urns, desk, bust, candlesticks, and wallpaper that evoke the Federal style
Photo: Tria Giovan

Federal Style

A different George W. was President when Americans first tweaked European house styles to create something distinctly their own. The period just after the Revolutionary War (1780–1820) was a time to project hard-won dignity, not show off. Federal interiors featured muted wall colors, minimal trimwork painted white, and delicately carved or inlaid decoration. The only exceptions to the understated approach were the bold patriotic symbols—fighting eagles, chair backs shaped like shields, trophylike urns, and other celebrations of military pride.

Federal-style desk with reeded legs and oval rosettes, about $130; Target. Urns: wreath-embossed, about $31, and ram's-head-handled, about $350; Maryland China. Plaster bust, about $190; Oly Studuo
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