Colonial Style Interior Design - Interiordesignipedia (2023)

What is colonial-style interior design?

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Colonial style interior design is a classic traditional piece of art meant specifically for a country look with painted wood surfaces, paneling, ornate dado, and plasters mainly used in both the interior and exterior.

This style has a history ranging back to the mid-1600s with their design’s main features being the veranda for the front, a large fireplace with a chimney, large framed windows, and sometimes a live or picket fence around the compound yard.

The furniture is designed with different styles majorly with influence from the English design, although the design industry for the furniture has evolved over the years to suit the different desires of the market in different times.

Main features of colonial interior design

Most colonial architecture was inspired by the European settlers like the English, French, Spanish, and Dutch who settled in America. They mainly built 2 or 3 story homes, with wood and brick used to cover most of the interior and exterior respectively.

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It was also popular for the specific characteristic of a spacious home with a backyard, and was commonly referred to as the ‘American dream’.

Most of the designs also used bright colors like white, but others chose to go with softer colors like yellow, green, blue, brown, and pale peach for their elegance, softness, and non-saturated look. They often stood out without overwhelming the room.

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Wallpapers and paintings were a common feature too for the inside, as well as a rich touch of colors, fabrics, and patterns, for an eclectic and colonial look. Most fabrics were made of cotton, wool, and linen.

For a warmer and more calming interior, most of the colonial styles use other design features like beautiful indoor plants to complete the interior colors and add elegance to the room,

They also used softwood for furniture and other accessories, and a plantation of day beds in the backyard.

The living room was made more comfortable with large sofas and oversized armchairs with lots of large pillows with different patterns on them.

Bright color patterns with flowers were used to decorate most rooms alongside patterned lampshades and ornaments, as they always brought out the elegance and beauty of the interior.

The dark shutters used helped to compliment the bright walls.

Subsets of colonial interior design

American colonial interior design

This style of interior design originated in the 18th century and borrowed heavily from the European styles of the day. The change from the borrowed styles however was the grandeur, added to the farm-houses in America.

Immigrants brought with them their home styles, with were heavily marked and influenced by their simplistic lines of the day.

(Video) HOW TO DECORATE British Colonial Style | Our Top 10 Insider Design Tips

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There are different themes that one could choose to have a colonial design feel in their homes. Among the most prevalent are a traditional and rustic theme and a more opulent theme such as those that would have been found in the colonial times.

It’s easy to achieve the look. Handworks such as embroidery, rag-rugs, slipcovers, and other essential traditional quilts were common because it was expected that women would spend their time creating the beautiful accessories.

Ivory and grays were common colors embroidered on woodworks and walls, for the American colonial look.

Features of the American Colonial Look

  • Simplicity in the interior – the interior was kept versatile and functional with clean lines on the view. Handworks such as rugs gave the interior elegance and warmth that always made it welcoming and inviting.
  • Handicrafts and quilting – ladies were mainly tasked to do the craftworks. There were design books for specific tasks or a design book would be made according to the specific customization features someone needed.

    When ready, the quilts and handicrafts would be used as decoration for the interior, on the beds, and walls, in modern society, you could customize this on pillows and cushions.

  • Colors – natural and somber shades of paint were common for the American colonial design interior. Soft and muted colors like white, brown, gray, yellow, and red were common and fitted just perfectly.
  • Floors, walls, and windows – the floors were mainly made of hardwood, mainly cherry, mahogany, or walnut. Walls were paneled or whitewashed with paint and had stenciled decorations of flowers at the borders or murals.

    The designs were majorly two stories with five windows, and the front door directly beneath the middle window on the upper story.

  • Furnishings – the rustic styling heavily used insisted on large traditional furniture. Cast iron lamps with chandeliers and candleholders were the best for lighting the interior and successfully achieved a satisfactory look. Cut-glass doorknobs, gilt mirrors, and brass knockers also characterized this style.

Primitive colonial design

The primitive colonial style used primitive folk art pieces with muted colors and rough surfaces to give a simple look to the interior décor.

They either used antique pieces of furniture or contemporary art, which was also designed in a way that replicated the old vintage and antique pieces but used modern materials. These included the use of soft colors and sanding paints to create the perfect country style.

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This style also incorporated themes that were common like pottery, primitive wooden designs, saltbox houses, rag dolls, barn-stars, and even primitive dolls to decorate the interior.

This style was popular amongst farming families, as the pieces and accessories were mainly made by farmers.

Features of a primitive colonial look

  • Porch and foyer – porches were characterized by large crocks that gave an inviting look to the home and spacious places to sit. The front door also had grapevine wreaths which were subject to appropriate decoration depending on the season.

    The foyer had beautiful antique furniture like a Windsor-style chair that allowed someone to sit as they changed their footwear. The porch also had boards with hand-crafted pegs, best for hanging jackets and other outdoor wear.

  • Living room – wooden floors were common with the decoration of braided rugs with patterns such as hearts or pineapples, which added a taste of beauty and comfort into the interior.

    The country look was further implemented by the wooden spools beautifully arranged on a quilt scrap, with a large wooden crate standing in for a modern table. The most eye-catching feature was the large barn star above the fireplace.

  • Bedroom – the primitive bedroom is marked by layers of the quilt on pillows and dolls. An antique blanket chest at the bed’s foot also contributes to the primitive style and provided storage. On the vintage dressers were a display of vintage teddy bears to add a whimsical and spectacular look to the room

Georgian colonial design

The Georgian is a classic traditional style worth emulating. The interior is marked from the simple wood designs inspired by lavish Queen Anne’s antiques.

Features of Georgian design

  • Antique-filled rooms – high-quality antique furnishings were common. Sheraton, Queen Anne, Hepplewhite, and Chippendale were the most common and popular styles. These styles encouraged highly polished wood and rooms with no clutter.

    The less rich styles were cottage-style and more rustic but either way, they were kept and always remained elegant and cozy. Cherry, walnut, and maple woods were used for the high-end furniture, while pine and birch woods worked well for the simpler furniture. These furnishings were always well crafted with carvings being common.

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  • Colors – for the Georgian look, soft and muted colors gave the perfect finishing look and gave an airy feeling. Among the most common colors were muted greens, yellows, soft blue, pale peach, taupes, and browns.

    To achieve this look in your home, you first have to choose a color of your liking but it should be soft, so as to bring the needed elegance to your space.

  • Architecture – painted wood molding and plaster were used for both the interiors and exteriors. The walls, floors, and ceilings were covered with some form of trim, majorly having being influenced by the classical Greek and the French aristocratic styles.

    Paneling, picture rails, ornate dado rails, and crown molding were common for the walls, finished by elaborate archways for doors. The trims were finished with off-white color paints and later came the adoption of wallpapers, all of which had a perfect finishing for the Georgian look.

British colonial design

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The British settlers all over the world brought with them their traditional styles and designs that were adapted locally.

These diverse styles introduced a classic style that is still copied today, as it evokes an era that was full of pure gentleness and elegance, and is more appealing, relaxing, and comfortable.

Features of British colonial look

  • Leather trunks – the British style is much influenced by their leather trunks and bags, all of which were beautifully aged. The trunks are good for storage and side tables. They had brass buckles and clasps which are still used today to evoke their gorgeous look.
  • Textiles – the original designs were from England but later were adjusted to fit the changing environment, without losing the original look. Animal prints were also good to introduce this accent, especially when used as the floor mats.
  • Rattan and Teak Furniture – the British style combined both the soft tone of light rattan and a neutral warm brown of teak for a beautiful and unique look.
  • Indoor plants – indoor palms were popular for their dark green color as their presence simply added life into the interiors. This color also complimented leather, brown, timber, bamboo, and rattan pieces in the interior.
  • Canopy beds – these were four-poster beds, which were viewed as the hallmark for this style. It also adapted over the years to fit every era.
  • Spacious and comfortable living rooms – for the British interior, tall windows provide sufficient light, and the curtains, chairs, and couches determine and finish the interior look. The oversized sofas, couches, and large rattan and timber chairs and side tables gave the look of a classic and timeless warmth.
  • The entryway – they had simple design staircases at the entryway for easy convenience because of the common multilevel houses.

Dutch Colonial Design

The Dutch had the most unique architectural designs for their homes, and most are copied to date. Their houses were made of brick and stone, broad and double pitched roof slopes, and protruding chimneys.

The windows were majorly incorporated into the roofline but the designs have since changed to adapt to times. They are quite innovative and highly customizable.

Features of Dutch colonial look

  • Gambrel roofs – also known as the Dutch or barn roofs had two slopes, one at a slight angle and the next one at a steeper angle. This gave room to the usage of the upper level without necessarily building two stories. Alongside this, they had dormers galore which helped them do the lighting to evade cost for a second story.
  • Double-hung windows – they commonly consisted of multi-paned windows, with mainly six or eight windows. They help to implement the overall cozy and comfortable look.
  • Exposed fireplace – chimneys that were exposed were like signatures to the Dutch architecture, who were believed to be master masons. There were also commonly two fireplaces for a home as they needed the fire for both cooking and warmth, therefore having two.
  • Covered porches – the Dutch usually had a wide covered porch to have a shaded space to enjoy the outdoors.
  • Dutch door – they are also called barn, stable or double-hung doors. The most outstanding feature is the horizontal cut through the middle, which allowed the top part to be open for air circulation while the bottom part remained closed, to prevent animals from coming in.

Modern colonial design

The design for modern colonial spaces brings out pure elegance in their spaces.

Even though they have a twist and are customized and modernized, they do not lose the taste of the vintage pieces that add the difference in age to your space.

Features of modern colonial look

  • Floral patterns – the patterns are commonly found on pillowcase covers and drawings. They add beauty and elegance to the room.
  • Wallpapers – modern colonial design interior embraces a wide range of wallpaper patterns, as long as they compliment the other colors of both the furnishings and other accessories.
  • Textiles – color patterned rags and other hand-made textiles are common for modern colonial interiors. They add an essence of art, elegance, and style into their space.
  • Colors – soft and muted colors are best suited for both the interior and exterior shades. The colors maintain a muted tone, which makes it easy to have more combinations with other pieces of furniture and accessories.

Resources

FAQs

What is Colonial interior style? ›

Colonial interiors are characterized by grand entrance halls, polished wood floors, simplified paint and wallpaper palettes, and light approach to millwork and wainscoting.

What are the interior elements of colonial architecture? ›

Key Elements
  • Square, symmetrical shape. Formality governs the Georgian Colonial. ...
  • Five windows across front. ...
  • Dental moldings along the eaves. ...
  • Pedimented dormers sometimes jutted from the roof.
  • Flattened columns on each side of door. ...
  • Shutters.

What is modern British colonial style? ›

British Colonial style is relaxed, genteel and travelled. It pairs dark-stained rattan, timber and bamboo furniture with pure white linens and an abundance of indoor greenery to cool and refresh the space.

What is the meaning of colonial style buildings? ›

Colonial architecture is an architectural style from a mother country that has been incorporated into the buildings of settlements or colonies in distant locations.

What are the Colonial colors? ›

Classic colonial paint colors include modest earth tone colors such as white, creamy yellow, almond, ochre, reddish brown, dark brown, beige, taupe and muted green. These colors were common because the pigments for the dyes came from natural resources such as plants, soil and minerals.

What are the features of Colonial? ›

The typical aspects of colonialism include: racial and cultural inequality between ruling and subject people, political and legal domination by the imperial power, and exploitation of the subject people. Many commentators see colonialism as a key cause of uneven development.

What is the most common colonial-style? ›

The most common type of colonial architecture in the USA is British colonial architecture which makes since given the US was a British Colony for approximately 200 years. There are several sub-styles that quality as British colonial architecture.

What is the popular design feature of colonial homes? ›

American colonial homes are simple, symmetrical, and rectangular. They are always two or more stories tall, with the staircase located in the center of the home. For that reason, the staircase is a prominent design feature, and is usually made of wood.

What is colonial style furniture? ›

Definition of colonial furniture

: furniture made in the American colonies before the end of the Revolution and largely influenced by contemporary European styles (as the Queen Anne and Georgian) but having some indigenous features (as greater variety in woods and more extensive use of turnings)

How do I get a colonial look? ›

Here are nine ways to add a little bit of British Colonial style to your home.
...
  1. Campaign furniture. ...
  2. Lightweight and eclectic fabrics. ...
  3. Tropical inspired furnishings. ...
  4. Natural texture. ...
  5. Light and airy colors. ...
  6. Traditional shutters. ...
  7. Ceiling fans. ...
  8. Eclectic accessories.
27 Jul 2013

How do British colonial styles decorate? ›

HOW TO DECORATE British Colonial Style | Our Top 10 Insider Design Tips

What are the different types of Colonial? ›

There are three types of colonies: charter colonies, proprietary colonies, and royal colonies.

What is an example of colonial architecture? ›

The most prominent and historic American colonial architecture often includes Neo-classic elements, such as Greek-inspired columns and Romanesque domes as well. One of the finest examples of this is Thomas Jefferson's estate, Monticello, which he designed himself.

What is another name for the colonial-style of architecture? ›

Homes were often built from stone and features included thick walls, exposed timbers and hand-hewn beams. French colonial-style, also known as Creole architecture, was popular among homes located in the Southern part of the U.S., particularly Louisiana and the Mississippi Valley.

What color is colonial blue? ›

Colonial Blue Color Palette

A stunning shade that combines Prussian blue with a gray base, Colonial blue is a classic that will never go out of style. Use it to bring out the historic character of an older house, or to add timeless style to a newer home.

What color is Colonial Revival? ›

Colonial Revival Gray SW 2832 - Historic Color Paint Color - Sherwin-Williams.

What color is colonial cream? ›

This color is part of the Benjamin Moore Off White Color Collection. With more than 150 variations of white with subtle nuances the collection is inherently sophisticated and endlessly versatile.

What is a colonial example? ›

The mass migration of Dutch, German, and French settlers—the Afrikaners—to South Africa and the British colonialism of America are classic examples of settler colonialism. In 1652, the Dutch East India Company established an outpost in South Africa near the Cape of Good Hope.

What is colonial in simple words? ›

1. the control or governing influence of a nation over a dependent country, territory, or people. 2. the system or policy by which a nation maintains or advocates such control or influence. 3.

What does colonial mean? ›

1a see usage paragraph below : domination of a people or area by a foreign state or nation : the practice of extending and maintaining a nation's political and economic control over another people or area.

What year is colonial-style? ›

Spanning a period roughly from 1600 to 1820, Colonial architecture is exactly what it sounds like: architectural techniques and styles used in American colonies, adapted from various motherlands, be them English, Dutch, French, or Spanish.

Are colonial-style homes popular? ›

'Colonial style house' is an umbrella term that describes an iconic part of the US architectural landscape. This signature house style is one of the most popular property styles in the US due to its innate charm and period character.

How do you decorate a traditional colonial home? ›

Soft and muted neutral tones are the best colors for Colonial-style homes. Pale peaches, pinks, soft blues, greens, yellows, and browns can create the sense of understated elegance associated with stately Colonial homes. Drawing from the history of Colonial home design can aid in choosing colors today.

Why do people like colonial houses? ›

Appealing Architectural Features

Look no further if you want a house that has automatic curb appeal. Colonial-style homes are detailed, aesthetic and well-proportioned. Many have tall white columns, balconies, large windows, elaborate front entrances and lengthy front porches.

Why is it called a colonial house? ›

According to Traditional Home, the term “colonial” referred to the houses built by the 17th-century European colonists. Like we stated earlier, the build was based on what they knew from their previous homes in Europe. However, their new homes evolved and adapted in design based on the regions where they settled.

What rooms were in a colonial house? ›

A colonial-style house usually has two floors. On the first floor are the living and dining rooms, the kitchen and maybe some other rooms such as a bath/powder room, a family room, library, etc. On the second floor are the bedrooms and bathrooms.

Is colonial style still popular? ›

American colonial style is still an extremely popular design of home. New England and the southern parts of America in particular offer many colonial influenced houses. It's an easy style that is constructed with common materials, which makes it a popular choice.

What is the difference between colonial and traditional home? ›

The difference between Colonial and traditional home styles is quite simple; Colonial refers to a specific type of style, while traditional is a broader term encompassing many styles, including Colonial.

What is a Colonial kitchen? ›

A colonial style kitchen is foremost defined by a large brick fireplace, historically used for cooking. Colonial fireplaces generally opened into the kitchen with a floor-level stone hearth and were topped by a large mantle.

What year is Colonial furniture? ›

Colonial (1700 to 1780)

What makes a house French colonial? ›

Homes built in the style of French colonial architecture are recognizable for their wrap-around porches, French doors, and ornate style.

What did early colonial houses look like? ›

Georgian Colonial homes were built throughout the colonies. They were rectangle shaped homes that were symmetrical. They typically had windows across the front that were aligned both vertically and horizontally. They either had one large chimney in the center of the house or two chimneys, one on each end.

Is my house a Colonial? ›

Colonial-style houses usually have two or three stories, fireplaces, and brick or wood facades. The classic Colonial-style house floor plan has the kitchen and family room on the first floor and the bedrooms on the second floor. Colonial-style homes are easy to add onto.

How do you make a British colonial style? ›

The core element of British colonial decor is the contrast of light and dark tones. Consider using a soft white paint for walls and outfitting windows with light, sheer fabrics for that feeling of a cool oasis in a tropical setting.

What is British colonial structure? ›

The British colonial styles tended to be very formal and rational, based on strictly symmetrical designs that featured pitched roofs, shutters, and the occasional column or pilaster for a decorative touch. They were usually made of wood or brick.

What is British design style? ›

British style is loved because its austere elegance, classic luxury, high quality materials, the presence of many decorative elements and the absence of too catcy accents. In its best form, it is an example of elegance and good taste.

What is the difference between colonial and traditional home? ›

The difference between Colonial and traditional home styles is quite simple; Colonial refers to a specific type of style, while traditional is a broader term encompassing many styles, including Colonial.

What style furniture is colonial? ›

Colonial furniture styles include Jacobean, Early American, William and Mary, Queen Anne and Chippendale. The furniture ranges from casual, country-style furnishings to very formal, traditional pieces.

What is the most common colonial-style house? ›

The most common type of colonial architecture in the USA is British colonial architecture which makes since given the US was a British Colony for approximately 200 years.

Is colonial style still popular? ›

American colonial style is still an extremely popular design of home. New England and the southern parts of America in particular offer many colonial influenced houses. It's an easy style that is constructed with common materials, which makes it a popular choice.

Why do people like colonial houses? ›

Appealing Architectural Features

Look no further if you want a house that has automatic curb appeal. Colonial-style homes are detailed, aesthetic and well-proportioned. Many have tall white columns, balconies, large windows, elaborate front entrances and lengthy front porches.

Why is it called a colonial house? ›

According to Traditional Home, the term “colonial” referred to the houses built by the 17th-century European colonists. Like we stated earlier, the build was based on what they knew from their previous homes in Europe. However, their new homes evolved and adapted in design based on the regions where they settled.

What year is colonial style? ›

Spanning a period roughly from 1600 to 1820, Colonial architecture is exactly what it sounds like: architectural techniques and styles used in American colonies, adapted from various motherlands, be them English, Dutch, French, or Spanish.

What are the different types of Colonial? ›

There are three types of colonies: charter colonies, proprietary colonies, and royal colonies.

Where did the colonial style come from? ›

Colonial style dates back to the 1600s. The design elements are derived from the homes the colonists had back in England. Homes following this design were popular throughout the British colonies in America.

How many floors does a Colonial house have? ›

A colonial-style house usually has two floors. On the first floor are the living and dining rooms, the kitchen and maybe some other rooms such as a bath/powder room, a family room, library, etc. On the second floor are the bedrooms and bathrooms.

How do you decorate a traditional colonial home? ›

Soft and muted neutral tones are the best colors for Colonial-style homes. Pale peaches, pinks, soft blues, greens, yellows, and browns can create the sense of understated elegance associated with stately Colonial homes. Drawing from the history of Colonial home design can aid in choosing colors today.

What is the average size of a colonial house? ›

The square footage of our collection of Colonial house plans vary from slightly over 1,100 square feet to in excess of 11,000 with the vast majority falling within the 2,500 – 3,500 range making the selection of Colonial house plans easily accessible and straightforward when searching our website.

What is colonial and advantages and disadvantages? ›

But the colonial master's aim was to exploit the colony economy and move them to their country making the colony depend on them. The disadvantages of colonialism is far more than its advantages, the main advantage is the civilization while the disadvantage is the economic dependent.

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