When I started my blog almost three years ago, I intended to write a great deal about design history. One reason was because I've long had an interest in it, but I also have always found inspiration in these rooms of the past. If you study the details, sometimes you might just get a few ideas for your own home. I was recently studying the American period rooms in the American Wing at the Met (all online if you'd like to take a look), and I was struck by how modern many of the colors and furnishings are. Actually, perhaps I shouldn't say it's modern because the rooms' details are historically accurate. Rather, they still seem to appeal to these modern eyes.
The Hewlett Room, c. 1740-60, Woodbury, Long Island. What immediately strikes me is the intense, gorgeous blue walls. It looks a lot like the blues being used by designers today. The blue paint color plus the orangey, coral shade of the china cabinet reminds me of that Kendall Wilkinson showhouse room from a few years back (see below). The other detail that I might keep in mind for future use? The nailshead trim on the baby's crib. Wouldn't that scroll design look great on a screen?
Kendall Wilkinson's showhouse room is somewhat similar in color scheme to that of the Hewlett Room.
The Alexandria Ballroom, 1793, Alexandria, Virginia. Again, it's all about that beautiful blue. Still so chic today, and doesn't it look like a color that Steven Gambrel would use?
A bright blue Greenwich living room by Steven Gambrel.
The Haverhill Room, c. 1805, Haverhill, Massachusetts. On first glance, it would be easy to dismiss this room as too old, too early American, and too fancy. But look closely. The trim on the bed curtains would look fantastic on curtains or pillows.
Samuel & Sons "Macadamia" trim looks similar
Samuel Hart Room, c. 1680, Ipswich, Massachusetts. To some, the focal point of this room might be the oak timbers. To me, it's the bed. (Interesting to see the somewhat diminutive scale of this bed; people were smaller back then.) I would use more feminine fabric and trim, but the lines of the bed curtains are still appropriate for today.
David Hicks designed a similar bed centuries later, though obviously the fabrics and the proportions were far different.
(Images of period rooms courtesy of the Met's website; Wilkinson room from her website; Gambrel room via his website; Hicks room from David Hicks: Designer)