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East Coast or West Coast—What’s Your Favorite Style of Lodge?

Decorating in the Lodge Style

Decorating interiors in a rustic or lodge style began in the mountains of Europe. Out of necessity and because the roads were not very good (that is, when there were roads), most lodge keepers would fashion their own furniture and decorations out of what they had on hand or from the supplies they could get nearby.

Rustic, rough timbers; bent wood furniture; leather; animal skins; river rock or slate – these were the primary materials used to furnish and decorate the historic European mountain lodges. And when Europeans came to North America, of course, they brought this style with them.

The History of the American Lodge Style

At first, the style was used in frontier cabins, but as the frontier moved westward, so did lodge style furnishings and decoration. Fast-forward to the eighteenth, nineteenth, and twentieth centuries, and we first see lodge style decorating in the lodges being built in the wilderness areas of the east coast. Then later, the style spread throughout the upper Midwest, the American Southwest, as well as the mountains and along the rivers and beaches of the west coast.

The Finer Points of East Coast Lodge Style

Because lodge style furnishing and decorating rely heavily on available nearby materials, there are big differences between the style of the East Coast lodge and the style of lodges in other areas. In the east, the majority of the historic lodges were built throughout the nineteenth century. Some echo the Old World charm of European lodges, while others are more distinctly American Colonial in style.

The construction, decor, and furnishings of these lodges relies on the local shale and granite stones available from either quarry or from nearby streams and rivers; the pelts of local deer, fox, bear, and other large animals; and bent willow and hardwoods from the local deciduous forests. These materials dictated the style used to decorate East Coast lodges, a great example of which can be seen in the Adirondack-style lodge.

The Rustic Tradition of West Coast Lodge Style

Out in the West, no matter if we’re talking about lodges high in the Rocky Mountains, High Sierras, or Pacific Northwest Cascades, the style of West Coast lodges also depends on available local materials. In some areas, this may mean volcanic rock, while in others, it may mean granite. Across the west, the availability of softer woods – fir, pine, hemlock, and spruce – also meant diversity in decorating.

Further, as many lodges in the west were built in the late nineteenth and early twentieth centuries, loomed textiles (like the incredibly popular Pendleton wool blanket), allowed for more diversity in the appointments of rustic style. A great example of West Coast style exists in the Timberline Lodge, a WPA-built lodge located at the treeline on Mount Hood in Oregon.

A Word About the Southwest and the Great Lakes

The lodges of the Great Lakes states and the American Southwest also have their own distinctive styles, though the lodges of the Southwest are more closely related to the lodges of the West Coast, and the Great Lakes lodges owe more to their Eastern cousins than the lodges out West.

So Which Lodge Atmosphere Is Your Favorite?

Do you prefer the East Coast, Adirondack style of lodge with its bent wood decorations, rustic wood interiors and flagstone touches? Or do you prefer the West Coast, national park style of lodge with its fir timber construction, volcanic rock touches, and loomed wool throw blankets? Both styles are rustic in origin and favor whatever local materials are readily available, and the good news is that they play well together, too. So maybe you don’t have to choose, after all!