Comfort and ease evoke the spirit of today’s country look. Americans, spurred on by the nation’s bicentennial 25 years ago, continue to look to a simpler time to reduce stress on their daily lives.
A book, “New Country Style” (Meredith Books, $39.95) by the editors of Country Home magazine, showcases 14 homes with that spirit. From city loft and renovated farmhouse to Southwestern adobe, today’s homes reflect the ingenuity of times past and of being able to mix old and new in today’s fresh approach.
No longer cluttered in its approach, the new look of country allows for airy space to showcase heirlooms. It also encourages the mixing of vintage fabrics, flea market finds, wicker and painted furniture as cottage-style essentials.
How do you put all these items together in your own space? In this case, it really is “all about you.”
If you like several things, they play off your personality and, therefore, probably “go together.” It’s all about mixing items you collected on a recent trip with old family photos. It’s about draping vintage hand towels as cafe curtains.
Or, perhaps it means mixing several styles of chairs but tying them together by similar shades of the same color. In another setting, it may be about pairing 1940s-style barstools with a 19th-century French whitewashed walnut table.
For a truly eclectic mix of favorite pieces from parts of former lives, textures, colors and shapes play off a simple neutral adobe backdrop. In that setting, regional art, religious icons and flea market finds seem to harmonize.
It’s an effortless blend of favorite collections that somehow fit together. These design strategies will help get you started:
• Instead of placing two or three plates on a shelf, fill each shelf with a different set of dishes.
• Anything of beauty is worthy of display, including wardrobe accessories, such as silver and turquoise jewelry on a gold tray.
• Line up cowboy boots in a hallway, not at the back of a closet.
• Use an old dough bough or a punch bowl to put photos or magazines on the floor, even under the coffee table.
• Color can be the great unifier to visually tie items together.
• Don’t be shy about mixing. It’s OK to mix animal prints and gingham, and an old table with a modern lamp.
• Distinctive architectural salvage pieces can act as decorative elements.
• Use framed black-and-white photographs as a sophisticated contrast to the warm tones of leather and leopard skin.
• Mix Grandma’s glassware, silver and china with tag sale finds to set a table or create a display.
• Use mismatched utensils or dishes just for fun.
• Like the idea of a kitchen island, but don’t want to add something permanent? Use an old work table instead as a preparation area.
• Use historic paint colors and milk paints to achieve authenticity, along with reproduction lighting fixtures.
• Rely on painted pieces to warm a room.
• Incorporate floral touches for a fresh look throughout the house.