Design American Style
WRITTEN BY SAMANTHA EMMERLING
QUILTS, CROCKS, AND WOOD CARVINGS—these are some words that come to mind when one hears the word “Americana.” But folk art and small-town living are a limited take on a country of this breadth and enormity. Today, American style has evolved into a multi-faceted approach incorporating a full range of ideas and inspiration.
In the West and Southwest a merging of Native American and European styles is one of many design aesthetics. “Native American heritage and the frontier lifestyle gave us the reference to antler furniture, raw wood, and rich textiles. These things take us back to our roots—and we don’t have to look back centuries. We’re just a short distance away from where we started,” says Ann Sutherland, Perennials’s CEO.
In his New York apartment, legendary designer Robert Stilin creates an eclectic, vibrant room centered around two dynamic prints by artist Wade Guyton—showing how contemporary American art has its own place in the conversation about the new Americana.
In the American Southwest, celebrated former design editor Mary Emmerling—who repopularized American folk art in the early 1980s—today takes a more modern approach with the design of her Arizona home. American antiques still play a large role but are updated with a casual, coastal Shabby Chic sofa and a modern Tolomeo floor lamp. Traditional American motifs are rounded out with more global gestures like a Moroccan pouf and zebra rug.
Los Angeles-based designer Mark Sikes—known as one of the most important American designers working today— takes an updated approach to the classic American blue- and-white theme. In his own home library—with its layers of pattern and texture—the room feels fresh and unexpected.
When it comes to the new Americana, it’s folk art with a twist—an oversized spongeware pattern, a twig table made of cement, or a traditional wood ladderback chair in bright red.
David Sutherland explains, “America is fortunate in that we’re surrounded by the Atlantic and the Pacific because it gives us our own identity. We can draw from other cultures or other continents, but we’re going to build on our own history.”
In the dining area of Robert Stilin’s New York apartment, two Wade Guyton prints hang majestically over a Guillerme et Chambron table and Marolles Chairs, in a grand nod to the power of American art in design today. Inspired by the subtle, rustic yet elegant look of this room, we chose some distinctly American pieces to achieve the look.
Left to Right: The Great Camp Adirondack Chair streamlines and updates an American classic, sutherlandfurniture.com. Tory Burch plays with scale to modernize a traditional spongeware pitcher, toryburch.com. Tom Corbin’s “Hiero-Man” marries contemporary art with a classic American motif, corbinbronze.com. Traditional wicker is refreshed with Bunny Williams’s fanciful, whimsical Lucas drinks table, bunnywilliamshome.com.
Mary Emmerling’s own living room in Scottsdale, Arizona, features a myriad of antiques and vintage finds all culled from craft and art fairs such as Objects of Art & American Indian/Tribal in Santa Fe, New Mexico and the Roundtop Antiques Fair in Roundtop, Texas. Emmerling strikes just the right balance between new and old, and expertly brings in global accents like a zebra-patterned rug and a Moroccan pouf to round out the distinctly American flair of the room. Choose some patterns and motifs to add flair to your own decor.
“Innovation is often the ability to reach into the past and bring back what is good, what is beautiful, what is useful, what is lasting.” -SISTER PARISH
Left to Right: Southwestern I Rug by Perennials, perennialsfabrics.com. Footed Table by John Dickinson through Sutherland, sutherlandfurniture.com. New West Tile from Clé, cletile.com. Bixby Hutch by Lindye Galloway, lindyegalloway.com.
Layered and dynamic, fresh and bright are the watchwords in Mark D. Sikes’s home library. Blue and white is a classic American motif, but it takes a deft hand to keep it from looking clichéd. Every inch is considered—from the walls and ceiling covered in Shumacher’s Ojai Stripe to the perfect accent of the Houlès trim on a Pindler Roman shade. A Henredon slipper chair covered in Pierre Frey’s Toile de Nantes fabric sits center stage. Add some traditional touches to your own décor with some of our selections.
Above: The Broderick daybed by Serena & Lily can be upholstered in Perennials Gingham, serenaandlily.com. Wicker Jar Lamp by Sarah Bartholomew for Mainly Baskets, mainlybaskets.com.
Left to Right: Summer Fun by Bradford Stewart through David Sutherland, perennialsandsutherland.com. Juniper Dining Chair by Mark D. Sikes for Chaddock, chaddockhome.com. Blue Painted Linen Check Napkin by Hudson Grace, hudsongracesf.com. The Corin by Ron Dier Design, rondierdesign.com.