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Interior Decorating Ideas

Interior decorating ideas from the design professionals. Whether you need inspiration or specific answers, want modern or period style, you'll find the answers here. Go to: American Home Decorating Historic Styles and Periods, Frank Lloyd Wright, Leather Guide

American Home Decorating Historic Styles and Periods

The following home decorating style guide in hand table format has popular furniture pieces, decorating motifs and popular materials and colors. Primary dates of influence given are meant as a guide to American historic styles and periods and are not precise. Colonial style, the best of early American decorating, includes Georgian, Dutch Colonial, Adams and Colonial Revival. Learn about capturing the essence of this rich tradition by renovating an existing Colonial or by building new. Mid-Century Modern with its pared down, clean lines is perfect for modern small spaces.

Period Dates Characteristics Furniture Materials/Color
Colonial (influenced by Jacobean and William & Mary) 1608-1720 little embellishment simple, utilitarian design local materials and woods
Georgian (Queen Anne, Chippendale, Hepplewhite, Sheraton) 1720-1790 fan, wreathes, shells, claw-and-ball feet, cabriole legs, padded and upholstered wing chair, sideboard with serpentine front, chest of drawers mahogany, curly-grained mahogany, walnut, walnut burl, birch, gilt bronze
Federal
(Adam, Hepplewhite, Sheraton)

Duncan Phyfe

1790-1820

1768-1854

Inspired by Roman ruins. Greco-Roman motifs, sheaves of wheat, arrows, drapery, garlands, torches, saber foot, lyres, hot air balloons, swags, urns, reeding, damask, cameos,

cornucopia

rocking chair, milk-safe (food storage), blanket chest, gate-leg table, settee, marble busts mahogany, curly-grained mahogany, maple, pine, oak, walnut, fruit wood, black or dark green painted chair frames, copper mounts, stencils, glossy varnish, gilt and bronze finishes, ceiling medallions
Greek Revival 1820-1860 massive scale, Greek design elements    
Victorian 1840-1860 displays with many decorative items, even "cluttered," fruits, flowers fireplaces rich brocades and velvets; colors are mauves, burgundies, rich blues and greens; lace, fringe, stained glass, parquet and marble floors, wicker, dried flowers, wallpaper
Arts and Crafts late 19th & early 20th centuries focus on craftsmanship vs. industrial production    
Art Deco 1918-1939 simple forms in luxury finishes and exquisite materials, geometric or rounded silhouettes, starbursts club chairs, bar cabinets leather, velvet, lacquered cabinets, mirrored finishes, aluminum, plastic, steel, zebrawood, burled walnut, chrome, glass, shiny fabrics, fur
Hollywood Regency 1930's glitz and glam sunburst mirrors, tufting, chandeliers, lampshades with fringe, thick sculpted carpets lacquer and shell finishes, glossy surfaces, trellis and animal prints, velvet, faux fur, patent leather
Contemporary (Hollywood Glam/New Preppy) Current a little retro fusing Palm Beach prep with Hollywood Glam: Lillly Pulitzer color with Marilyn Monroe glam furniture and accents chevron patterns, colorful, luxe velvets, glazed linens, lacquered furniture, tufted upholstery, Lucite accents, gold and silver leaf finishes

Leather Guide

Before making your purchase, understand what you are buying and how you will use the piece. The softest leather feels best but may be impractical since it offers less protection against spills and dirt. Heavily used pieces may show dark stains from skin and hair oil after long use that are nearly impossible to remove. Darker leathers without protective coating can fade in sunlight. Always consult a leather expert for cleaning or repairs. Technically, leather is an animal skin that has been cured and tanned:

  • Full-grain leather has pore marks and natural grains and will age gracefully
  • Top-grain has surface scars and defects usually sanded down and painted over so it appears more uniform but it doesn't age well
  • Split grain: a second layer sliced from beneath the top grain layer, usually embossed or treated to duplicate top grain
  • Suede is the textured underside and needs more protection vs. napa which is the smooth outside
  • Leather characteristics: lamb is soft but fragile, pig suede has large pores, sheep often has wool left on for style, goat suede is lightweight, cow is tough
  • Aniline dyed: immersion of leather in dye bath so scratches won't show a different color underneath
  • Faux (or imitation): vinyl
  • Bi-cast: split leather with the lower layer sprayed with a polyurethane top coat
  • Bonded or Reconstituted: material made by gluing leather scraps onto polyurethane and cotton layers. Leather makes up less than 20% of the total. Durahide is a brand name for this product.
  • Shagreen (pronounced chagrin): type of rawhide, rough untanned skin commonly made from sharks and rays often available in beautiful shades of color

Frank Lloyd Wright

Frank Lloyd Wright is one of the most influential architects. Wright was born in Wisconsin in 1867. His mother, even before his birth, was determined that he should be an architect. He pawned some of his father's books in 1887 and left for Chicago where he went to work for Joseph Lyman Silsbee as a tracer for eight dollars a week. A year later, he left Silsbee to work for Dankmar Adller and Louis Sullivan. He acknowledged Sullivan as his Lieber Meister (beloved master) and worked for him until 1893.

Wright built a home near Spring Green, Wisconsin in 1911. He called it Taliesin, Welsh for "shining brow." In many ways, Taliesin is the quintessential Prairie Style home, merging as it does with the landscape on which it is sited. Through personal tragedies, he rebuilt and continued to develop Taliesin throughout the remainder of his life. Here he formed a fellowship of apprentices who paid tuition and completed projects on the Taliesin buildings. He built Taliesin West in Arizona in 1938. His school wintered there.

Over the course of his career, Wright designed the Imperial Hotel in Tokyo, the Johnson Wax Building, the Guggenheim Museum, and numerous houses, including Fallingwater near Bear Run, Pennsylvania. His contribution to affordable housing was the Usonian house; he believed that everyone should have a custom designed home. Wright often designed every detail of a house, including furniture, lighting, and window detail. Some of the most exquisite art glass is found in Prairie Style homes. Wright died in 1959 before the Guggenheim was completed. He is buried at Taliesin.

Frank Lloyd Wright furniture was an integral part of many of his projects. His object was not simply to design a building, but to create an entire environment. Furniture, stained glass and fabrics were controlled not by the client, but were defined by his vision and his desire to influence how people would live or work in his buildings. Now a singular example of Frank Lloyd Wright furniture is available in miniature for the furniture lover and design professional.

Frank Lloyd Wright Interiors

"Wright claimed to build "organic" architecture that seemed to grow naturally out of the surrounding landscape. He believed the internal space, furnishings and decorative details of a house to be intrinsic to its architecture. Many of his projects incorporated site specific furniture and fittings. These unified projects were intended to possess a natural "organic" beauty that would promote the life of the human spirit. Instead of walls, furnishings were often used as spatial dividers, thereby creating more open interiors and a sense of flowing space."

"Wright’s preoccupation with geometric forms and intersecting planes in his architecture, led him to develop a similar style for furniture. For example, a series of metal desks and chairs designed for the Larkin Building in Buffalo, New York, were designed to be functionally and visually unified with their surroundings. They were also among the first metal items for indoor use that did not mimic wood. The chairs were made of painted steel with leather upholstered seats and rigidly geometric backs with square perforations. In addition to furniture, Wright designed stained glass windows, ceramics and glass, metalwork and textiles. Wright’s work became distanced from its Arts & Crafts origins as he began to explore the structural and decorative potential of industrial concrete blocks which he used in the design of the Imperial Hotel in Tokyo and four houses in Los Angeles."

Frank Lloyd Wright (1867-1959) was born in Wisconsin in 1867. His mother, even before his birth, was determined that he should be an architect. He pawned some of his father's books in 1887 and left for Chicago where he went to work for Joseph Lyman Silsbee as a tracer for eight dollars a week. A year later, he left Silsbee to work for Dankmar Adller and Louis Sullivan. He acknowledged Sullivan as his Lieber Meister (beloved master) and worked for him until 1893. Wright built a home near Spring Green, Wisconsin in 1911. He called it Taliesin, Welsh for "shining brow." He built Taliesin West in Arizona in 1938. His school wintered there.

Over the course of his career, Wright designed the Imperial Hotel in Tokyo, the Johnson Wax Building, the Guggenheim Museum, and numerous houses, including Fallingwater near Bear Run, Pennsylvania, and the Usonian house. Wright often designed every detail of a house, including furniture, lighting, and window detail. Some of the most exquisite art glass is found in Prairie Style homes.

Wright died in 1959 before the Guggenheim was completed. He is buried at Taliesin. He is the first true modern architect and one of the greatest of the twentieth century.

Frank Lloyd Wright Tree of Life Window Stained Glass
Frank Lloyd Wright Floor Globe Frank Lloyd Wright Tree of Life Window Stained Glass 
Designed by Frank Lloyd Wright in the early 1900s, this floor globe is a concept that was intended for one of his Prairie Homes but never came to fruition until now. Made by Replogle Globes, crafters of fine terrestrial globes for 79 years, the floor globe is based on a sketch found in the Frank Lloyd Wright Foundation archives. The globe stand exhibits the form-follows-function principle, strong horizontal lines, and simplified geometric forms that were hallmarks of the Prairie School movement. The globe is painstakingly handcrafted by artisans and the solid maple frame is carved, sanded, and stained by hand, and finished with a deep walnut stain This Frank Lloyd Wright Tree of Life art glass pattern is found in several variations in Frank Lloyd Wright's Darwin D. Martin House. The four-pot variation is found on the central landing of the Martin House stairway. This exquisite adaptation of the window is framed with a copper patina frame for an antique feel and is perfect for desktop display. On this glass panel, enamel colors are individually applied to a single sheet of glass which is then kiln fired to permanently fuse the enamels to the glass

Modern Country Style Furniture

Modern Country style furniture has a worn finish that is immediately relaxing and easy to live with. Many designers show it with crisp white paint and luxury bed linens for just the right contrast. Modern Country or Farmhouse Chic offers all the charm and hominess of country style with updated with contemporary colors and prints. It's welcoming but with a sparer, less cluttered look than before. Worn finishes blend with contemporary for a fresh and interesting take on vintage. Nothing too precious so it's perfect for homes with children and pets, or your cabin retreat.

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Last modified: January 28, 2017