Good style is universal, but the individual vibe of a place stems from the experience of living there--the weather, the population density, and types of industries that power a city all affect its overall vibe. Here’s a look at what interiors are like in the three largest U.S. cities.
New York City
Real estate in the Big Apple tends to be small (after all, the biggest city in the United States is hemmed in by water on almost all sides), so the goal of decorators here is to make the most of the space. Think sleek furnishings, built-ins galore, metallic details, and lots of fashion-forward black.
Much of the city’s architecture is old, meaning you get creaky floors and cranky plumbing--character, in real estate parlance--but also the benefit of truly unique spaces that can handle any style of interior design. Some quirks of New York apartments include kitchen bathtubs, “railroad”-style units without hallways, and the occasional air shaft. Another quirk is the parking situation, or lack thereof--but 55% of households get by without a car, so it’s just as well. (For comparison, only about 9% of households nationwide are carless). Midcentury design lovers will enjoy the Eero Saarinen-designed TWA Flight Center at JFK International, where a retro boutique hotel is opening later this year.
LA is the opposite of NYC in many ways. Opposite coast, and opposite problem when it comes to space. Los Angeles is the personification of sprawl. Residential spaces tend towards the horizontal, rather than vertical--ranches and bungalows instead of tall apartment towers--and the style of its residents reflects the sunny, colorful landscape with beachy, boho-inspired decor, a plethora of courtyards and outdoor space, accents that reflect the region’s proximity to Mexico.
Los Angelenos need cars to get around the vast metropolis, so garages and carports are far more common here than in New York City. Do you know the difference between a ranch and a bungalow? Both are usually a single story, but ranch homes tend to look like long rectangles with a good deal of hallway space to separate bedrooms from the living room and kitchen, while bungalows are more square in shape with rooms arranged in front of each other.
Either way, if midcentury modern is your thing, California is the jackpot when it comes to finding examples of this iconic architecture--like the designer house, located in Pacific Palisades, which is open to tours (reservations required).
Architecture nerds, rejoice: the Chicagoland area is home to several buildings and homes designed by Frank Lloyd Wright, especially in the suburbs of River Forest and Oak Park (including his one-time home and studio, worth a tour for residents and visitors alike). But even if you can’t afford to live in a home designed by an icon, you can still embrace the Midwestern sensibility present in his “Prairie-style” work--thoughtful design, useful and usable spaces, and a focus on building around natural elements, including natural light, which is very important for surviving the depths of a Chicago winter.
With Lake Michigan’s glittery shoreline stretching along the entire east side of the city, residents are reminded of the beach even when the temperatures are below zero--in good weather, you’ll see plenty of kites and boats out on the water.