Updating Colonial Style

Make Colonial style current again with these fresh ideas for an Early American update.

What Is Colonial Style?

Colonial, that most traditional of American styles, is again in vogue. Admired for its simple lines and rich, subdued colors, it emphasizes woods and other natural materials. Whether formal or rustic, Colonial-style interiors have one unifying thread: the look of handcrafting in every element.

For a cozy homespun touch, fill a tall glass vase with balls of colored yarn. Pair them with wooden spools -- some placed in a vase, others fashioned into candlesticks.

Innovative Artwork

Carved ready-made ceiling rosettes (available at home improvement stores) make an impressive eye-level wall display. Painted in graduated shades of yellow, the discs add style to a sitting room. Made of urethane, they are lightweight and easy to hang.

Colonial Color

Go from blah to bold with a can of paint. Reproduction Colonial furniture takes on a spirit of independence when coated with a perky color. Here, a classic Windsor chair and a Chippendale-style secretary appear fresh in green and gold. Both were found in secondhand shops for less than $300 total.

Pewter Power

The gentle glow of pewter, a classic Colonial metal, is a mellow alternative to silver or chrome. Group an assortment of pewter pieces to create a polished focal point. This desktop arrangement would also be at home in a bathroom, sunroom, or kitchen office area.

Homemade Lamp Style

A classic drum-shape lampshade takes on New Colonial style with a honeycomb design.

How to Do It
-- Measure the top and bottom diameters of the shade, allowing for slight differences, to be sure to space the pattern evenly.
-- Use a ruler and pencil to sketch the design lightly on the shade.
-- With an upholstery needle, secure heavyweight yarn along the pattern lines with French knots.

Colonial Canopy

Historically, canopies were used to keep pesky bugs and chilly air from disturbing slumber. Now, simple fabric panels hung from the wall serve a style purpose and can be replaced seasonally.

Framed Display

For a fresh approach to traditional American samplers, place remnants of vintage crewelwork, crocheting, or embroidery in a modern frame. A simple frame contrasts handsomely with homespun handwork. Prop the pieces against a wall for a casual look.

Draw Back

Add graceful beauty to an inexpensive modern chair by stenciling on a Chippendale motif. The elegant lines of the design -- serpentine cresting rail and carved splat -- lend depth to an otherwise minimalist piece.

Get a Handle on Pillows

Give panache to a plain pillow by stenciling on an 18th-century drawer pull. Here, the stylized escutcheon, or back plate, is painted gold, allowing the lighter handle to pop.

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