Country Style Defined
Find out how to decorate, country-style.
Country style has existed for centuries in one form or another—styles such as French Country, English Country, and Tuscan all arose as a natural result of rural life in their respective areas. American Country, though, has a more recent provenance. Unpretentious and homey, it harks back to the early days of the United States, drawn from farming traditions, indigenous materials, and an emphasis on handmade furnishings and textiles. (See 100s of country-style rooms here.)
When people hear the term "country style," they often dismiss it as dated, picturing lacy curtains, chunky oak furniture, and overly sweet motifs. The trick is to preserve the elements that made that style popular in the 1980s and early '90s—a sense of welcome, a relaxed air, and a collected approach—while combining them with today's cleaner, less overwrought aesthetic.
These designer rooms display country style:
Get the Look
Soft, cheerful colors. Shocking brights and drab neutrals feel out of place in country-style rooms. Instead, choose gentler hues that feel cozy and upbeat: barn red, straw yellow, sage green, dusky periwinkle. Avoid outdated combinations such as mauve and Wedgwood blue, and lighten up the look with plenty of white, cream, and ivory—always classic and crisp.
Handwoven and handmade textiles. Quilts, rag rugs, and other handcrafted textiles have always been integral to country style. Modernize the look by sticking to fresh color schemes and graphic patterns. A traditional patchwork quilt can make a striking addition to a very clean, simple country space; just be sure it doesn't feel overly busy.
Distressed finishes. Country style whispers of years of wear and use. Blend lightly blemished woods, painted surfaces, and metals to lend an air of history and antiquity.
Classic, comfortable furnishings. By and large, furnishings in country style have familiar profiles and comfy silhouettes: Windsor and ladderback chairs, slipcovered loveseats and settees, iron and spooled-wood bedsteads. The pieces you choose should feel warm and welcoming, as though guests can sink in and put up their feet.
Simple accents. Keep accessories uncomplicated and unfussy. Pottery, creamware, ironstone and other dishware feel on point, as do graphic baskets (not too many) and seagrass or sisal rugs. Other good bets include wildflowers massed in a pitcher, a work of folk art hanging on the wall, and an antiqued mirror or two.
If you like country style, you may like cottage style. Click to explore!