Federal Home Architecture and Design Features

Federal home design, sometimes referred to as Adam style or Federalist style, was most popular in the late 1700s and early 1800s.

They’re sometimes confused with their predecessor; Georgian Colonial homes.

However, Federal homes integrate design elements like curved lines, whereas Georgian Colonials tend to be more angular.

These homes are large, with two or three stories, and highly formal in appearance.

They’re rectangular rather than square, and almost always symmetrical.

Formal and stately, the Federal style home typically features exterior window shutters and brick or clapboard siding.Federal Exterior Design Features:

  • A flat, low pitched roof with a balustrade and sometimes a belvedere
  • Brick or clapboard exteriors
  • Double hung, shuttered windows with small panes
  • Often includes one or more Palladian windows
  • A central entrance which is usually flanked by columns and/or sidelights and sometimes topped with a fan-shaped window called a fanlight

Federal Interior Decor Features:

  • Common interior architectural details:
    • Crown molding
    • Dado
    • Chair rails
  • These homes often have fireplaces
  • Linoleum, ceramic and wood are the most common flooring options
  • Laminate, granite, and soapstone countertops are most common in the kitchen
  • Cabinets are usually raised, curved panels which are either stained or painted. Cherry, oak and maple are common materials

Made popular in 18th century colonial America, the Federal style home may be 2 or even 3 stories and usually features a front entry decorated with columns and sidelights.Federal Decorating Suggestions:

  • Formal floor plans and furnishings best suit Federal style homes. Consider integrating furnishings developed during the Colonial period, including later Chippendale or William and Mary styles.
  • Make the fireplace a focal point by arranging furniture symmetrically around it and topping it with a large painting or mirror. If the fireplace surround is underwhelming, flank it with Ionic columns topped with urns.
  • Georgian color schemes work well in Federal homes. Consider combining bold colors like lilac, bright blue, or red-brown with black to create a dramatic look.
  • Some decorating schemes that work particularly well with Federal design include:
    • Classic decor
    • Colonial style
    • Georgian design

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