Colonial Revival

Originating in the second half of the 19th century in the United States, Colonial Revival consciously strives to emulate the architecture, interiors, furniture, and decorative arts of English and Dutch settlements in North America. The style adapts elements from America’s colonial past to contemporary lifestyles.

1. English Colonial: eastern seaboard, English settlers, who are largely farmers and laborers, construct small and plain houses that reveal little awareness of the high style Renaissance of Europe.
2. Dutch Colonial: Dutch merchants and traders, who settle in present-day New York and New Jersey, influence the rise of the gambrel roof.
3. American Georgian: reveal increasing formality and sophistication and a closer emulation of English Georgian prototypes. High style buildings, inside and out, are symmetrical and ordered with classical proportions, forms, and details.
4. Federal: style maintains the classical forms and details of the Georgian period with more slender proportions, rectangular shaped buildings, and multiple stories.
5. Colonial Revival and the Historic Preservation Movement: preservation of the past begins to merit serious consideration by individuals and private groups (where the money is).

Things you need to remember:
1. Types: Houses are the most common expression of Colonial Revival. Others include exposition buildings, civic buildings, banks, schools, and even gas stations.
2. Site Orientation: Buildings do not replicate the surroundings of the originals. Houses may sit along quiet, tree-lined streets and ever form complete subdivisions.
3. Floor Plans: Plans for public buildings do not replicate similar originals because the originals are more domestic in scale. Instead, public buildings develop from function and contemporary requirements.
4. Materials: Brick, stone, and wood are typical, but new materials such as concrete block and stucco may be feautured. Most common color scheme is a white body with dark green shutters.
5. Facades: both asymmetrical and symmetrical, and combine details from several styles and incorporate one, one and a half, two, or three stories.
6. Windows: Double-hung windows emulate precursors, except in the variety of pane patterns and sizes.
7. Doors: Doorways are a defining feature of the style and most often resemble Georgian or Federal prototypes.
8. Roofs: Common roofs are gable, hipped, or gambrel, and shingles cover them.



Colonial Revival furniture varies from reproductive to adaptations to free interpretations of 17th century Queen Anne, Chippendale, Federal, and American Empire styles. Copying historical pieces is popular and highly revered.
1. Types: Typical types of Colonial Revival furniture include chairs, sofas, tables, cabinets, and beds, most of which emulate many of the earlier precursor examples.
2. Distinctive Features: Colonial Revival furniture is distinguished by its resemblance to earlier styles. However, scale, decoration, woods, and use may vary.
3. Relationships: Antiques are often freely integrated with Colonial Revival and other furniture within room settings. No more lining the walls. Furniture is ARRANGED THROUGHOUT A SPACE TO CREATE COMFORT AND CONVENIENCE.
4. Materials: mahogany, walnut, oak, cherry, and maple; dark stain to resemble aging.
5. Seating: Chairs, settees, and sofas copy, adapt, or freely interpret Queen Anne, Chippendale, Sheraton, Hepplewhite, American Empire, and Regency styles.
6. Tables and Storage: lamp and table ends and coffee tables
7. Beds: Most Colonial-style beds have posts and a broken pediment headboard.


Motifs: Motifs derive from precedents, but the most historical images may be simplified with less detail. Examples inlude columns, pilasters, pediments, engaged columns, lintels, stringcourses, quoins, urns, acanthus leaves, shells, rosettes, palmettes, and eagles.

Decorative Arts: There are more decorative accessories in Colonial Revival interiors than was common in earlier periods. Rooms often display new items not previously known such as throw pillows and modern art. Antiques and/or reproductions of Colonial metalwork, ceramics, prints, mirrors, and clocks usually mix with new, contemporary examples. Formerly utilitarian objects, such as bed warmers, become decorative objects and are proudly displayed.

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