The Styles of American Homes (Through the Lens of The Beach Boys)

Remember that old Beach Boys song called California Girls?  It began like this: "Well, east coast girls are hip, I really dig the styles they wear.  And the southern girls with the way they talk, they knock me out when I'm down there.  The midwest farmers' daughters really make you feel alright. And the northern girls with the way they kiss, they keep their boyfriends warm at night.  But I wish they all could be California girls!"  I think California girls liked that song more than the rest of us and it's always a bit dangerous to generalize but I think its interesting to look at how geography influences things like interior design style.

East Coast Homes Are Hip

New York is the center of east coast style and Brooklyn has become the epicenter of New York hip. This style was epitomized in the set of the recent movie "The Intern"  With a mix of industrial and modern elements wrapped in a graphic color palette of grays, blacks, creams and white, the style is strong veering towards the masculine but with some ironic touches for urban sophistication. 

Steel windows in a repurposed old factory create a strong architectural envelop for the modern office furniture.  The ironic touch is the striped rug which is an east coast preppy classic- ironic in this setting. 


The moody dark walls along with the iconic mid century Noguchi paper lantern spell sophistication and the red chaise ushers the cool into the bedroom of the successful internet fashion superstar. 

Southern Homes with the Way They Speak

Southern homes speak of tradition, hospitality, comfort and charm.  They welcome you in and are not interested in trends or being cool.  Pretty colors, burnished antiques, fresh flowers and soft Persian carpets are usually found in the southern home.  Collected or inherited objects, family photos and books fill shelves and cover table tops reflecting the inhabitants life history. To see some examples of quintessential southern style, let's take a peak at a home in Charleston South Carolina. 

This lovely room by Amelia Handgun beautifully illustrates the southern elements:

Aa does this beautiful room by Merrill Benfield:

Midwest Homes Make You Feel Alright

I always kind of felt bad for the midwest girls because making you feel alright didn't sound very exciting to me when I was a teenager.  But now that I am older and wiser, I now know that making someone feel alright is a great thing!  Homes in the mid west might not bowl you over with sophistication or charm your socks off, but they will make you feel welcome and really good to be there.

With unpretentious, straightforward style, classic color combinations and an appreciation of wood and hand crafted elements, like the vases and textiles, this is a good example of the style:



And this room, designed by its owners, The Bovees, as seen on, exemplifies the midwestern penchant for DIY and repurposing.  It's unpretentious style makes you feel right at home:


Northern Homes with The Way They Live

Northern homes are designed to envelop you in warmth and coziness. Fireplaces in every room, warm woods, and soft chairs and sofas upholstered in velvets, chenilles and windows draped with supple wools make you want to linger by the fire.

Here is a home in Vermont that epitomizes the Northern aesthetic:

This library exudes northern warmth.  What a cozy place to spend the long cold winter evenings!

West Coast Homes Have the Sunshine 

California is blessed with more sunshine than the rest, so west coast homes are all about the light and indoor outdoor living.  Unbound by tradition, these interiors feel free and airy and natural elements like driftwood, plants, trees and stone often find their way inside here:

Outdoor living rooms originated here and why not when you hardly ever have to worry about rain or bugs!

Now that we've discussed the merits of the different styles, why not take the best of each and incorporate them into your home?  I would take the light airy west coast atmosphere, install some lovely old antiques from the southern home, add a gorgeous fireplace in each room from the northern home, throw in some beautiful handmade textiles and built in bookshelves from the midwest house and add a dash of ironic sophistication from the east coast house and I think you would have the best of all worlds! 

Enjoy the weekend!