The American colonial house traces its roots to the Georgian and Federal architecture of the East Coast, from Connecticut’s wood-frame farmhouses to Virginia’s brick dwellings. Repopularized in the early 20th-century Colonial revival, this iconic American architecture features pleasing symmetry, tailored neoclassical details, and invitingly human proportions. Everything about it is familiar — and that is part of its charm. Rectangular facades clad in old brick or white clapboard appear sturdy and stable. Regularly spaced six-over-six pane windows, front doors with handsome trim, and porticos or front porches with Doric columns lend gracious, uncomplicated beauty.
Often, wings and dependencies constructed with differing heights or materials suggest that multiple generations of families have lived in these homes. Interiors are inviting and understated, with the most elaborate gestures reserved for the wooden mantelpieces found in many rooms. The more mantelpieces the better in the American colonial house, which is designed for hearth-oriented families. Well-proportioned rooms with traditional cornices, moldings, or paneled wainscoting lend themselves to both cozy and formal decor. Chintz and slipcovers come to mind, with a colonial palette of off-greens, tans, and antique white. Bay windows offer intimate seating areas in master bedrooms, living rooms, and breakfast rooms while adding grace notes to the facade.
With traditional entertaining rooms across the front, the floor plan allows for larger, more casual rear-facing rooms that open to porches and overlook terraces, gardens, or Georgian-style pool houses. This is the American idea of the perfect house.