Colonial Revival and Mad Men

mtnrdredux_gwNovember 8, 2011

Marcolo - I am assuming you saw this, but just in case

Here is a link that might be useful: set designer

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Dear lord. That's exactly what I'm trying to do. When those hard-driving executives leave their masculine Modern office suites, they go home to the feminine Colonial Revival homes of suburbia.

Call it an antidote to the Midcentury Minimalism that has become so prevalent in Los Angeles home design today.

"Do I think homes will be filled with frills and knotty-pine paneling?" asks New York City designer Jeffrey Harris, who's hooked on the show. "No, but I do think that we will be seeing reinterpreted elements of that look."

How, precisely, does one reinterpret that?

    Bookmark   November 9, 2011 at 12:03AM
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Circus Peanut

The article continues:
"Designer Harris, a fan of wood paneling and Formica in unexpected places, says he is updating Colonial Revival furniture for contemporary interiors by giving them a fresh coat of paint or an outrageous upholstery fabric. The designer also has been working on a collection called Colonial Mod, which reinterprets Americana through the use of modern materials. Next year it will include deconstructed Colonial chairs and tables encased in acrylic boxes."

Can anyone find that 'Colonial Mod' exhibition? Google can't seem to. Off-hand, it doesn't sound much more like deconstruction than what some shopworn HGTV design show host does. (Bring on another gallon of white paint! He lost me at "outrageous.")

My perusal of Harris' website came up only with this, the Fusion Chair:

    Bookmark   November 9, 2011 at 1:07AM
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Circus Peanut

Table. Sorry, the Fusion Table.

    Bookmark   November 9, 2011 at 1:09AM
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How about a knotty pine feature wall in herrinngbone.

    Bookmark   November 9, 2011 at 9:13AM
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Chairs like this have been creeping onto 1st Dibs, and showing up in spreads in places like Elle Decor.

This room, from Larry Laszlo in MetHome

    Bookmark   November 9, 2011 at 9:50AM
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I've always called that the "Lucy and Ricky Move to Connecticut" look. Mid-century Colonial. There's a lot to like about it, but I'll skip the spinning wheel.

Here's a great little chair I picked up a few years ago. I don't have a real good place for it (it is banished to the music room right now) but I adore it and it will get its proper due some day.

    Bookmark   November 9, 2011 at 10:40AM
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I used this table in a project about 5 years ago, and it's moved to another house with her. The project is MCM eclectic, but I liked the shape and scale of the table regardless.

Here is a link that might be useful: Heywood Wakefield Cobbler table.

    Bookmark   November 9, 2011 at 11:21AM
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I love "Lucy and Ricky Move to Connecticut"! Describes that style exactly.

But for the record, that ain't what's properly called Colonial Revival, which took root much earlier, after the 1876 Centennial, gaining momentum in the 20s and 30s, with some vestiges lasting into the 60s. It's typically more formal than the examples shown above, a graceful updating/reimagining of Georgian/Federal styles, with various other influences thrown in for good measure.

There have been several books and exhibitions on the subject in the past few years. If you do a Google Images search on it, you'll get a good quick sense of it.

    Bookmark   November 9, 2011 at 10:05PM
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What I'd like to know is when we can be done with the ironic furniture. Irony isn't particularly comfy. Though I did read somewhere the irony is the opposite of wrinkly. And wrinkly is even more uncomfortable in furniture. ;)

    Bookmark   November 9, 2011 at 10:14PM
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But all of that informal maple and chintz braided rug stuff was also colonial revival. Cushman Colonials, Heywood Wakefield and Ethan Allen all did it. The first colonial revival was Centennial furniture, sure, --victorianized Federal, if you want, but the revivals occurred again and again, including the Sesquicentennial period, the Postwar move back to the country, and the 1960s and Bicentennial--some of the things considered colonial revival are not in the least Georgian-Federal although that is the most formal version of it. Much of it was influenced by the time period: there is a lot of deco-colonial revival mix, for example--look at the work of Dorothy Draper.

    Bookmark   November 9, 2011 at 11:39PM
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Hi Palimpsest--
You of course are quite right. I was worried that someone new to the CR term would give the wrong interpretation to the first couple of pix...the 1stDibs chair almost has that Scandanavian look that was also around in the 60s, and some of the furniture in the second one has other influences as well.

And I agree that there were different influences and interpretations over time -- I'd add that they also varied with location. And earlier manifestations were more formal, if only because lifestyles were more formal.

    Bookmark   November 10, 2011 at 11:56AM
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Some of the first revival furniture (and buildings) are pretty spectacular because the Victorians overdid it a bit, and they also played with scale. I live in a building with a 1900 Revival (which is kinda late, but it's Phila, and colonial never went out of style) and the Federal-ness of parts of it are more "complete" than some real Federal era buildings, because 100 years later they had the full catalog of all the things that were done in the Federal period.

    Bookmark   November 10, 2011 at 12:17PM
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Fori is not pleased

Those maple colonial pieces were dated when I was a kid, so they take some acclimation to appreciate now. But a well proportioned nicely made chunk of furniture usually has something redeeming about it. I prefer the Duncan Phyfe mahogany knockoffs of the 40s and early 50s but that turned maple stuff will outlast it by several generations.

I have my grandmother's 1960ish colonialish hutch. Luckily she picked out a nice one--many of those things are awful.

    Bookmark   November 10, 2011 at 12:34PM
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Oh, the 1950s "Early American" look gives me the willies. Ethan Allen, even Sears and JC Penny were all doing it.

It was all over the place in the 1950s as trendy and the 1960s ad outdated! And it was so FAKELY not at all what was going on in the 1600s and 1700s.

    Bookmark   November 10, 2011 at 9:00PM
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"How about a knotty pine feature wall in herrinngbone."

Mtnrdredux, have you seen the special issue of dwell "Best Homes in America"? You'll find your knotty pine in a pattern very reminiscent of herringbone on page 37. There is a quite a bit of knotty wood this particular dwell issue.

    Bookmark   November 10, 2011 at 9:23PM
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Really? I don't read dwell because i havent done a MCM house. Cool though!

    Bookmark   November 10, 2011 at 9:40PM
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Here is a link to it. Not really herringbone pattern at all, but perhaps thinking about it.

Here is a link that might be useful: dwell house with knotty pine

    Bookmark   November 10, 2011 at 9:56PM
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