Classic All-American Preppy Style

While preppy style started as a fashion trend, it has also influenced the understated interior design of the same name. Ralph Lauren, considered the father of all things preppy, has marketed both preppy fashion and interior design, making it accessible to a mass audience. Preppy style mimics the imagined interior spaces of “old money” Northeasterners. It allows those living anywhere in the country to present themselves as preppies even if they have never been to Cape Cod. Here are some recommendations for achieving the real preppy look through a few decorative details:

Pattern play

While the preppy home may look comfortable and easy, it is anything but. What makes the signature preppy style work are patterns carefully chosen and mixed so they do not overwhelm each other. These patterns include the popular plaids, paisleys, madras, gingham checks, herringbones and, of course, nautical stripes. Be mindful of the scale of the patterns you choose, as small patterns may get lost in a room while large ones may compete for visual attention.

Colors do not have to match, but they should be in the same family. Preppy color preferences tend toward rich tones like navy, red, pine green, mellow gold and rich brown. Another celebrated color pairing is pink and green, made famous by legendary preppy icon Lilly Pulitzer. Preppies don’t just relegate pink to a child’s room. It can be happily sprinkled everywhere. Yet, if a bedroom is painted or wallpapered in a modern bold pink color, it can be toned down with liberal helpings of crisp white for the window treatments and bed covers. Navy blue-and-white-striped accent pillows complete the more contemporary look.

Furniture: Old school

Preppy furniture tends toward well-made materials and timeless styles. Think matching club chairs, Chesterfield leather sofas and Oriental or kilim area rugs — all just a little bit worn out for authenticity. Traditional rich wood furniture figures prominently in any room, especially in the den and living room. Any inherited antique furniture is meant to be enjoyed and not fussed over. Great-grandma’s stately mahogany dining room table and chairs should never be reserved for holidays only; they should be enjoyed every day. Reupholster the chairs in colorful patterns or stripes for a modern take on a traditional style.

Budget-friendly wicker and bamboo furniture is also quintessentially preppy. A tall wicker bookcase in a bedroom adds texture to the space. On a smaller scale, wicker parasol lamps are preppy staples and add personality to any room. Whatever furniture you choose, keep it classic.

Accent pieces

These are the small details that deliver the preppy punch. Nautical-themed pillows, maps and prints; anything Americana; and sports and outdoor motifs are hallmarks of preppy decor. Don’t forget to add some equestrian touches as well in prints or braided accent rugs. And what would any self-respecting preppy home be without a book collection displayed in built-in bookcases flanking a fireplace in the living room or family room. Add traditional crystal table lamps and winged leather chairs for reading and you have the makings of a cozy, preppy retreat.

Even if you never attended an Ivy League college, went to a prep school or wore a pair of boat shoes, you can still share in the preppy style of interior design. Contact us to help you find a home where you can indulge your inner preppy.

Claudine Steinfurth
(216) 409-4039
RE/MAX Above & Beyond
7570 Chippewa Road
Brecksville, OH 44141

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