Classic Americana Decorating Style

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If you’re searching for uniquely American home decor, look no farther than classic Americana design. Americana style homes are informal, easy to care for and feel very welcoming. The term Americana actually encompasses a number of different decorating traditions, but you can count on finding one or more of these themes in any one of them:

  • History
  • Geography
  • Folk art
  • Natural materials.

With its casual flexibility and so many options to choose from, you’ll be able to create a classic Americana design just right for you.

Patriotic Americana Style

Patriotic Americana is probably the first thing that comes to mind when you hear about Americana decorating. This style showcases love of country by incorporating the colors and motifs of our flag along with other classic American symbols into home decorating.

You’ll want to include at least some of these basic elements in a Patriotic Americana home:

  • American flag palette: Use any combination of red white and blue for your walls, furnishings, window treatments and accessories. If the colors of the flag are too intense for you, it’s perfectly fine to use muted red and blue hues, and substitute soft cream for white.
  • Actual American flags: Display one over your mantle or headboard, or hang around your home as wall art.
  • Flag patterns and motifs: Include stars and stripes on lampshades, bedding, curtains, dishes or towels. For a subtler look, choose a few accessories with only stars or stripes.
  • Classic American characters: Add a painting or sculpture of Uncle Sam, one of our presidents, the founding fathers or the Statue of Liberty, or perhaps find a whimsical lamp that depicts one of these iconic characters.
  • Vintage American motifs: You might want to hang a replica of the Declaration of Independence, some World War I or World War II recruiting posters or a print depicting a scene from the revolutionary war.

Here are a few decorating ideas for a Patriotic Americana style home:

  • Wallpaper or stencil border with stars and/or stripes
  • A few antique wrought iron lamps or tables
  • Cotton drapes or curtains in muted or classic American flag colors/motifs
  • Homemade patchwork quilts
  • Textured throw rugs in one or more flag colors
  • A framed map of the United States
  • Americana themed lamps, switch plates, throw pillows and other accessories
  • A display collection of tin soldiers in American uniforms
  • White or light wooden furniture
  • Strings of star-shaped lights.

Farmhouse Americana Style

Farmhouse Americana is actually the most popular of all the Americana decorating approaches and is inspired by historic American country farm life. Incorporating rural themes and American farm animals this approach may include elements from colonial farmhouses through those of the 1940s or 50s. These decorating touches will help you create a Farmhouse Americana style home:

  • Flexible country color palette: Work with saturated primary colors or muted shades such as peach.
  • Natural materials: Choose natural flooring materials such as hardwood, stone or clay tiles and natural fabrics including cotton, flannel, wool and chintz.
  • Overstuffed furniture: Soft comfy overstuffed chairs and sofas add to the cozy country feel of a home.
  • Vintage American country items: Try colorful fabrics with 1940s fruit motifs, vintage pottery and china and 1950s style red kitchen items.
  • Quaint fabric touches: Cotton eyelets or red and white checked patterns bring easy country simplicity to curtains, linens or upholstery.
  • American country motifs: Roosters and chickens are classic Farmhouse Americana favorites.

Primitive Americana Style

Another major Americana decorating branch is Primitive Americana style, which offers its own unique brand of folksy American charm. To achieve this look in your home, be sure to include many of these basic elements:

  • Primitive artwork: This can include folk art, vintage advertising or tramp art.
  • Simple, natural fabrics: Well-worn and faded prints, checks and coarse fabrics such as burlap and homespun cotton fit right in with Primitive Americana.
  • Rustic furniture: Find weathered antique treasures or distress your own tables, chairs and dressers. Twig furniture and simple Shaker style furniture are also perfect for a Primitive Americana style home.
  • Woven baskets: Use these to hold fresh fruit, flowers, pinecones or other natural materials.
  • Primary colors: Faded or muddied versions of these basic shades are most often used throughout the home.
  • Elements of nature: Use a Mason jar or old watering can as a vase for fresh or dried flowers, and create centerpieces or shelf decorations from pumpkins, gourds and sunflowers.
  • Handcrafted and craft related items: You might want to include an old spinning wheel and balls of homespun yarn, patchwork quilts, pottery and wooden bowls.
  • Worn metal items: Vintage tools and lanterns add light and texture.

More Americana Styles

Believe it or not, Americana includes even more decorating traditions. Here’s a sampling of a few other popular classic regional Americana styles:

  • New England Nautical Americana: This northeastern seafaring approach uses nautical themes such as ships in bottles, fishnets and fishing weights, lighthouses, sea bird carvings, anchors, seashells, lanterns and nautical maps to celebrate New England’s fishing culture.
  • Western Americana: This relaxed look embraces the culture of the American “Wild West” and works with themes including cattle, horses and western cowboy and rancher items.
  • Southwestern Americana: Celebrating the land and culture of areas such as New Mexico and Arizona, and influenced by Native American culture, this unique Americana style incorporates rich earthy desert colors, geometric patterns, pottery, hand woven rugs and cool, terra cotta flooring.

Finding Your Own Americana

The United States encompasses a huge range of cultures, lifestyles, historic events and climates. The definition of Americana style naturally has lots of room for interpretation. Feel free to combine elements of Americana approaches that resonate with you. Perhaps you’d enjoy a Patriotic-Farmhouse Americana décor, or maybe a Primitive-Southwestern Americana approach is more your style. After all, independence and individuality are integral parts of the American identity you’re expressing with Americana design.

Last Updated: August 16, 2012
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About Roberta Pescow Roberta Pescow holds a bachelor's degree in communications from City University of New York, Queens College and is a freelance writer and editor in the NJ area. The author of "A Life In The Service" and "A Monster's Tears," she enjoys writing informative articles, personal essays, fiction and music.  Roberta is a proud mother of two. Her other interests include fitness, photography, sculpture and meditation. She is a voracious reader and holds a 2nd degree black belt in Tae Kwan Do. Roberta enjoys decorating her hectic, but happy home and garden in original and affordable ways.  

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