Friday, October 23, 2009

The Preppy Home

The Setting: Location, Location, Location Because it is essential that Preppy offspring meet the “right” people in his/her hometown, the location of the Preppy Home is crucial. The Preppy Home is set in an established neighborhood with lots of mature trees. The Preppy Home may be in the city or the country, or sometimes, the suburbs. Older suburbs are acceptable, but newer, subdivisions-cum-suburbs, are despired by Preps everywhere. Examples of Preppy suburbs are Brookline, Massachusetts; Bedford, New York, McLean, Virginia; Darien, Connecticut.

The Exterior
There are a few different types of Preppy Home. Styles vary based upon region, lifestyle, and, of course, personal tastes. As a rule, Preppy Homes are based upon high quality, natural materials. Old homes are preppy; the older, the better. New construction is NOT preppy.  Bonus points for an architecturally significant home.

Brick, wood and stone exteriors are favorites for the Preppy Home. Vinyl or other synthetic siding is a big no-no. Vinyl is not preppy.

The Interior
Preppy interiors include original hardwood floors (of course), which are usually covered with antique Oriental rugs. Faux Orientals are a faux pas; a prep who is so unlucky as to not have heirloom rugs handed down should leave floors bare or cover them with inexpensive, “I’m-not-trying-too-hard-and-these-just-work-with-our-busy-lifestyle” sisal or hooked wool rugs. Wall-to-wall carpeting is NOT Preppy.
The Prep Home is filled with original artwork and antiques. If it has not been passed down from family members, the Prep goes antiquing, slowly collecting pieces that cannot be found at Crate and Barrel or Pottery Barn. Although she has classic taste (never trendy), the Prep has a sophisticated eye, culled from extensive travel during her formative years. She learned grace and personal style at home, but most of what she learned about art, architecture and antiques, she picked up in New York City, London, Paris and Florence in museums, galleries and private homes. The Prep does not redecorate, she curates.

Preppy Regional Style
New England
The New England Preppy Home is part colonial home, part English manor house and part hunting lodge.  L. L. Bean style abounds. New England color schemes often center on the colors at the epicenter of the Preppy universe: Navy blue, hunter green and maroon.  Although the phrase only originated during WWII, New Englanders have been adhering to the WASP adage: "Use It Up, Wear It Out; Make It Do, Do Without," since they lived across the pond, and it is reflected in both their homes and their personal style. It informs their affinity for antiques (“hand-me-downs”), Grandmother’s furs, Mother’s jewelry and even Father’s old sweaters. To A New England Prep, a threadbare cushion does not signal poverty, but rather serves as a reminder of the generations of [insert family name here] that have relaxed on this armchair before us. Because of her affinity for history, the New England Prep rarely buys new things for her home. Why should she, when she has the club chairs from Grandfather’s old Beacon Hill office, the walnut dining set that Great-Grandfather gave Grandmother as a wedding gift, and the brass andirons that a distant relative carried over on the Mayflower? After all, things just aren’t made like that anymore…

The South
While the New Englander can precisely detail the life of every member of her family back to 1620, the Southern Prep tends to emphasize her family history only back to the genteel decades preceding the War of Northern Aggression. This is because many Southern Preppy families only became “established” in those decades, as they grew rich off of their Peculiar Institution. As such, the Southern Preppy interior is newer and more feminine than its New England counterpart. Like the New England Prep, the Southern Prep is influenced by Colonial décor, but the Victorian era brought muted colors and sumptuous fabrics to the Southern Preppy Home, and the Art Deco period lent clean lines and geometric shapes. Post-WWII interior design is not for Preps.

All true Southern Preps are descended from at least one Confederate General, and his large portrait, in muted oils (done in uniform of course) hangs like a badge of honor in the formal living room. Non-primary colors, floral prints and stripes abound in the Southern Preppy Home. While it might include the time-honored traditional preppy colors, a Southern Preppy Home might also have a formal living room done in pinks and greens, or a dining room with coral walls. While the New England Prep might consider a Southern Preppy Home to be showy or even a bit gaudy, the Southern Prep would likely believe the New Englander’s home to be drab, shabby and possibly outdated.


  1. I can't wait to have my own home!!

  2. I grew up in McLean, VA and it is quite preppy! :)

    --DC Prep

  3. love your blog... simply refreshing...

  4. As one with deeply established Family ties in New England and the Deep South, it is important to note that many Southern families maintain ties which pre-date those of New England. This is especially true of historic families in Virginia, South Carolina, Georgia, and Louisiana.

  5. Chip Campbell is correct. A Confederate officer (or spy if one lives in Atlanta) is a must. But descent from the Virginia gentry or cavaliers is a true bonus, particularly if there are faint hints of English aristocracy.

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