Adirondack Interior“I have worked on a number of Adirondack style projects over the years, and it’s been a pleasure to immerse myself in this uniquely American decorative style.

“When the rich Robber Barons of the Gilded Age decided to escape the fetid air and sweaty humanity of a summer in New York City, they decamped to the mountains upstate, to Lake George and Saratoga Springs in the Adirondacks. Although these wealthy railroad and steamship tycoons emulated Europe when they decorated their Fifth Avenue townhouses, for their summer retreats rustic was the rage. The more authentically woodsy their surroundings the better. So the hallmark of Adirondack style is using wood in as many different forms and on as many different surfaces as possible, from polished dark mahogany to the bark of birch trees to the rough pitted knots of Knotty pine. The wood panels can be positioned vertically or horizontally in beaded board of various widths, or in the elaborate concentric squares of stepped back ceilings. On the outside, local stone is used as highlights. Brown weathered shingles and slate roofs are sometimes substituted for traditional log construction.

“The most typical Adirondack furniture is the sloped back chair in a variety of woods, used primarily on a porch or deck. Traditionally it is kept in its natural color; modern interpretations find the chair painted in bright colors or with natural scenes. To achieve a more rustic effect, chests, end tables and mirrors might be made of rough hickory wood, with drawers and tops covered in applied bark. The authentic feel continues with chandeliers made of antlers, and standing lamps and sconces swathed in applied tree branches and twigs. I use these elements sparingly, as highlights, while using other textures and materials as the anchors for the design. Sofas and armchairs should be solid, large and comfortable, with deep cushions.

“Floors are mostly wood, though slate or quarry tile can also work. They should be covered with geometrically patterned rugs or worn Oriental styles. Window treatments should be simple, wool plaid, linen, or you can use shutters or wooden blinds.

“Colors emphasize the wilderness connection: rich greens, beige’s, reds and browns. Motifs from nature, whether flora or fauna, add interest to pillows, window treatments and tablecloths.

“The tradition of antlered lamps is extended through use of all manner of taxidermy, from deer heads to pheasants to owls, though you can retain the natural feel without going overboard on stuffed animals by using prints or wooden carvings. Plush wool blankets should be prevalent, perhaps with geometric patterns, and fishing paraphernalia, boat paddles and duck decoys are popular decorative accessories, as are antique framed black and white photographs.

“The level of rusticity in an Adirondack home can of course be dialed back. My feeling is that less is more. Elegant use of warm woods, stone and tile, an outdoor palette with simple patterns, “field and stream” accessories and rough-hewn highlights, give my Adirondack home a rustic feel combined with casual elegance.”

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