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While country is a broad style that varies based on geographic locations it includes aged furniture pieces, vintage fabrics and homey accessories. Casual and cozy best describe this decorating style whether you’re referring to a historic villa in Italy, a farmhouse in the south of France or a ranch in Texas.
Whether your house is old or new you can transform it into a warm and comforting country sanctuary away from the stresses of daily life. No matter which version of country style you choose--simplicity is the key.
Country style is often mistaken for nostalgic memories of lacy curtains, oak furniture, blue and white gingham and an abundance of apples and geese. Contemporary country banishes those mental images with clean lines and a neutral color scheme. Mix weathered woods, painted surfaces and metals to create a space that embraces current trends while acknowledging the past.
Shaker style furniture and simple upholstered pieces play to the contemporary vibe while preserving its country feel. Keep accessories to a minimum. Authentic earthen creamware and white ironstone pieces play nicely with modern dinnerware. Add a few storage baskets and a natural sisal area rug to complete the look.
Early American country style harkens back to the beginnings of the republic. It draws from the agrarian way of life, natural resources and handmade furniture and textiles of the time. Early colonists brought furnishings from England, which also influenced the design aesthetic of early American country style.
Brighten a room by replicating a historic colonial color palette consisting of saturated hues such as barn red, deep green, Wedgwood blue, gray, rust and straw yellow set against neutral walls. Anchor a seating area or dining room with a painted canvas floorcloth or braided cloth rug.
Fill your home with period furniture such as Queen Anne, Chippendale, Windsor or Hepplewhite. If you can’t afford real antiques there are plenty of less expensive reproductions available. Embellish soft goods with period cross-stitch and crewelwork designs. Colonial quilts make colorful wall hangings for this authentic country decorating style.
Conjure up a thatched Cotswold cottage which is the essence of English country style. The look and attitude is a deliberate combination of British antique furniture pieces, handpicked accessories and botanical colors. Current trends need not apply here. Patina, worn Persian rugs and faded florals are the basis for this particular country style.
To create the proper mood paint the walls in a creamy magnolia white. Wainscoting is a touch that also lends credibility to the English country illusion. If neutral paint is not your cup of tea consider a subtle cabbage rose floral or delicately striped wallpaper in deep mauve, green, yellow and periwinkle blue--hues which are reminiscent of an English country garden.
Overstuffed upholstered furniture looks lovely in formal chintz or more relaxed in rumpled linen slipcovers. Other appropriate fabrics include tweed, cashmere, chenille and cotton. Incorporate patterned florals, paisleys, damasks and ginghams. Window treatments often consist of decorative lace or lined curtain panels to keep the chill out.
Vintage estate sale finds work brilliantly with family heirlooms. Show off those cherished collectibles in edited collections on trays, tables, hutches and bookcases throughout the house. Oil paintings of still life and scenes of the English countryside are the obvious choice to adorn the walls.
The origin of farmhouse country springs from pre-20th century rural life that includes beadboard paneling, clapboard siding, wrap-around porches and white picket fences. The floorplan of original farmhouses consisted of communal rooms in the front with the kitchen and bedrooms housed in the back or upstairs.
Today’s farmhouse design aesthetic is as much a way of life as it is a decorating style. It thrives on simplicity and DIY spirit. Flea markets, tag sales and thrift store finds play right into the upcycling and renovation component of this humble design approach.
Farmhouse country is versatile making it easy to incorporate bits from other styles. Worn finishes and quilts add a rustic twist. Throw in a crystal chandelier for a dose of whimsy. Metal and wood furniture pieces can take things in a decidedly industrial direction.
Intersperse white painted furniture with aged wood finishes and calming neutrals into the overall design. Use light blues, greens and buttery yellows for subtle contrast. Open shelving, butcherblock countertops and an apron sink create the heart of the classic farmhouse home. Don’t forget an oversized table and ladderback chairs to host harvest dinners.
Romance is the key ingredient in French country style. Bright white or color-washed walls in subtle hues, such as swiss cream, pale blue or buttery yellow contrast against a rough pine floor to create the ideal backdrop for delicate unbleached muslin curtain panels and crumpled soft gray velvet upholstery. Curvaceous bergère chairs and carved armoires in white wash or natural pine further underscore the French country look.
Another way to inject the spirit of French country into your home is to make use of festive Provençal textiles. Although the fabrics known as “les indiennes” originated in India, these vibrant cotton table linens adorned with olive branches, sunflowers and lemons have become synonymous with the countryside in the south of France.
Typical of French country, other local textiles are fashioned into bed linens, decorative pillows and throws. Quilted coverlets in saturated red, yellow or blue floral toile de jouy, buffalo check bedskirts and rooster throw pillows reinforce the theme of French pastoral life. Whether you choose subtle French country or its sunny Mediterranean adaptation you’ll revel in pure joie de vivre.
Scandinavian country style borrows from Sweden, Denmark, Finland and Norway. Recognized for understated design the use of subtle color and painted decorative detail is a celebration of the unspoiled and hospitable land of its origin.
Winters in Scandinavian countries are long and cold, which is why Scandinavian country design capitalizes on light color and finishes. In fact most of the wood furniture is left in its natural state or painted white. In a nutshell Scandinavian country style consists of muted pastel colors, tons of white and cream, painted furniture, clean design and simple lighting.
The style might be considered rather austere when compared with other country styles. While it's style is not highly ornamental it features slender, leggy furniture and large mirrors to reflect light around the space. Bleached floorboards, wall stenciling and hand painted decoration are used extensively. Short of the occasional delicate floral print gingham is the most popular pattern seen in textiles and upholstery. Natural fabrics such as raw silk, linen and cotton are favored upholstery materials.
Tuscan country style is a passionate mixture of texture and color. Etruscan character is rustic and imbued with tactile surfaces and natural elements. Rough plastered walls washed in sun-drenched hues and rugged flooring of stone, terracotta or wood planks take their cues from the warm and sunny Mediterranean climate.
If you are trying to recreate this look in your home you’ll be pleased to find a wide selection of paint colors and techniques that mimic the weathered walls of a rustic villa. Keep furnishings and accessories to a minimum. Tuscan country is a very prudent style. Rooms are fairly sparse and limited to essential furniture pieces.
Furnish a Tuscan country dining room with an antique trestle table, a mix of wood and rush chairs along with a weathered storage hutch. Simple accessories like pastoral artwork, Italian pottery, olive baskets and candles add authentic flavor to Tuscan country rooms.
© 2019 Linda Chechar
Linda Chechar (author) from Arizona on March 30, 2019:
Kathryn, glad you enjoyed the various country styles and the images!
Kathryn from Windsor, Connecticut on March 29, 2019:
I have never really thought about the different country styles. Thanks for the education, and great job picking out such beautiful photos.
Linda Chechar (author) from Arizona on March 29, 2019:
Liz, there are a few similar elements that flow through these country styles but each one has their own distinctive style. Just like the floral fabrics that create the iconic English country decor.
Liz Westwood from UK on March 29, 2019:
This gives a really interesting comparison of country styles. I would definitely associate floral with English country style.
Linda Chechar (author) from Arizona on March 29, 2019:
RTalloni, I agree. I'd love to completely convert my home into Scandi country style.
Ro Alberts from New York City on March 29, 2019:
French Country is my fave by far! Thanks for the great article. I enjoyed reading it.
RTalloni on March 28, 2019:
Enjoyed this overview of these country styles. It's difficult to pick a favorite but in the end the Scandinavian country style really is my choice. The simplicity lets a person breathe, the light colors lift spirits throughout the year, brightening in winter while cooling in summer, and the style is gorgeous with seasonal holiday decorations.