On the paths of interior design along Route 66: Abundance of styles and plenty of inspiration
Route 66: American mother of all roads. The first connection between the East and West Coast, from Chicago in the east to Santa Monica in the west. Dating back to 1926, the route covers 3940km and crosses the states of Illinois, Missouri, Kansas, Oklahoma, Texas, New Mexico, Arizona and California. What used to be the main US road is today mainly deserted and somewhat forgotten; dusty, but full of spirit. It is not merely the mother road, it is a museum of times past, a piece of memorabilia in itself, a reflection of an era, events, music, songs and people. The time of Elvis, James Dean, Marilyn Monroe and true American diners painted in bright colours is standing still, frozen, unchanged, bringing you back to times when there was more song and dancing. Inspiring above all, each mile represents a different state topography – covering everything from corn fields, through almond plantations and green forests to cacti deserts. Let us also not forget vistas of mountains, rivers, streams, vast plains and the road stretching endlessly before your eyes. It connects two worlds, two oceans, two extremes when it comes to people, lifestyle, nature… This is the road that will allow you to travel deep inside yourself and discover inspiration and creation.
With all the wonderful things that this trip gave us, it was interior design that really fuelled our passion. That comes as no surprise, but at this time it was completely different.
Parts of the route are marked by the Victorian era, with a breath of the American South and houses constructed in Victorian style reminiscent of “Honest Abe’s” time. This era is characterised by massive, mainly mahogany or rosewood furniture, while decor includes flowers and animals. The style is also known for decorations such as lush chandeliers and carpets as well as paintings and mirrors with rich frames.
American diners are alive and kicking along most of Route 66. Authentic, special, wonderful. Just like we remember them from old movies. Everything we had a chance to see from 1950s and 1960s movie sets is still alive, preserved, and practically identical! They only differ in colours and materials, depending on in which state on the route they are located. The interior of these diners is what brings us back to some old days as if by time machine. While sipping classic drip coffee, i.e. American filter coffee of enormous size, you feel immersed in this era, like being a part of the 50s, 60s and 70s, alongside all the legends that also marked the lives of us living far away on the old continent, on the other side of the world.
Diners attract you with fresh coffee aromas and photos of legendary American figures. Old movies, cartoons, rock and roll, forgotten objects.
Following the trails of the times past, in remote areas and almost deserted towns you will sometimes encounter a museum of the route itself, with vivid depictions of interior design from around the time of mid-20th century and pre-war and post-war period.
For the large part of Route 66 we felt like we were in Mexico or Spain, which is closer to us Europeans. The population of the state of New Mexico, parts of Arizona and parts of California differs from the rest of USA as these are federal states with the largest share of Hispanic population, many of whom are descendants of Spanish colonists, as well as with significant numbers of Native Americans. The result is that people and culture in those states are unique thanks to their strong Spanish, Mexican and Native American cultural influences. Due to such differences, the state of New Mexico is sometimes incorrectly perceived as part of Mexico’s territory by some Americans from other parts of the country. The interior in these parts has abundance of colours. From dramatic clay floors to high ceilings and wall plastering, Latin American influence can be seen everywhere. Such interior design is always spiritual and vibrant.
When you travel day after day, you become increasingly enchanted with the American classics in interior design. Classics here do not mean what we know as classical style – rather it is the style nowadays found under a common denominator of American interior design: oversized appliances such as stoves, refrigerators and kitchen sinks that small Europeans might practically be able to bathe in. We must also mention recognizable parts of the bathroom such as a typical American standard toilet, much larger than those of renowned European manufacturers and with a different flushing system. Faucets with separate hot and cold water and smaller sized, mostly white tiles, the ones that are currently popular in Europe, are even more recognisable. Wooden chests or cabinets into which wash basins are integrated warm up the look of each bathroom while delighting with many different combinations. Massive couches or sofas, chairs or recliners on porches. Low ceilings and prefabricated structures. Distinct smell of wood and carpets or rugs. Huuuuge beds. King size by all means – sometimes even 200x250cm. Crazy, right? Heavy, solid wood dressers. All of the above are characteristics of American interior design. How can you not love it?
However, what we enjoyed the most when it comes to interior design on this amazing trip was the contemporary style. That includes everything from the plethora of different styles from the second half of the 20th century. It is impossible not to notice objects with soft, rounded lines, the very opposite of modern design with its sharp lines. Such interior design is based on neutral elements and clean colours, emphasising basic lines, shapes and forms.
After 35 days of an amazing journey, crossing the entire continent from east to west, from the Atlantic to the Pacific, we decided to cross a part of the Pacific Highway, from San Diego to San Francisco, where we absolutely adored the exterior and nature. Over hundred types of palm trees, flowers in hundreds of shades, greenery of all types and shapes and steep coast overlooking the vast ocean. We got all that we could have possible asked for from this journey, we found inspiration in spaces and nature and came home with plenty of ideas and a conclusion that the entire earth is one beautiful happy habitat and its every part a potential place for settling down in a way that we deep inside wish or dare to dream of.