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Portrait of a Girl in a Red Dress Giclee Print by Ammi Phillips
Portrait of a Girl in a Red Dress

18 x 24 in
Ammi Phillips

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Wooden figurines evoke the Americana spirit

Throw pillows and simple check patterns

It's all in the details

Weather vanes
with 2 -Dimensional metal cut figures



By: Juliette Gilbert

Outside the early American farmhouse, a wooden sign, carved in the shape of a pointing hand, sternly admonishes: "America: Love It or Leave It."  And judging from the contents of the Americana-inspired home, the inhabitants choose to love it. 

The house itself, built in 1783, testifies to 200 years of American ideals: simple, forthright lines, welcoming but plain spoken color, only the barest ornament in the form of a weathervane or whitewashed trim.  Inside, though, a wealth of treasured Americana provides a touching testimony to a love of home -- and homeland.

The basic furnishings of an Americana house are unpretentious, even homespun.  Wide planked oak or pine floors and historic color tones such as muted greens, slate blues and red or coral tones provide a rich historical backdrop.  But it is in the details that the space is truly defined.

Decorative arts both naive and accomplished display patriotic colors and themes.  Stars and stripes abound, in classic as well as quirky forms.  In formal spaces, prized folk art like a beautifully crafted flag quilt can add historical heft to the decor.  In less-traveled areas of the house, Old Glory can be put to more quotidian uses.  
A flag bedspread and pillows perk up a simple white bedroom set.  A comfortable upholstered sofa is adorned with stars-and-stripes throw pillows, making for equal parts Betsy Ross and Edith Bunker.


The Americana home must be neither a museum exhibit nor a kitsch palace.  A combination of antique utilitarian artifacts with patriotic crafts can make for an intriguing blend of national history and postmodern junk shop wit.  

In one inspired corner, pictured above, austere early American paintings hang beneath a ceiling exuberantly decorated with red and white stripes.

Inside and outside the house, loosely painted commonplace objects in red, white and blue -- like a flag-themed section of picket fence -- add a funky, down-home tone.  And for decorators unafraid of the junkyard aesthetic, even old farm machinery, tools, and auto parts can take on a patriotic air.

The most treasured finds of all for the Americana enthusiast may be the commonplace objects -- toys, whatnots, household wares -- of the  past, particularly if they have a patriotic theme. 

An Abe Lincoln dancing wooden doll reminds us that patriots past also had a sense of fun.  When coupled with more substantial pieces of Americana like an antique pie chest or simple country furniture in Shaker or Pennsylvania Dutch style, these whimsical items can take on a touching reverence.


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