Western Home Decor

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    History

    • Ranch houses of the 1850s and later were built primarily for shelter from the weather, with large fireplaces and small rooms for efficient heating. As more people moved west, the furnishings brought by covered wagons, such as a grandfather clock, hurricane lamps, or a washstand with a towel bar and porcelain basin, contributed a little more comfort. But most furnishings were practical, and passed down from generation to generation, like the ranch land itself.

    Geography

    • Originally, western home décor wasn't found until you crossed at least the Mississippi River and, in most instances, the Red River or Colorado. The range the cowboys rode was the same land the ranch houses and bunkhouses were located on, and usually the homes were few and far between. For the closest neighbors to be a day's ride away by horse or wagon wasn't unusual; raising beef cattle required a lot of land and good water.

    Features

    • Many items in the western home were made by hand and from whatever materials could be salvaged or taken from the surroundings. Trees and sawmills could both be many miles away, so some homeowners used adobe, a type of clay mud, to make bricks for the walls and for built-in deep window seats and hand-shaped fireplaces. Cloth for clothing and curtains was scarce, and reused many times before finally being used to piece quilt blocks.

    Identification

    • Nature's colors were frequently used, as clay red, sky blue and turquoise paint decorated chests and cupboards. Natural wood, sometimes with the bark left on, may be made into furniture frames or ceiling beams. "Bat wing" doors which swing are used, especially between a kitchen and den. Sometimes cattle brands are burned into wood paneling, curtains are made from bright bandanna material, and chairs and pillows are covered with cowhide. Saddles and Indian rugs complete the picture.

    Types

    • Several types of western décor are prevalent. Southwestern décor has plastered walls, brick or tile floors and colorfully-painted furniture; perhaps with a wall niche and a saint's statue within it. Ranch house décor emphasizes the mainstays of the ranching industry---the horse and the cattle, with saddle blankets, bridles, and branding irons hung on the walls. Or the chosen décor may lean more towards a hunting lodge look, with buffalo robes and mounted antelope heads displayed.

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