old country house blog

What is Country decor?

     What is “Country” Decor? What is Country Living?
     I am going to give you a little History lesson on the evolution of Country Decor, since the mid 1980’s, according to ME!!.
     In the 1980s, when I got my first NYC apartment, Country decor was HOT! Country Living Magazine was the bible for Country decorating and everyone was looking for that homey vintage inspired Country look. You know how you look in magazines now and it is all white walls and zebra and cowhide rugs and Belgian Linen and natural fibers and hip hip HIP! Well, in the 80’s that HIP look was Country. I kid you not. And while, just like puffy hair and big shoulder pads and acid washed jeans, that version of country is dated dated dated…now, at the time it was Chic decor. Little Shumacher prints, quaint wallpaper borders, QUILTS (always “in” in my opinion) , tiny delicate florals, oak furniture and hooked rugs, primitive paintings, folk art, calico fabrics and drapes and tapestry. Just watch an episode of that show where Bob Newhart runs the Country Inn. Madison avenue, believe it or not, was all about Country. quilt stores. Folk art and Laura Ashley English Country was hot, like Tori Burch and Orla Keily are now. Wrap your mind around that! Oak furniture. Oak. Could not get enough of it. It became mass produced and cranked out, but the antique oak was a find and was sold as fine antiques with inflated prices and the right piece could class up your place the way a Jonathan Adler Pillow can now. I am not kidding you! Country was the bomb!

     Here is a fun tid bit. back in the 80’s and maybe the 90’s but I know in the 80’s, you could go to the back of magazines and buy things. I once bought two signed and numbered prints from Country Living Magazine, reproductions of quilt designs for $15.00 each. I wonder where the artist is now.

    In the 90’s, and continuing into the 2000’s, Country and Country style decor, took a turn, and became less folksy and more “Cottage”. Cottage Living. Cottage Home. Cottage House and Garden and everything cottage. Small cozy weathered rooms and pieces. And Romantic Victorian inspired country made a name for itself as well. Country was prettier, became more mature and it lightened up a bit. Quilts remained but were joined by soft linens and laces, and warm colors and pastels like yellows and golds and pinks and greens, and Wedgewood blues. Big cottage Roses and quilts and braided rugs in rich colors. More and more, do it yourself decorators began to bring actual recycled country elements into their decor, old barn wood items, reclaimed beaded board and furniture and frames made from salvaged this and that. Hand painted pottery joined in, Mackenzie Childs and Fioreware and you could even paint your own pottery if so desired. Then, and this changed it all up 200 notches, first Martha Stewart and then Rachel Ashwell stepped in and elevated the look with homespun sensible decor and Shabby Chic with chippy paint and classy whites and boo coos of slipcovers, swedish Inspired Blues and clean lines and cherubs and a marriage of various styles: high end and rustic together in one big happy family.

From Rachel Ashwell’s Website

     Over the decade, Country decor has continued to blossom into yet an even sleeker European inspired look,  while  retaining much of the eclectic cottage appeal of the 90’s. But it is no longer simply a decor but a whole movement, a lifestyle. Cottage Living and Cottage home sadly left with so many other wonderful magazines, but the fresh attitudes remain. We are using the internet in a million and one ways to reach the ends of the earth for ideas. Not just our country but actual other Countries! And, the desire for country, the real country living is bringing chickens onto rooftops and into backyards with the expensive swingsets. Goats and puppies sleep in beds with their masters and miniature donkeys mingle with puggles. Unable to travel as far and as frequently, country weekend homes have replaced distant resorts for many a city dweller, in an effort to get back to the simpler of times. Reduce, reuse and recycle are mantras, not only for the earthy crunchy folk but for the everyone. Country is Green. Country is Gardens and make it yourself. Moms and dads too are baking from scratch and making baby food and cooking from their own gardens, in their very own back yards and community gardens. Budgets are smaller and subsequently imaginations bigger and the decor is reflecting this individuality in as many ways as there are decorators. Country, cottage, coastal, minimal, simple clean lines; decor that is meant to stand the test of time, work for years. A sleek Contemporary home might even sneak in a 100 year old country bench, call it art, and it is, made by artisans in styles that are long since forgotten.

    There you have it. My history of Country.

1 thought on “What is Country decor?

  1. I came here when I searched for 80’s Country Decorating. I have a theory that in 5-7 years a lot of that look will be back in the way shag carpet is 😉 So I’m going back to my roots. I enjoyed reading this – am off to an auction on Sunday and guess what they’ve got a boatload of? Country furniture.

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