Between the attack ads, the nonstop news coverage and the late-night talk show circuit, it can certainly feel like election season is invading your living room. But can it go so far as to inspire your decor? According to one home design expert, yes.
“During periods of political uncertainty, there is a natural inclination to reminisce about blissful memories — like family vacations or barbeques — and furnishings and decor can easily trigger those memories,” says Alex Bowman, lead trend forecaster of online home furnishing outlet Wayfair.
Maybe you’re looking to create a nostalgic escape. Maybe you’d rather do anything, up to and including wallpapering, than watch another political debate. Either way, we asked Bowman for some tips on introducing a little Americana into our abodes.
First things first: Rethink ‘Americana’
At some point, “Americana” became a dirty word. But contrary to popular—ahem, your suburban mom’s—belief, the aesthetic has nothing to do with Longaberger baskets and teddy bear stencils. “Modern Americana actually still draws from the past, but less 1970s and more 1870s,” says Bowman. “There’s a utilitarian aspect to a hip Americana look. Think about your favorite pair of jeans; they’re 100 percent comfortable and still stylish. We’re pulling inspiration from America’s pioneering past for pattern and color inspiration—think indigo stripes, hand-drawn botanicals, and quilting-inspired geometrics. Reclaimed and distressed wood furniture adds an air of authenticity to the mix.”
A flag on the front lawn is great. But if you want to nod to Old Glory’s color scheme inside your home a bit less literally, take a cue from nautical decor. “Nautical is instantly patriotic,” says Bowman. “Red, white and blue is the go-to color palette for a seaside inspired look. That sun-soaked and salt-washed look is something that we’re drawn to from memories of family beach vacations.”
Pattern, pattern and more pattern
Pattern will be especially big in the fall, when a preppy nostalgia takes hold as school returns to session and the election approaches. For a contemporary take, mix and match prints liberally. “If you already have a foundation of patterned decor, the easiest way to update is to add more pattern,” says Bowman. “A good rule of thumb is to mix in different scales and subjects. If your sofa is covered in striped pillows, bring in a large-scale floral pillow and a washed-out oriental rug—the contrast of rigid stripes and organic floral adds huge impact to a living space.”
Keeping up with decor trends requires considerable money or a little craftiness. Personally, we prefer the latter. Here are Bowman’s top tips for keeping things fresh while keeping under budget.
“I keep a couple shelves in my closet dedicated to all the fun decorative objects I’ve collected over the years. So each season I can ‘go shopping’ in my own house to freshen up my decor.”
“Swapping out blankets and throws is an easy update. Retire wool and heavy blankets and replace them with 100-percent cotton and linen blends for a light and airy feel through warmer months.” “Collect vases, jars and containers without hesitation — they work for candle holders, flowers, branches, terrariums and just grouped together in a collection.” “Trays are great because they corral clutter. Stack your magazines in a tray, add a candle, and boom—instant update.”