Your Guide to the Stunning Greek Revival Architecture
Greek revival architecture is, as the name suggests, a style inspired by Greece and developed in the United States. It is historical and stunning and still popular in public buildings and homes across the U.S. today. Let’s explore the history of this style and what it’s defining features are.
History of Greek Revival Architecture
Greek revival architecture is inspired by and based on the temples of Ancient Greece. During the first half of the 19th century, the style began popping up across the United States. There are a few theories as to why it showed up when it did. The most generally accepted theory is that during this time in the U.S., there was an influx of interest in ancient Greek art, culture, and philosophy, while at the same time the population was embracing the ideologies of Greece. For example, since this was during the time of the Civil War, the North built these homes to symbolize the freedom of the Greek people (during their war with Turkey). The South used it to represent a culture built on a slave society.
Many of America’s large government buildings used Greek revival architecture. Notable figures like Thomas Jefferson even commissioned the style in designs for buildings like the Virginia State Capitol Building. Soon many public buildings emulated the style, from churches, to libraries, to homes. This became the first truly national style of architecture in the country.
Characteristics of Greek Revival Architecture
Greek revival architecture is most recognized for it’s vast columns and pilasters. The style is symmetrical and formal. The buildings are typically white, and bold and heavy. Building materials include stucco, wood, and sometimes stone. They are often painted white to resemble marble. In terms of roofing, they usually use low pitched gabled roofs. Finally, there are typically tall, double hung windows.
Greek revival architecture also uses elaborate entrances and front doors. The doors could be either single or double, but were paneled and surrounded by extensive decoration, including paneled sidelights and ornate trim.
Greek Revival Interior Design
Greek revival in interior design is usually referred to as “Neo-Grec.” Greek inspired sofas and the “klismos” chair were popular. Heavily decorated, heavy furniture pieces like armchairs are a big part of the style.
In ancient times, Greek buildings and interiors were actually painted in bright colors. The reason we see them all as white and neutral colors now is because the paint has worn away over the centuries. However, if you want to decorate in the original Greek style, decorate your interiors with bright colors. If you want to decorate in the true revival style, rather than sticking to the original, choose lots of neutral earth tone colors.
While you’re decorating in the Greek style, whether original or revival, browse some of our beautiful Greek embroideries and textiles and see if any of them speak to you. They may just be perfect for your Greek revival decor.