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Thursday, April 12, 2007

The Colonial Look Returns You to a Simpler Time

by James Allen

The Colonial look is steeped in tradition, but with distinctly American undertones. Here are some tips and guidelines to make this look a reality in your home.

You have a bit of elbow room to play with when orchestrating your color scheme. Using distinctive colors like vermilion, indigo, and olive mimics the colors found in affluent homes of the time. Mellow, earthy hues like brown, yellow and green gives you a color palette used by modest families of the period.

Candles and lanterns were a signature lighting instrument during the Colonial era, and it's easy to get that same look today. Simulated tapers, with a tiny bulb replacing a flame, are a common design in today's lighting market. Find chandeliers and sconces that implement the same wrought iron or brass metal finishes that were found in the fixtures of the time. If you want a more opulent style, concentrate on glass chandeliers embellished with dangling crystals.

A colonial room mixes Queen Anne and Chippendale styles with classic American elements. Characteristics of Queen Anne furniture include the elegantly feminine cabriole leg that curves from chair to floor, and the "S" scrolls that shape the pieces. Besides chairs, select tables and chests that feature cabriole legs for a cohesive look that runs throughout the entire room. Chippendale chairs are another possibility, with straight front legs and bowed or pierced slat backs. To transition from English traditional to American Colonial, simply insert some American design staples like a secretary desk, a handsome and functional fixture that adds charm to living spaces. Chest-on-chests, dining tables with drop leaves, highboys and matching lowboys and Windsor chairs will also do nicely.

Dig out any heirloom samplers from your family attic and break out the silver or pewter service ware for display on your sideboard. Colonial style focuses on the hearth, so if you have one, make it the focus of your design and enhance it with molding and carved mantels. You can draw attention to your fireplace by hanging large paintings or prints over it if you don't have a mantel. Another signature accessory, the grandfather clock, complements dignified furniture like secretary desks, and varieties can be found with lacquers, broken pediments and finials. Lastly, tie in your windows with drapes them with festoon blind and French draw curtains.

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