Let’s take a look at the East Coast first:
Heading south from old New England to the Mid-Atlantic Coast, down to Carolina Lowcountry past the Florida bi-coast boasts. To the distant Southernmost Point of our Continental U.S., where the East Coast meets its ending at the island of Key West!
Okay, “America the Beautiful” it’s not, but I couldn’t resist trying my hand at rhyming after noticing the significant physiographic differences that make up the East Coast regions of the United States. Visions of diverse landscapes (channel “spacious skies, amber waves of grain, purple mountains majesty, above the fruited plains,”) inspired me. Alright, poetry aside, let’s begin to dig a little deeper into the design and decor elements of first, the New England coast.
Design and Decor Elements of New England
New England is home to some of the oldest historic neighborhoods, settled by Early American Colonists hundreds of years ago; therefore, the decorating style of this region is greatly influenced by its rich past and tradition. The variation of geographical features from one area to the next as well as the potential exposure to extreme weather conditions, also influences the design and structure of the houses. New England is comprised of both coastal and mountain regions which has allowed for the development of seaside, rural and urban areas.
New England Coastal Style Today
Architecture: New construction often reflects many features of historic homes in the region, including cedar-clad exteriors with gambrel-style roofs; design is traditional, but with clean-lines and only minor ornate trim above windows or doors; one major improvement with new home building is the use of durable construction materials that can withstand sea salt, strong winds and harsh winter weather.
Design Elements: Natural building materials are primarily harvested from the local region and utilized for the exterior and interior of homes; patina finishes are commonly applied to furnishings or accessories to convey a desired rustic, natural look; teakwood outdoor furniture is especially popular as it naturally weathers to a silvery-gray patina, requiring little maintenance.
Puritan Past Influences: With simplicity and thriftiness in mind, interior rooms are reasonably sized and designed for practical use; materials and finishes are chosen to endure; low ceilings and small windows help retain heat in living spaces; economical, white bead board is commonly used on wall surfaces and as trim.
Signature Colors: The classic crisp duo of Navy Blue and White, representative of the region’s nautical past and present, is quite prevalent as a color palette — and often in the form of stripes; a softer palette of blues, greens, tans and creams is more commonly seen in the rural New England home settings with a woodsy or mountainous backdrop.
Interesting Footnotes: New Englanders value their place in American history by collecting antique furnishings as well as handmade baskets, old books, family photographs and memorabilia which are prominently displayed on bookshelves and tabletops in homes. Elements of nature, real or depicted, such as seashells, sea glass, local wildflowers and branches often adorn interiors.
The pineapple is the only symbolic object, frequently displayed in different forms at many New England homes, yet not indigent to America. It is a sign of warmth and friendliness. History tells us that Colonists began to import the fruit from the Caribbean in the early 17th century. Because the trade routes were considered dangerous, the acquisition of imported pineapples was quite an achievement, and reserved only for the wealthy who could afford to buy them. Families could raise their social status by impressing guests with a serving of the sweet delicacy. Today, the pineapple is widely recognized as a symbol of hospitality in the hotels, restaurants and homes of New England as well as in other parts of the country.
Next time, we will continue heading south along the Eastern Coastline, investigating the eclectic style of the Mid-Atlantic Region.
Article by Sandi Wallace