Today will see fierce competition. If you’re a football fan, you look forward to it all year. We wonder right up until the end if it’s going to be a worthwhile match-up. Will the two teams who fight and claw their way to the top have…great style? I was hoping for a feature of the iconic shot-gun houses, curlicue French Quarter balconies, and exuberant colors of New Orleans. But we won’t bite into that beignet. At least we get New England and the City of Angels, two distinctly distant locations.
First, let’s look at these regions broadly to understand the whys behind the ways design manifests there. The most important thing to know about Los Angeles in this context is that it’s the entertainment capital of the world. LA is synonymous with Hollywood, a birthplace for lifestyle and fashion trends. Glamour, individuality, and drama are an industry, as are youth and beauty and talent. This is where you go to see your name in lights or to live eternal summer; a notion personified by bare beach feet in high priced heels.
The idea of New England is rooted in history and tradition, with attitudes leaning to formal or functional. Founded on Puritanism, practicality, education, and fishing, it’s less diamond and more pearl. For all I’ve heard, LA can seem large in every sense. I know New England (aside from the vastness that is Maine) to have an approachable and not unpleasant feeling of modesty.
Both regions do have a little in common. They share a foundation in agriculture, with Los Angeles County being the largest producer of crops in the US until the 1950s. Though with a much briefer growing season, New England is known for cranberry bogs, blueberry bushes, and the mining of its own kind of gold: Maple Syrup. Farming communities built the backbone of early New England, and the culture, if not the career, is still widely romanticized. They both have a coastal tie; LA looks left over the Pacific, toward balmy Hawaii and the exotic Far East. New England seaports face right, reaching past the Atlantic and straight to the pilgrim land. Ocean lifestyle pervades their experiences.
Both regions tend to love elements that are exemplified by cozy cottage, humble farmhouse, and rambling Victorian styles: exposed ceiling beams, hardwood floors, shiplap, fireplaces, gardens, porches and patios. Or are those universal infatuations? Left coast, left. Right coast, right.
Spanish Revival, Mid-Century Modern, and the Craftsman Bungalow are key architectural styles of LA. The Greek Revival, Colonial, and Cape Cod are common New England houses. Of course, ascribing these themes is all a bit stereotypical. Because, with the massive amount of information sharing and passion for interiors and home design at present, a New England farmhouse or a Hollywood Hills mansion can be found almost anywhere else. And plenty of homes in these two regions have been inspired by travel and exposure to new design vernaculars.
No matter which side you’re rooting for today, we can all be fans of some specific design properties each hometown brings to the game, along with the laid-back, sunny vibes of Southern California, and the rich character of historic New England. Maybe we’re all better off not choosing just one.
Written by Kelly Welton