“The difference between landscape and landscape is small, but there is a great difference in the beholders.” Ralph Waldo Emerson (1803-1882), American essayist, “Nature,” Essays Second Series (1844)
This past week I had the pleasure of going back to one of my old hometowns, Washington, D.C. I even had time to go back to my old neighborhood on Capitol Hill and walk past my former home. It brought back a lot of memories, of course, but also throughout my visit I was constantly reminded about the “style” of Washington, D.C.
The Washington area is totally traditional in design — I mean, would you expect anything but that? Walking past the 100-year-old townhomes on the Hill and in Georgetown, you could just visualize the Queen Anne legs on all of the tables and chairs inside, highly ornate pediments on top of china cabinets, pleated draperies, upholstered cornice boards, deep crown moldings, dark hardwood floors and very traditional accessories.
Having relived my design past while there, I also was reminded that interior design is rooted in its environment. There are surely homes in northern Virginia and Washington, D.C., that have more contemporary interiors, but they are certainly in the minority.
It’s no different here in the Las Vegas area; we certainly have our own style. Most homes here are what I would call transitional in design — a little contemporary, pulling away from traditional. That design ilk seems to match our climate and the desert. It’s also not often that you find fine antique furniture here. Transplants who bring their prized antiques here with them often realize the furniture just doesn’t “go” and will divest themselves of it pretty quickly. Or, you might find one antique piece mixed in with other more contemporary ones for a great look.
Beach communities have their own style, too. From Hawaii to Key West, Southern California to the Outer Banks, lighter upholstery fabrics and window treatments and furniture that takes up less visual space all contribute to a sunny, island feel.
It’s actually very interesting that places call out for their own design, just as we individuals do. That’s not to say that we sometimes look at a particular design scheme and not see how it would match a particular area or person. But I guess that’s one of the things that make us all particularly unique.
The fact is that most of us know exactly the kind of furniture and style we want to live with, regardless of where we may live. The beauty of it all is that we can choose. If you want wicker furniture in downtown Anchorage, and can find a store that sells it, go for it. If your townhouse on Capitol Hill has a front door plaque that reads “built in 1750” and you want contemporary Scandinavian design, enjoy the juxtaposition.
Stay true to your preferences and live happily with your picks.
Carolyn Muse Grant is the founding president of the Architectural & Decorative Arts Society, as well as an interior design consultant/stylist specializing in home staging. Her Inside Spaces column appears weekly in the Home section of the Review-Journal. Send questions to email@example.com.