The materials and styles of American homes varied according to region and ethnic background. Most New England buildings were wooden, reflecting the plentiful lumber available in that region. In mid-Atlantic and Southern states, frame houses and brick houses were more prevalent. In the rural West, log cabins were the standard for settlers' houses.
Cleanliness was not a particularly valued virtue in many American houses, especially in farm households in which families were busy with the tasks of survival. Eventually, Americans developed a sense of concern for the appearance of their homes. Standards for domestic cleanliness rose, and the social importance of an attractive home increased considerably as the young nation grew.
Dirt in the home was often ignored. The outside environment was often kept as messily. Homemakers threw bones, broken dishes, human waste and other refuse out the closest window or door, without concern as to where they would land. The exterior of most peoples' homes were faded and dingy, and the brightly painted houses of the wealthy contrasted conspicuously. Only the wealthier Americans began to use wallpaper, originally called paper hangings. Some started to paint their rooms in colors, in contrast to the whitewashing of colonial homes.
Those with at least moderate wealth slept on mattresses stuffed with feathers; while others slept on scratchy, uncomfortable mattresses of straw. A few of the wealthiest had elaborate beds, high off the floor and surrounded by curtains. The bed draperies afforded privacy and warmth, but were expensive and often complicated to make. Many of those who could afford "fully-hung" beds maintained them only for the parents of the house, while the children slept on "low beds."
Dwellings had at least one fireplace, used for warmth and cooking. As wood became more scarce, especially in the North, a few people acquired stoves. These stoves, either old Prussian stoves or the newer American Franklin stoves, used less fuel than fireplaces, and were introduced in workable cookstove models in 1815. It was not until 1820, however, that these stoves became widely popular.