Whether you live in the country or not, country style decorating can get you there: you can enjoy a simpler way of life no matter where you live. It’s how you live that counts: this style is warm, charming, inviting, and goes naturally with unpretentious, laid-back lifestyles.
There are a few variants of this decorating style. The one we are most likely to think of first is American country style, but equally popular are English and French, as well as Italian, Spanish, and Scandinavian country style. What all of these styles share are decorating elements such as handmade furnishings and accessories, muted colors, and distinct – preferably hand-woven – fabrics, with patterns such as florals, checks, and stripes.
The roots of country style decorating are – surprisingly – in European courts. Wealthy patrons adapted the styles of the court’s furnishings in their own estates to fit a countryside lifestyle, and a new, both elegant and practical style was born. Modern appreciation of this decorating style began in the 1920s, when collectors realized the decorative value of typical country pieces like baskets or quilts. The market for vintage, handcrafted, country-style furniture and accessories has never been livelier than today.
The American country style is not a unified style of decorating. There is Americana, with its emphasis on comfort, warmth, and lots of decor items. Patriotic elements such as stars and stripes are incorporated into country decor. Colors are white, red and blue.
However, there is also an opposite tendency in American country style decorating, the one with simple, clean lines, evocative of Amish, Shaker, and Arts and Crafts style furnishings. Wood and iron pieces dominate. Colors are dark green, gray, buttermilk, barn-red, rust, and straw. Window treatments are roman shades or half curtains. There is also American Southwest style, influenced by Spanish and Native American cultures.
English country style is characterized by slip-covered pine furniture with carved detailing (such as Chester sofas), traditional oil paintings, floral chintz, faded rugs, plaids, floral china. This decorating style is more formal than American country. French style is similar to English country. It features furniture with curved lines, plaster walls, wrought iron, roughened woods, natural stone, toile fabrics and cafe-style curtains.
Spanish style is characterized by bright colors, plaster or stucco walls, natural wood, hand-painted pottery and tiles, and religious icons functioning as decorating elements. Italian country decor is characterized by warm colors, terracotta, wrought iron, exposed stone and brick, rough plaster walls, uncovered windows, natural woods. Tuscan style is currently the most popular.