The way Americans have traditionally decorated their homes is a reflection of who we are as a people. Unlike the fancy pomp and decorative fluff of many European styles, American homes are neat and functional. We don’t play at being kings; we respect and admire the common man. We are a rough and tumble society that values getting things done, and our decorating has always reflected this.
During the colonial period, the early settlers were limited in their furnishings to what they could make, or what they could carry from overseas. This gave our country an early start with a style that was simple, functional, and effective. From such humble beginnings developed a style that was inherently down to earth, and even later on when European goods became more readily available, many homes still reflected this humble spirit.
Largely isolated from the rest of the world, Americans were free to create their own design trends. However, the isolation was not total, and people still brought ideas and styles from their countries of origin, and applied them to their homes in America. The result was a mix of new trends with a variety of older styles to create a blend that could only be called American.
The Gothic movement was especially influential in American design. One of the dominant European styles, its high vaulted ceilings and stained glass windows blended with humbler American traditions such as whitewashed siding to create a more dramatic America trend.
Since the early American settlers were largely English, they were also heavily influenced by Tudor decorating styles. These lush and intricate designs added bright colors and posh patterns to American furnishings.
Federal style decorating, and architecture, is influenced heavily by classic Greek and roman styles. This includes straight lines, clean and simple spaces, and the use of classic materials such as polished marble.
American country is a younger style, that is opposite the pomp and self importance of Federal and Gothic influenced styles. It has a very light tone, that is cheerful, and simple in a crafty way.
American country style features mix and matched furnishings, with both newer contemporary styles blending in with traditional, hand me down style accessories. Its main philosophy is to be casual, relaxed, and friendly.
Americans are a unique people, and their decorating style reflects this. Mixing and matching various European traditions, the relative isolation of the country has allowed the creation of a completely new style. While this trend does have old world influences, its inherent spirit is entirely one of a kind.