I first fell in love with the look of exposed brick walls during my Boston years where they are prevalent in many of the older Brownstones, restaurants and shops. These walls convey a feeling of warmth and enveloping comfort. To me, the exposed brick reflected the city's rich history while embracing the youthful flair and artsy style of a modern generation. They were "Hipster" before "Hipster" existed.
The look of exposed brick inside the home is seeing a new popularity. To trace their popularity, one needs to look at the history of American architecture. Brick became a popular building material during the Georgian era (1700s). The Georgian style had a traditional, stately appearance that appealed to many and was tremendously popular in England. Masters of all crafts trained and specialized in this style. It's popularity took off and found its way across the Pond to the New England and the Southern Colonies. Initially, American Georgian homes were built of wood but those with means, who could afford more expensive and luxurious materials were drawn to brick. The Georgian style of architecture led the way to the Federal style and these styles are still found in the historic cities and towns (like Boston, Nantucket and Newport) along the Eastern seaboard.
Though architectural styles have changed, brick remained a popular building material. Because cities like Boston have much of their original architecture intact, interiors with exposed brick walls are prevalent. Brick remains a popular material, less from an architectural viewpoint, and more from the world of interiors. And while there are many "modern" homes with new brick, there's something to be said for the rusticity and the history of the old. I have deep appreciation and fondness for all things old, historic and traditional and combining them with items from a more modern lifestyle. Whether in an historic New England home, a farmhouse kitchen or an urban loft with high ceilings and oversized windows, the look of exposed brick complements a multitude of lifestyles and decorating styles.