For those of you who have been following along, you know I’ve been on a cross-country road trip to learn more about American interior design styles. Over the holidays, I drove with my family as we embarked on a camping trip to the Frio River. Along the way, we passed a sign for a Texas town called Mountain Home. What a sweet and welcoming name for a town! As we continued on our way, Take Me Home, Country Roads by John Denver came on the radio. I got a little choked up remembering my (nonexistent) family mountain home and feeling nostalgic for a place I’d never been. I spent the next leg of our journey daydreaming about driving up curvy roads, coming home to a chalet-inspired abode, and walking into the kitchen with red-checkered cafe curtains and a cup of hot chocolate waiting for me on the counter. So, what about the “mountain home” style resonates with us? From the Appalachians to the Rockies, mountain home interior design is ingrained in our country’s notion of comfort. In this travelog, I explain my own experience with mountain-home design, important style influences & elements, why the look is trending, and what a mountain home really means to us.
My Own Experience with Mountain Home Inspired Interior Design
I love romantic interiors, and there is something romantic about the rustic lore of a mountain home. From The Lord of the Rings to Moses and the tablets, mountains have signified a place of mystery and spiritual connection — getting away from the world and discovering something else amid quiet and inspiring nature. The romance of the mountains has captured my imagination since reading Heidi as a child. It’s amazing how children’s books can go on to inspire our interior design decisions as adults. The funny thing is, while I love the idea of the mountains, I absolutely hate heights and skiing. You can find me safe in the lodge next to a roaring fire with a cup of hot chocolate in hand, possibly even dreaming up my next interior design project.
The Holiday Haus Project
The Amity Worrel & Co. team and I recently completed a project where I relived my childhood love of Heidi and designed my vision of her cozy mountain home. Holiday Haus is a quaint guest house with cozy nooks for reading, lots of red and white checkered curtains, and a faux bois wallpaper that gives the space the feeling of a log cabin. Walking into the finished project was a dream come true.
Whether designing a mountain home, an urban ranch, or a Cape Cod cottage, we work to impart the same feeling of safety and warmth into all of our projects. This involves everything from choosing soothing colors and warm textures to sourcing furniture that invites you to curl up with a blanket and a good book. Our designs are really about unlocking that sense of comfort, but more on that later.
Influences on the Mountain Home Style
From the Swiss Alps to the American Rockies, there are many mountain-home styles to draw inspiration from. Here are a few that continue to inspire us.
Many of us picture the classic American log cabin when we think of a mountain getaway. Built with post and beam construction, log cabins typically feature exposed logs, vaulted ceilings, and dramatic stone fireplaces in the center of the homes.
The Scandinavian farmhouse offers simplicity layered with the comforts of Hygge. These abodes often feature clean lines, thoughtfully-framed windows, light wood finishes, and cozy textiles within easy reach.
Going back to Heidi, the Swiss Chalet is a much more intricate mountain home, including gabled rooflines, gingerbread trims, charming wooden balconies, and darling shutters.
Adirondack Lake Houses
Located in upstate New York, the Adirondack Mountains offer a luxury lakeside mountain retreat for city dwellers during the summer. Adirondack homes draw inspiration from the Swiss Chalet but mix in a bit of American Craftsman.
Elements of the Mountain Home Interior Design Style
With so many mountain ranges across America and the globe, what defines the mountain-home style? Is it the log construction, oversized stone fireplaces, divided-light windows, overstuffed furniture, or a taxidermy mount on the wall? Here are some common denominators of the mountain-home style — no matter the range.
Color plays a prominent role in the mountain home and how we feel in spaces in general. Mountain homes are there to ground and soothe us, relying on earthy colors pulled from the landscape, like rich browns, warm grays, and toasty caramels. Of course, accents of classic red checks are always welcomed.
In colder climates, it’s essential to layer in warm textiles. Mountain homes bring in fabrics like wool, cotton flannel, and velvet. I find it’s also lovely when cabins include linen curtains that feel a little less structured and let in more light, adding to the warm, lived-in feel. While these fabrics feel nice to the touch, they also create a visual texture that wraps you in warmth as soon as you enter the space.
Rustic Building Materials
Nothing says mountain home like exposed wood beams and stacked stone. Rustic building elements contribute to the cozy, earthy feel we expect. Additionally, I think it’s nice to bring in natural materials like dark soapstone countertops.
Certain finishes just remind you of the comforts of grandma’s house. Familiar finishes, like ceramic tile backsplashes, enameled farmhouse sinks, and brass taps, add a bit of vintage charm that contributes to the feeling of warm nostalgia.
Mountain-style Homes (or at Least Rustic Getaways) are Trending
I’m not the only one looking for a mountain home retreat! Arch Digest recently featured a “not your average mountain getaway” in Canada that is truly captivating. It made it clear to me the “mountain home” holds its rank as its own design style and is truly a luxury. Whether you embrace the style in your full-time abode, second home, or in your imagination, like me, the mountain home provides an unsurpassed sense of comfort that we can’t help but crave.
The Mountain Home is Really about Comfort…
What captivates me about the mountain home is the juxtaposition of the harsh mountains, which can be cold, dark, and unforgiving at times, to the level of warmth, safety, and comfort inside the dwelling. Once you cross the threshold, you are protected from the snow and greeted with a fireplace, warm food, cozy beds, pleasant smells, and lovely views outside the windows. This desire for comfort and safety in our home is universal. Comfort is the nostalgia I feel for the mountain home.
We all need a retreat from the harshness of the world, whether it’s a mountain lodge or a farmhouse in the plains.
Amity Worrel is an award-winning interior designer based in Austin, Texas. She has worked on high-end interior design projects for celebrities and tastemakers in NYC, LA, and the Bahamas. In 2008, Amity decided to bring her passion for diverse design back to her hometown of Austin. Her spaces pull from timeless design concepts ranging from coastal contemporary to cozy cottage to Austin eclectic. Emotional connections, functional flow, and a touch of humor remain central to every interior design scheme. Her work has been published in national and local publications, including The Wall Street Journal, House Beautiful, HGTV Magazine, Better Homes and Gardens, and Austin Home. In her free time, she loves perusing estate sales and diving into design history. Learn more about Amity.