Colonial Style Living Room Design


Colonial style is sometimes thought to be austere and not “hip” enough. But it all depends on how you use it. Colonial style is almost an equal combination of European, American, and rustic styles melded together.Like America itself, colonial style is a melting pot of different influences. As a mostly agrarian society in the 1700s, there was not a need for large mansions unless the homeowner was very wealthy. Much of the population spent their day outdoors working the fields. The small homes had simple, yet elegant décor some of which was brought on the ships to America. Trunks held items including china, clothing and other necessities while traveling and once in America the trunks could then be reused as furniture – waste not, want not. Most often, local carpenters built the homes using indigenous dark woods and pine flooring.

Let’s look strictly at decorating the living room. Don’t want to be too overwhelming in the beginning until you determine if you like the style or not, especially if you’re not that familiar with it. Your family room, or living room, has that name for a reason. It’s the room in which the family comes together to watch television, movies, play games, talk and relax. It’s basically where the majority of family life happens.

Floor It

Keep the floors simple with smooth pine or other hardwood. Use rich fabric rugs, oriental, or Persian with deep colors. A popular rug of the time was a rag rug and you can use those in less formal areas like bathroom, kitchen or bedroom.

Utilitarian to Ornate

Colonial furniture should be unpretentious and can be compared to French Country Furniture yet elegant and crafted in dark woods like mahogany, maple or hickory. Some chairs and sofas may have ornate accents including rolled arms, button tufting, and heavy velvet or tapestry for upholstery. Durable fabrics also show up here including cotton, linen and wool.

British Traditions Collection

Color Me Colonial

Colors used during the colonial period weren’t so much popular as they were based on natural pigments that were in the environment. No home improvement stores for these homeowners! Cream-colored walls were prevalent while furniture and accessories borrowed colors from nature: deep red, mustard yellow, dark green, taupe and shades of brown. Wallpaper was expensive, so stenciling was popular. Fruit and flowers were the big motifs so think about incorporating accessories with these likenesses.

American Accent

Accent pieces run the gamut from handcrafted to recycled to practical:

  • Braided and rag rugs were made to add warmth and color to the homes. This would be especially welcome in winter when wood floors get cold.
  • The eagle was a popular symbol in decorative items of the time.
  • Quilts, framed needlework, and pottery.
  • A few other items to consider are: blanket chests, trunks, wooden settees, rocking chairs, and a grandfather clock.

Gather ‘Round the Fireplace

During the colonial period, fireplaces often had moldings and motifs of classical images or fruits and flowers. Some colonial homes may have had a fireplace in every room, but the majority of the earlier homes had one fireplace and it was used for heating, cooking and light. The room with the fireplace was called the “keeping room”. This is where families slept, ate, and gathered for warmth in winter months.

Light Fixtures

Colonial style lighting came in the form of wrought iron sconces, oil lamps, and candles. For current varieties, you can choose lighting with faux candle lights to make it look early American. Think about a chandelier over the dining table and candle-type sconces on either side of the fireplace wall to highlight your colonial style.

The author, Dina Janicke is obsessed with everything related to French country and colonial design!  She scours the universe for the best pieces and sells them on her website

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *

You may use these HTML tags and attributes: <a href="" title=""> <abbr title=""> <acronym title=""> <b> <blockquote cite=""> <cite> <code> <del datetime=""> <em> <i> <q cite=""> <strike> <strong>