Feeling historic? Try a colonial theme in your home

There's something uniquely charming about visiting an old colonial home at a museum or historic village. 

Catching a glimpse of how the colonists of early Australia once lived is a fascinating experience, as every aspect of their style and aesthetics seems so familiar, yet strangely alien.

These wonderful stylings and colour palettes don't just have to live in memory, however, as you can replicate much of the concept in your own home. Looking to create a memorable and historic look? Try colonial with these tips.

The colour wheel

There are two basic themes to a colonial home that you will see no matter which museum you visit. 

The first involves bright, muted hues, generally of an off-white nature but occasionally diversifying into other white-washed colours.

The second is wood. As many colonial homes, especially in the earliest of early days, were entirely hand-built by the settlers themselves, wooden architectural highlights often feature very heavily.

Combined, these two aesthetic themes create the desired early-settler appeal. 

In your home, consider using bright neutrals to replicate the airy sense of space that old 18th/19th Century homes tried to achieve. As many were small or surrounded by hard conditions, having a bright home to return to was psychologically beneficial for the workers, on top of making the spaces feel larger. 

To that end, you should paint both your walls and your ceiling in the same hue, so it's hard to tell where one joins the other. Resene Alabaster is a popular choice, though Resene Colonial White would also be appropriate.

The wood colour is entirely up to you, as wood types varied depending on what trees were available to fell. Resene Dark Oak is a luscious stain that contrasts well with bright neutral surroundings, though if that's too dark you could always experiment and see what suits you best.

Furniture and decor

Upper class houses of this era often had elaborate designs carved into the walls and pillars, all inspired by both classic French and Greek architecture. If you have the budget and manpower to perform a complete renovation of your home, you should consider researching these designs to see if they will work for you. Picture rails, archway doors, pillars and crown mouldings were all popular. 

However, many of you simply won't have the time and/or money to achieve such work, so you will need to rely more heavily on the furniture and decor to achieve the classic, antique look. 

When choosing furniture, make sure to shop around in antique stores. Most modern furniture outlets will sell designs and stylings that are too contemporary, and could betray the colonial aesthetic. Antique stores, on the other hand, offer a more eclectic range of classic sofas, chests of drawers, tables and other elements of house furniture that could work more readily.

Four-poster beds with ornately carved headboards and pillars were a sign of luxury and class in colonial times, and featured heavily in many houses. These can be a little easier to find, too, than a classic antique sofa, and look great in almost any bedroom. For the ultimate effect, try to find frames that are in a colour akin to Resene English Walnut, as this dark hue will stand out impressively as the feature piece in a bright room.

Soften your windows with delicate net curtains, which are great in summer, and then lavish your walls with elaborate oil paintings in equally well-designed wooden frames. You could also throw down a rug or two onto your wooden floors, especially in the living area around the seating. Muted reds look very classy in the colonial setting, though don't be afraid to experiment in order to get what suits you best.

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