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American Colonial Style and Decor | Real Estate News & Insights

The American Colonial style from 1730 to 1790 blends classical English Georgian elements and indigenous American contributions for a relaxed, traditional feel.

Colonists, especially the well-to-do, embraced the sophisticated Georgian-style paneled walls, Oriental rugs, silk damask fabrics, elaborate drapery and linear Chippendale furniture.

American craftsmen added a democratic flavor with comfortable yet stylish signature elements, such as subtly designed silver service ware, the grandfather clock, Pennsylvania-German glassware and curvilinear Queen Anne-style furniture with trademark cabriole legs.

Walls in American Colonial Homes


Depending on household wealth, walls were plastered or paneled. Some houses used wallpaper with flocking or block prints. With the invention of lath-and-plaster ceilings, cornices and base moldings were introduced.


Plastered walls are usually painted a flat coat of one color: earth tones of yellow, almond, red or brown—or very bright blue, green or yellow. They can also be grained or marbleized.

Fireplace walls

Following the American Settler style, the fireplace wall—with cupboards, closets or stairway doors—continued as the room’s decorative focus.
Early in the period, paneling replaced the vertical boarding of the fireplace wall, typical of the Settler style, and then evolved into dado and wall paneling around the entire room.


Formal rooms of elaborate houses in the Southern colonies contained floor-to-ceiling paneling. Unless quality woods with fine color—such as walnut—were used, the woodwork was usually painted to match plastered walls.

Fireplace treatments

  • Fireplace openings framed by projected moldings, mantels and overmantels
  • Carved with fruit, flowers, and images from Aesop’s Fables or classical motifs
  • Bordering pilasters containing Corinthian and other classical designs
  • Marble surrounds on occasion
  • Paintings or prints over the fireplace or a landscape painted directly onto the central panel as alternatives to overmantels

Floors in American Colonial Homes


Floors were commonly wooden, made of wide, smooth pine boards without stain or varnish. Brick floors in a herringbone pattern were sometimes laid in entryways.
In the late 18th century, some floors were painted to simulate stone. Paving stones were occasionally found in halls, usually laid diagonally in checked patterns.


For the average house: embroidered mats, point-stitched rugs and hangings, and braided and hooked rugs made of scraps from worn-out clothing were produced by housewives.

In posh Georgian-style houses: painted floorcloths with marbleized diamond patterns were used for the central hall, dining room or parlors. Wealthier households also enjoyed fine woven or knotted carpets imported from Europe and the Far East.

Use of Color in American Colonial Homes

The use of colors depended on the status of the household during the American Colonial period.

Modest homes

Modest homes embraced colors originating from indigenous soils and plants discovered in the previous American Settler period to paint walls or furniture. Homemade dyes were concocted for fabrics. Predominant were earth tones of yellow, almond, red and brown, plus brighter blues, greens and yellows.

Wealthy homes

England’s Georgian style influenced well-to-do households and expanded the palette with unusual variations such as pea green, olive, Venetian red, Prussian blue, vermilion, buttermilk and indigo. These colors contrasted with reddish-brown furniture of walnut and mahogany in urban households.

Updated from an earlier version on realtor.com®.

Source By https://www.realtor.com/advice/home-improvement/american-colonial-style/