What is Colonial Revival?

Colonial Revival is an architectural and interior design style that seeks to revive elements of American colonial architecture.


Colonial Revival is a design style that emerged in the United States in the late 19th century and became most popular between the 1920s and 1940s. This style is characterized by its nostalgic appeal to the architectural elements and interior design features of early American colonial architecture. It came about during a time when the United States was looking to establish a clearer national identity and turned to its architectural past to bring forth a style that reflected American heritage and values.

The key characteristics of Colonial Revival design include symmetry, formal entrances, brick or wood clapboard exteriors, multi-pane double-hung windows, and the use of traditional materials. Interiors in this style typically feature a central hallway with rooms branching off on either side, fireplaces, wood paneling, and a muted, natural color palette. Often, furniture and decor are inspired by pieces from the 18th century, blending functionality with an elegant, classic aesthetic.

Colonial Revival is not just an architectural phenomenon but extends indoors with furnishings and decorations that honor the simplicity and craftsmanship of the colonial era. Brass hardware, candle sconces, and hardwood floors are common elements that complement the overall traditional aesthetic. This style can provide a sense of warmth and timelessness, making it an enduring choice for interior design.


Colonial Revival buildings are often seen in residential architecture, but the style is also applied in the design of public buildings such as schools, libraries, and courthouses. In interior design, Colonial Revival is chosen for its classic and sophisticated flair, making it a popular choice for those looking to create elegant, harmonious homes that reflect historical influences.


  • When did Colonial Revival first become popular?

    Colonial Revival first became popular in the late 19th century, with its peak popularity between the 1920s and 1940s.

  • What are some key features of Colonial Revival design?

    Key features include symmetry, formal entrances, multi-pane double-hung windows, the use of traditional materials like brick or wood clapboard, and a natural color palette. Interiors often have a central hallway, fireplaces, wood paneling, and 18th-century inspired furniture.

  • Why did Colonial Revival emerge as a style?

    Colonial Revival emerged as a response to the United States' desire to establish a clearer national identity by reviving and celebrating architectural elements from its colonial past.

  • Is Colonial Revival style still popular today?

    Yes, Colonial Revival remains a popular choice for those looking to imbue their homes or buildings with a sense of elegance, tradition, and historical charm.

Practical Application

To incorporate Colonial Revival elements into your home, focus on symmetry and traditional materials like brass hardware, hardwood floors, and wooden paneling. Consider antique or 18th-century inspired furniture and decorations to complement the historic aesthetic. Emphasize a natural color palette to maintain the timeless appeal of the Colonial Revival style.