How to Decorate a Colonial Home

Decorating a colonial home is a timeless and elegant choice that brings a sense of historical significance and charm to any space. With its enduring popularity, colonial home decorating has stood the test of time, captivating homeowners and designers alike with its classic beauty.

In this article, we will explore the key elements of colonial home architecture and delve into various aspects of decorating a colonial home, from selecting the right color palette to incorporating authentic patterns, furnishings, architectural details, and accessories. Whether you own a colonial-style house or simply admire the style, this guide will provide valuable insights and inspiration for creating an inviting and sophisticated colonial-inspired living space.

Colonial homes are characterized by their unique architectural features that harken back to an earlier era. From symmetrical facades adorned with pilasters and pediments to multi-pane windows, these homes exude an air of elegance steeped in history. The enduring popularity of decorating colonial homes can be attributed to the harmonious balance between traditional design elements and modern aesthetics. By embracing this style, homeowners can create spaces that feel both timeless and trendy.

Understanding the key features and design elements of colonial home architecture is essential for successfully decorating a colonial home. From the iconic symmetrical designs to intricate details like cornices and moldings, every element plays a significant role in capturing the essence of this classic style. Throughout this article, we will explore various aspects of colonial home decor, providing practical advice on how to bring out the beauty in your own space while staying true to its historic roots.

Decorating a colonial home is about more than just aesthetics – it is about immersing oneself in history, celebrating craftsmanship, and paying homage to bygone eras. With careful consideration of color palettes, furniture styles, fabrics, accessories, architectural details, lighting options, window treatments, and outdoor spaces – each aspect contributes to creating an authentic and elegant setting that effortlessly combines the old with the new.

Join us on this journey as we uncover the timeless beauty and charm of decorating a colonial home, illustrating how you can create a truly stunning space that reflects your personal style while honoring the rich history of this architectural treasure.

Understanding Colonial Home Architecture

Colonial home architecture is characterized by its timeless and classic design elements that have stood the test of time. When decorating a colonial home, it is important to understand the key features and architectural details that define this style. By incorporating these elements into your decor, you can create a truly authentic colonial home that exudes charm and elegance.

One of the defining features of colonial homes is their sense of symmetry. Colonial architecture often emphasizes balance and proportion, with evenly spaced windows and doors. Facades are usually symmetrical, with a central entryway flanked by evenly spaced windows on either side. This symmetry extends to the interior as well, with symmetrical layouts in terms of room arrangement and furniture placement.

Another characteristic feature of colonial homes is the use of pilasters. These are vertical columns or shallow rectangular projections that are commonly found on the exterior walls of colonial buildings. Pilasters add depth and visual interest to the facade, giving it a more grand and stately appearance.

Pediments are another prominent feature in colonial home architecture. Pediments are triangular shapes found above entrances or windows, often adorned with decorative motifs or carvings. They serve as an architectural embellishment that adds an element of elegance to the overall design.

SymmetryEvenly spaced windows and doors, both inside and outside.Symmetrical facade of a colonial home
PilastersVertical columns or projections on exterior walls.Colonial home with pilasters on the facade
PedimentsTriangular shapes above entrances or windows, often adorned with decorations.Colonial home with pediments above windows

Understanding these key features and design elements of colonial home architecture is essential when decorating your own colonial-style home. By incorporating symmetrical layouts, pilasters, and pediments into your decor, you can capture the timeless beauty and elegance of this architectural style.

Researching and Choosing the Right Color Palette for Your Colonial Home

Different aspects of color play a crucial role in enhancing the charm and authenticity of a colonial home. When researching and choosing the right color palette for your colonial home, it is important to consider historical color schemes commonly used during the colonial period. These colors not only evoke the timelessness of this architectural style but also reflect the historical significance of colonial homes.

One popular color palette for colonial homes includes various shades of neutrals, such as whites, creams, beiges, and grays. These hues create a classic and refined look that complements the clean lines and symmetry of colonial architecture. Additionally, these neutral tones provide a blank canvas for highlighting other design elements within your home decor.

Alternatively, if you are looking to add more depth and richness to your space, consider incorporating warm earth tones like deep reds, rich browns, and golden yellows. These colors were often used during the colonial period to create warmth and coziness within interiors.

When choosing colors for your colonial home, it is essential to pay attention to both interior and exterior spaces. Harmonizing these colors will create a cohesive look throughout your home. Additionally, consider factors such as natural light levels in each room to ensure that your chosen hues are complementary.

To further enhance the aesthetic appeal of your colonial home’s interior, you can incorporate accent colors through upholstery fabrics or accessories like throw pillows or artwork. Colors such as blues or greens can add interest while still maintaining a classic feel.

Ultimately, researching and selecting an appropriate color palette that aligns with the architectural style and period of your colonial home will set the tone for creating an authentic and visually pleasing living environment. It is crucial to strike a balance between historical accuracy and personal preference when choosing colors for your space.

Furnishing a Colonial Home

When it comes to furnishing a colonial home, it is essential to choose pieces that not only complement the architectural style but also evoke the elegance and timelessness of this design aesthetic. From wingback chairs to four-poster beds, there are certain furniture styles that perfectly suit colonial homes. Additionally, incorporating specific furniture styles like Queen Anne, Federal, and Georgian can further enhance the overall colonial ambiance of your home.

One must-have furniture piece for a colonial home is the wingback chair. This classic piece of furniture not only provides comfort but also adds a touch of sophistication to any room. Wingback chairs were popular during the colonial period and continue to be a staple in traditional interiors today.

Another essential item is a four-poster bed, which adds an air of grandeur and elegance to the bedroom. Its tall posts and canopy create a sense of regality that suits the colonial style perfectly.

When it comes to dining room furniture, Chippendale-style dining tables are highly recommended for colonial homes. These tables often feature intricate detailing on the legs and apron, adding visual interest and sophistication to the space. The Chippendale style was prominent during the colonial period and remains a symbol of refined craftsmanship.

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Essential Furniture PiecesFurniture Styles
Wingback ChairsQueen Anne
Four-Poster BedFederal
Chippendale-Style Dining TableGeorgian

Overall, furnishing a colonial home requires careful selection of essential pieces and furniture styles that reflect the grandeur and elegance of this design aesthetic. By incorporating wingback chairs, four-poster beds, and Chippendale-style dining tables, you can create an interior that perfectly complements the architectural style and period of your colonial home.

Incorporating Colonial-Inspired Patterns and Textiles into Your Home Decor

When it comes to decorating a colonial home, one of the key elements to consider is incorporating colonial-inspired patterns and textiles into your overall home decor. These patterns and textiles play an important role in capturing the authentic charm and historical feel of a colonial home. In this section, we will explore some classic colonial patterns and their historical origins, as well as provide suggestions on how to use them in upholstery, drapes, wallpaper, and bedding.

Classic Colonial Patterns

One of the most iconic patterns associated with colonial homes is toile. Toile is a fabric that typically features intricate scenes or motifs printed on a white or off-white background. It originated in 18th century France but quickly gained popularity in colonial America. Traditional toile designs often depict pastoral landscapes or historical events, making them perfect for adding a touch of history to your home decor.

Another popular pattern during the colonial period was chintz. Chintz is characterized by its vibrant floral designs on a lighter background. It has its roots in India and was introduced to Europe in the 17th century. Chintz quickly became a beloved pattern among colonists due to its cheerful and lively nature.

Damask is yet another pattern commonly associated with colonial homes. Damask fabrics feature elaborate designs woven into the fabric itself, often using luxurious silk or velvet materials. Damask patterns are traditionally symmetrical and are known for their elegance and sophistication.

Incorporating Patterns into Your Decor

To incorporate these classic colonial patterns into your home decor, consider using them in upholstery for furniture pieces like sofas or armchairs. Opting for toile-upholstered chairs can instantly elevate any room while bringing an air of history to your space. Similarly, using chintz or damask fabrics for curtains or drapes can add a touch of elegance to your windows.

Wallpaper is another excellent way to introduce these patterns into your home. Consider choosing a toile or chintz wallpaper for an accent wall or even for an entire room. If you prefer a more subtle approach, using colonial-inspired patterns in bedding and pillows can still make a significant impact.

When incorporating these patterns, it is essential to strike a balance between creating an authentic colonial feel and maintaining a cohesive and harmonious overall aesthetic. Mixing and matching different patterns within the same color palette can create interest while ensuring that your decor complements the architectural style of your colonial home.

By incorporating these classic colonial patterns and textiles into your home decor, you can capture the essence of history and create an inviting space with timeless elegance.

Adding Colonial-Inspired Architectural Details and Molding

Types of Colonial-Inspired Architectural Details

To truly embrace the colonial style in your home decor, it’s essential to pay attention to the architectural details and molding. Colonial homes are known for their emphasis on symmetry and classical elements. Adding these architectural details can enhance the authenticity and charm of your colonial home.

One common feature seen in colonial homes is crown molding. Crown molding adds elegance and a finished look to any room. It can be simple or intricate, depending on your preferences and the style of your home. Wainscoting is another popular architectural detail found in colonial homes.

This type of paneling is installed on the lower half of walls, adding depth and visual interest to a space. Chair rail molding is often used along with wainscoting to further define spaces and protect walls from chair backs. Incorporating these types of moldings can instantly transform a room into a colonial-inspired space.

Incorporating Architectural Details

When incorporating architectural details into your colonial home, it’s important to consider the scale and proportions of the space. Choose moldings that are appropriate for the height and size of your rooms. For example, if you have high ceilings, you can opt for larger crown moldings that make a statement. On the other hand, if your ceilings are lower, choose smaller moldings that have a subtle impact.

Additionally, consider matching the style of architectural details to the overall period of your home. If you have a Federal-style colonial home with more delicate features, opt for gentle curves and less ornate moldings that reflect this style. However, if you have a Georgian-style colonial home with more extravagant features, choose more intricate moldings that showcase this grandeur.

Enhancing Authenticity with Molding

In addition to crown molding, wainscoting, and chair rail details, there are other architectural elements that can enhance the authenticity of your colonial home. For instance, adding rosettes and medallions to ceilings or doorways can bring a touch of elegance to the space. Paneled doors with raised or recessed panels are also common in colonial homes and can be used to replace existing doors for a more authentic look.

When incorporating architectural details, it’s important to strive for balance and harmony throughout your home. Consistency in style, scale, and proportions will create a cohesive and authentic colonial atmosphere. By paying attention to these details, you can transform your home into a true colonial gem.

Accentuating Colonial Home Decor with Antique and Vintage Accessories

One of the quintessential elements of colonial home decor is the use of antique and vintage accessories. These timeless pieces not only enhance the colonial style but also add character and authenticity to your home. By carefully curating a collection of antique and vintage items, you can create a truly unique and historically inspired space.

When it comes to choosing antique and vintage accessories for your colonial home, it’s important to consider their relevance to the time period and architectural style. Look for pieces that reflect the craftsmanship and design aesthetics of the colonial era. Some popular options include brass candlesticks, porcelain dinnerware, vintage maps or paintings, and ornate mirrors.

Displaying these accessories strategically can help accentuate the colonial decor in different areas of your home. For example, you can use vintage maps or botanical prints to adorn your walls or create a gallery wall with an assortment of antique frames. Sconces made from cast iron or brass can be installed on either side of a fireplace or hallway to create an ambiance reminiscent of colonial times.

Incorporating antique and vintage accessories into your colonial home doesn’t have to be limited to indoor spaces. You can also extend this theme into outdoor areas such as patios or gardens. Consider incorporating wrought iron furniture with intricate designs, classic trellises adorned with climbing roses, or traditional stone urns filled with blooming flowers.

By embracing the charm and beauty of antique and vintage accessories, you can truly accentuate the colonial style in your home decor. These pieces serve as a visual connection to the past while adding depth and richness to your overall design scheme. Whether it’s an heirloom passed down through generations or a unique find from a flea market, each piece tells its own story and contributes to the timeless appeal of decorating a colonial home.

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Lighting and Window Treatments

In a colonial home, lighting and window treatments play a crucial role in enhancing the overall ambiance and capturing the essence of this timeless architectural style. By choosing the right lighting fixtures and window dressings, you can effortlessly create an atmosphere that showcases the elegance and charm of your colonial home.

When it comes to lighting, brass chandeliers, wall sconces, and candlestick lamps are all popular choices for colonial homes. Brass chandeliers with multiple arms and crystal embellishments are especially fitting for grand entryways or formal dining rooms. For a softer glow, consider adding wall sconces with antique finishes to your living spaces or hallways. And for a touch of traditional charm, opt for candlestick lamps on side tables or mantelpieces.

Window treatments in colonial homes should be chosen with care to complement the architectural style and period of your home. Draperies in rich fabrics like damask or silk are often used in formal areas such as dining rooms or parlors. For a more casual look, consider using light-colored curtains made from linen or cotton in bedrooms or family spaces. To add authenticity to your colonial decor, incorporate window treatments with decorative trims such as fringe or tassels.

It is important to remember that both lighting fixtures and window treatments should adhere to the principles of symmetry commonly found in colonial homes. They should be evenly balanced on either side of windows or doorways to maintain the characteristic sense of proportion that defines this architectural style. By paying attention to these details when selecting lighting fixtures and window treatments, you can truly enhance the ambiance of your colonial home while staying true to its historical roots.

Outdoor Spaces

Creating a beautiful outdoor space is an essential part of decorating a colonial home. The colonial style is known for its connection to nature and the outdoors, and it is important to extend that aesthetic to your garden and patio areas. By incorporating colonial-inspired elements into your outdoor spaces, you can create a cohesive and elegant look that complements the overall style of your home.

When designing a colonial-inspired garden, it is important to focus on formal and symmetrical designs. Consider incorporating features such as formal hedges, boxwood-lined pathways, and classic urns filled with blooming flowers. These elements were commonly used in colonial gardens and will add a touch of authenticity to your outdoor space.

In addition to the landscaping, it is equally important to consider the furniture and accessories for your patio area. Wrought iron furniture is a great choice for creating a colonial-inspired look. Look for pieces with intricate details and scrollwork that mimic the craftsmanship seen in colonial homes. Traditional trellises can also be incorporated into your outdoor seating area to provide shade and add visual interest.

To further enhance the colonial ambiance of your outdoor spaces, consider adding subtle lighting elements. Brass lantern-style wall sconces or candlestick lamps can be installed on exterior walls or near seating areas to create soft illumination in the evenings. This will not only add warmth but also highlight the architectural details of your home.

By paying attention to detail in both your landscaping choices and outdoor furnishings, you can create an inviting colonial-inspired garden and patio area that reflects the timeless beauty of decorating a colonial home. Remember to personalize these spaces by adding your own unique touches while staying true to the overall style of your home.


In conclusion, decorating a colonial home is a timeless and elegant choice that allows homeowners to embrace the historical significance and charm of these unique architectural styles. Throughout this article, we have highlighted the key features and design elements of colonial homes, provided guidance on choosing color palettes, furniture styles, patterns, and textiles that perfectly complement this aesthetic, and explored how to incorporate colonial-inspired architectural details and accessories into your décor.

We have also discussed enhancing the ambiance of a colonial home through appropriate lighting and window treatments and offered ideas for creating a colonial-inspired garden and patio.

By understanding the distinct characteristics of colonial architecture and researching historical color schemes commonly used in these homes, homeowners can create an authentic feel that pays homage to the past while still adding their own personal touch. The use of essential furniture pieces such as wingback chairs, four-poster beds, and Chippendale-style dining tables bring sophistication to any colonial home. Incorporating classic patterns like toile, chintz, and damask in upholstery, drapes, wallpaper, and bedding adds texture and visual interest.

Adding architectural details such as crown molding or wainscoting enhances the authenticity of a colonial home. By curating a collection of antique and vintage accessories that accentuate the colonial style, homeowners can add character and charm to their space. The right choice in lighting options like brass chandeliers or wall sconces can create a warm ambiance that complements the overall aesthetic. Finally, embracing landscaping ideas like formal hedges or boxwood-lined pathways adds beauty to outdoor spaces.

In summary, by following the tips outlined in this article while also infusing your own personal style into your decorating choices, you can embrace the elegance and charm of decorating a colonial home. Whether you live in an original historic property or are looking to recreate these timeless styles in a newer construction home, incorporating aspects of traditional design will ensure lasting beauty for years to come.

Frequently Asked Questions

What is colonial decorating style?

Colonial decorating style refers to a type of interior design that draws inspiration from the early European settlers in America during the 17th and 18th centuries. This style is characterized by its simplicity, elegance, and a harmonious blend of traditional elements with influences from various cultures.

Common features found in colonial decor include neutral color palettes, natural materials like wood and stone, decorative moldings, symmetrical layouts, and an overall sense of symmetry and balance.

How to decorate American colonial style?

To decorate in American colonial style, it is essential to incorporate elements that reflect the historical context of this period. Start by selecting a color palette that consists of warm hues such as brown or deep reds for walls and wooden furniture. Utilize natural materials like hardwood floors or large area rugs made from wool or jute to create a cozy ambiance.

Incorporate antique or replica furniture pieces with classic designs like Windsor chairs or Chippendale tables, which will enhance the authenticity of the colonial aesthetic. Decorative accents like brass candle holders, porcelain china, and landscape paintings can also contribute to creating an old-world atmosphere.

How can I make my colonial house more modern?

Making a colonial house more modern can be achieved by blending contemporary elements with traditional ones while maintaining the overall character of the home. One way to achieve this balance is by introducing lighter colors into the space. Lighter shades on walls can help brighten up rooms while still preserving some traditional aspects of colonial architecture.

Consider adding sleeker furniture pieces with clean lines mixed alongside more ornate or antique furnishings for an eclectic yet modern twist. Updating fixtures like lighting or bathroom hardware to more contemporary designs can also help bring a touch of modernity without compromising the overall vibe of the home. Furthermore, incorporating minimalist artwork or statement pieces with bold colors can provide contrast and create visual interest within a colonial space while adding a contemporary touch.

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