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  • Writer's pictureCourtney Petrin

New England still inspires us..

Twice a year, we visit our hometown in Massachusetts

This past Christmas we spent ten days there and despite the fact that I was very cold…I always feel inspired, centered, and grounded after visiting our first home.

I’m a real Floridian now, but I always find my roots in New England and how it influences how I design and who I am.

The shingled homes, the stately colonial estates, the charming cottages, and the primitive history always make me feel like I’ve come back home.

It’s that mix of charm, history, and relaxed elegance by the water that brings me back to earth. There is a sense of nostalgia for the homes in New England. They seem to linger in an older era while pairing all the modern luxuries of today.

Like these older homes, I’ve evolved as a person. As a woman, a mother of a now four-year-old and a more experienced designer. Through my clients ' work and exposure to Florida homes, I’ve learned to love plaster, Spanish influence, and other design elements. That, paired with my roots, has given me a fresh perspective I’ve only recently discovered I could marry. It’s a push and pull of my roots and exposure to new ideas that I’ve struggled to rectify internally. I’ve only recently realized that they could all live together.

I’m rounding up the hallmarks of New England design and the stunning characteristics that make the homes in this region some of the most beautiful and storied.

Rustic hallmarks

Image Credit : Ginger Barber Interior Design

Bring in the raw, rugged coastline or the natural elements of farmland. A close connection to nature is a hallmark of these homes. Primitive design and nods to foraging respect New England’s roots.

To add this overall look add the following:

  • Beams

  • Stone walls, fireplaces, and natural stone floors

  • Fireplaces

  • Wood flooring

  • Shiplap

Shaker elements.

Bring in function, simplicity, natural elements, and a minimalist approach.

  • Handmade baskets

  • spun fibers-natural textures

  • Jute

  • Handmade pottery

  • Pegboards for hanging hats, coats, and baskets

  • Rustic bench for function and multi-purpose use

Cape Code Cottage feels.

Image Credit : Salt Design Co

Bring the cozy in this classic beach-style home. It’s all about woodwork details, shutters, and weathered shingles. You don’t need to own a cottage on Cape Cod to make your home feel like an airy coastal retreat.

Some woodwork additions to consider;

  • Tongue and groove paneling on walls or even behind built-ins.

  • Wainscoting

  • Tongue and groove and Beadboard ceilings

Lots of white is used in cape cod homes to bring in the light and allow the space to feel bigger.

Traditional splendor.

Comfortable, inviting elegance is what New Englanders are best at. We value class and taste but want our homes to be very welcoming. Nothing is too over the top. Everything has a home and is tidy but lived in.

Built-ins offer storage and family heirlooms and create a focal point. A fireplace is usually center stage.

  • Woodwork like board and batten. Elegant style woodwork adds a sense of grandeur.

  • Clean lines are very prominent, along with

  • classic patterns like stripes.

  • Arches in hallways give a feeling of European decadence.

Neoclassical elegance from our early settlers from Europe.

Image Credit : Mary Hannah Interiors

You don’t have to go heavy-headed with luxury here. It’s all about doing it in small doses or in good taste. Think muted or modest luxury.

  • Elegant materials you can add in small doses;

  • Bronze or gold mirrors, hardware, accents

  • Marble counters

  • Pair it all back with Creamy light colors

The Victorian era reigned supreme and was a maximalist way to demonstrate wealth.

Image Credit : Colonial Reproductions

Let’s take a few key elements you don’t have to run away with. There is no need to darken all your walls and place porcelain dolls on your shelves.

Wallpaper is a great way to add Victorian-era appropriate feels. William Morris patterns are stunning options for powder bathrooms or dining rooms.

Painted paneling and walls that encompass the entire room add drama to a space.

Brass and china-Dish ware and kitchen tools.

Upholstered chairs and pillows bring in pattern and color in small doses.

Lighting-dramatic and layered. Chandeliers and sconces. Emphasis on ceilings, art, and built-ins.

Paint colors in New England

They tend to stay with earthy tones when by the coast or farm. Richer colors show the beauty of the fall season, while whites and grays resemble the winter months.

Below you will find some of my New England Inspired Paint Picks based on my designs!

Overall takeaway

New England design is a combination of :

European influence paired with the coastline and farm land. It’s honors history, nature, the seasons and the sea while telling the story of our ancestors. It’s classic in nature and relies on effortless elegance. Sometimes rustic and rugged and sometimes refined.
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