When you think of Americana design, you might just think of Fourth of July-inspired stars and stripes. But there are actually many ways for this look to come to life—and some don’t even include red, white, and blue! But, no matter what way you approach it, there’s always a sense of timelessness and comfort to this style.
Made up of many classic design elements, Americana design celebrates the bright spots of our country’s cultural heritage, along with some of its history, folklore, and geography. Like our diverse country, Americana design embodies the many different backgrounds, experiences, and preferences of the people who use it. While one Americana room might lean very traditional and coastal, another is eclectic or industrial! What it always comes back to are the timeless designs and vintage influences that give this style a sense of nostalgia and causal approachability.
The History of Americana Design
Throughout our country’s history, the idea of Americana design has morphed and changed. In 1876, when America celebrated its centennial, people looked toward the early days of the country for design inspiration. Colonial styles, including woven baskets, hooked rugs, and Federal-style furniture, became popular again. In the 1920s and 1930s, Americana styles included bucolic prints and patterns and linoleum tiles stamped with Colonial-inspired brick patterns. By the 1970s and 1980s, Americana design was defined by the collecting of old signs and historic artifacts of the decades past. Replica designs for Route 66 signs and old gas station pumps began to pop up to play into this nostalgia.
In today’s Americana design, you can see mixed influences from all of these eras—including the historic and iconic Arts and Crafts design movement. This design style, which took off after the Industrial Revolution, was born out of a rejection of the fussy, overwrought style of the Victorian era. So, this style instead embraces simplicity and the natural beauty and traditional, artisanal craftsmanship of furniture and architecture. The simplicity of Arts and Crafts design comes through in Americana design, which celebrates livable, approachable spaces with rustic woodwork and traditional interior design ideas and elements.
Want to learn more about decorating with Americana design and see this look come to life? Tour our three takes on Americana living room design ideas and decide which one is right for you!
Classic Americana Style
As you can tell by its name, this is your everyday Americana decorating style, brought to life through a red, white, and blue color palette and the use of flags and stripes as decor. This is likely the type of room that comes to mind when you think of an Americana theme in your home. It has that classic, traditional-but-timeless vibe to it, with nods to the simplicity of days gone by. And, while it feels particularly fresh and relevant in the summer months, it’s a style that can be used and celebrated year-round.
A neutral color palette makes this living room a bright, cozy, and inviting space, while varying shades of red and blue are used as accents to make the design pop. With a focus on comfort and livability, this is definitely a family-friendly approach to Americana decorating. (Even with a white sofa! Many parents swear by white slipcovers, which you can just bleach in the wash and keep it sparkling clean!)
You’ll notice rustic design influence throughout Classic Americana homes, with raw and natural wood tones and textures, along with various natural fibers, like the linen sofa slipcover and the jute rug. A room like this also demands some nature-inspired touches, like using greenery as decor, along with simple, everyday items like apples on the coffee table and wood in the fireplace.
Along with rustic elements, Classic Americana design also has noticeable coastal interior design influences—of the Nantucket and Cape Cod variety, specifically. You see that in the use of furniture with caning, the natural materials throughout, and the white and light blue color palette, especially in the striped pillows. The room above even has some subtle nautical touches, like the art prints on the built-in shelves.
Classic Colonial Americana: AKA Grand Millennial
The most unexpected Americana decorating style of the bunch, Grand Millennial is a very particular brand of Americana style. With some serious Colonial American vibes, it definitely leans formal and classical in its design influences. You’ll see that come through in dark wood furniture, woven textures, and ornate decor—like the scalloped mirror in the living room design above, or the brass accents throughout.
But, where this style steps out of Colonial Americana and into Grand Millennial is with the colors and patterns. Florals are a big part of the Grand Millennial look, along with other vintage-inspired patterns, like chinoiserie, toile, or the wallpaper used in this room.
Grand Millennial Americana has a collected but polished look, and celebrates a thrifted or vintage vibe. Trinkets like a scottie dog figurine, small vintage paintings, and other collected objects give this style curated eclecticism. Stylize these decorative objects on a bookcase or console to really show off your collections!
Ultimately, Grand Millennial Americana decorating is all about the mix of old with new. Along with decorative objects, think about the furniture as well. So, a chesterfield sofa with modern blue velvet upholstery, or a vintage-inspired coffee table with modern design elements.
And speaking of furniture, in a Grand Millennial living room, opt for sophisticated seating. Go for a comfortable but conversational set-up, where you can enjoy reading or afternoon tea just as much as conversation with friends! As for a color palette, pastels rule in Grand Millennial design. But make sure to incorporate pops of bright colors for a new millennial vibe!
As the name Industrial Americana implies, this style has some major industrial interior design influences. It’s ideal if you can use the architecture of your space as a foundation for this style—whether that’s high ceilings, brick walls, or exposed ductwork. Anything that gives off an industrial and rugged feel.
Then, use natural materials used in a bold way to help your Industrial Americana designs come to life. In the living room above, we did this through an overstuffed leather chesterfield sofa and club chair, along with a mixed material coffee table and a metal bookcase. An edison bulb and piping floor lamp, along with other rustic metals throughout the space, add to the industrial vibe.
Overall, Industrial Americana decorating is very utilitarian. But it has a more sophisticated spin with the leather furniture, color palette, and decorative objects, which give it a bit of a cigar lounge vibe. But what places this style in the Americana camp rather than being strictly industrial is both the focus on comfort and the color palette.
While the room above has a darker color palette, which mostly comes from the natural materials throughout, classic American hues are used in a subtle and traditional way. This faded vintage-inspired rug infuses red, white, and blue into the space in an unexpected way, and you’ll also notice those colors in traditional patterns in the throw pillows.
The decor also has that folksy, collected Americana vibe in a way that is simple but rugged. In the living room above, we achieved this through pieces like a wood-carved ram head, iron dice, a vintage car, globe, maps, vintage prints, a vintage-style clock—all of which subtly speak to American ingenuity and exploration.
Love Americana design? Bring it to life in your own home!