. Larger Colonial Revival and Neo-classical style homes, with their spacious rooms and high ceilings, provided the perfect backdrop for such elegant furnishings.

Early American: Comfort and Rustic Charm

In contrast to the formal nature of 18th C. Colonial style, the Early American style presents a more casual and rustic atmosphere. Renowned for its comfort, this style found its place in summer cottages, cabins, and smaller primary homes.

Early 20th-century designers favored painted walls and woodwork for the Early American room. From deep ivory walls with matching wood trim to lighter ivory ceilings, the color palette accentuated the cozy and inviting ambiance. Traditional crafts, such as rag and hooked rugs and hand-pieced quilts, added bursts of color and comfort. Books and magazines dedicated to the American homemaker were filled with ideas for decorating middle-class homes, from furniture selection and arrangement to sewing slipcovers.

Early American furniture leaned towards a heavier aesthetic, with farm furnishings like cupboards and blanket chests taking center stage. Local cabinet-makers crafted arrow- and hoop-backed chairs as well as trestle tables and ladderback chairs with split ash or rush seats.

Fabrics in Early American style tended to be simpler and more affordable, often featuring linen, cotton, and wool. Polished chintz, a versatile material, adorned both rustic and formal rooms. Pine paneling and decorative accents, such as cast iron floor lamps and stenciling, added personal touches to these charming interiors.

1951 Early American Dining Room 1951 Early American Dining Room

Colonial and Traditional Style: A Legacy of Timeless Appeal

Colonial and Traditional design styles have flourished throughout the 20th century, captivating homeowners with their elegance, comfort, and rich history. Their enduring popularity speaks volumes about our deep-rooted connection to tradition, nostalgia, and the essence of home.

So, whether you lean towards the refined allure of 18th C. Colonial or the rustic charm of Early American style, there's a world of beauty and warmth waiting to be discovered within the walls of your own home.

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