Today I’m starting a series all about style – defining it, finding yours, expressing it. Just because I’ll be sharing tons of information and photos trying to illustrate the various styles of home decor, don’t feel like you have to put a label on your style. You don’t. But sometimes it helps to define your preferences and narrow your focus by applying a label. The reality is most of us are a blend of styles – let’s see if we can figure out where you fit in the style spectrum.
Cottage or Country Basics
When I think of country (sometimes called cottage) decor, some of the defining elements that come to mind are:
- plaid, checks & stripes
- busy with patterns and accessories
- rag rugs
- rooster or pig or cow collections
- furniture with turned legs
- cozy, not cavernous spaces
- color palettes for country spaces generally revolve around warm colors like reds to rusts, yellows and golds
This cozy room reflects a few country elements like the gathered skirt on the ottoman, the check pattern on the skirt, a textured area rug, rich gold walls and wood floors. The look is updated a little with the addition of a graceful chandelier, a leather chair, the ornate mirror over the fireplace and the toile accent chair.
Tailored slipcovers in a perfect stripe, a unique chandelier, the wood chest and accessories, the wood molding and paint color all conspire to give this room a gentler country vibe.
This inviting room has the warmth of a great country room complete with a rich mix of colors, patterns and homey touches. Florals combined with oversize checks are a winning combination and when mixed with the quilt pattern, it becomes very welcoming. Notice all the shades of red throughout the room and how effectively it’s been paired with greens. Another common element in country/cottage homes is a hutch displaying a collection of dishes.
This very feminine room epitomizes the feeling of a country/cottage bedroom. Big checks on the wall brighten and set the tone for a casual mix of patterns and colors. Wood floors, soft colors (including reds), a wallpaper border and even the lattice trim on the bed canopy contribute to the overall feel of the room.
Notice the turned legs on the coffee table (plus the beadboard look), the great blending of plaid and floral and how it all picks up the colors from the gardeny painting. The distressed white iron work pieces add touches of lightness and texture to the walls instead of more art. You can see the edges of the round red table peeking at the edge of photo. The reason this floral and plaid pattern combo work is that they share a color palette and the scale of the plaid is much larger than the check sofa (which almost reads as a solid) and the floral is large and surrounded by lots of white to set it apart from the plaid.
Blue and yellow are a timeless color combination and here they blend with a gentle nod to country style. Plaid on the ottoman works beautifully with the larger scale stripe on the chair and both of them with the blue and yellow floral at the windows. I don’t know if any of these fabrics are denim, but wouldn’t denims be great in this family room? Sturdy and wearable but stylish too.
Blue shows up again as a country palette. Notice the molding on the lower half of the walls (a great country detail when painted like this), the warm brass chandelier, the patterned rug and the chair seats that have a floral coordinating with the plaid backs. Country all the way.
This photo represents a whole different type of country living. The addition of vintage pieces and old, distressed chairs and chests really makes the room feel like something from an old farmhouse. Is this your idea of country decor?
As I mentioned in a recent post about creating an entry, the entry is a great introduction to your home and should reflect your personality. A well designed entry is welcoming, sets the tone for the rest of the home and declares your style. This entry definitely says welcome and says it with country flair.
A few characteristics that define shabby chic include:
- collectibles like crockery, plates, tin
- slipcovered furniture (though this is also present in other styles)
- mixed patterns, usually including florals
- use of table cloths, table skirts, trims and ruffles
- curved organic shapes in furniture
- painted wood furniture
- distressed finishes
- artwork and accessories that include things like dried flower arrangements, gardeny scenes, fiestaware
- color palettes that embrace soft, pastel colors; muted colors like sage and rose rather than lime green and fuchsia
This charming bedroom illustrates many facets of shabby chic decor like painted furniture, distressed finishes, curvy lines in the headboard, soft floral prints, glass lamps and a delicious sherbet-like color palette.
Crisp white linens, sparkling glass candlesticks, a floral pitcher as a vase and a china hutch filled with pretty glassware all illustrate a shabby chic sensibility.
The epitome of cottage or shabby chic style: lovely florals, soft drapey window treatments, plates on the wall, soft wall colors but accents with bolder tones and a charming painted table.
Toile is a pattern often used in shabby chic rooms and here you see it in red paired with a large buffalo check tablecloth as well as a toss pillow on the chair. Isn’t this an inviting patio?
A bedroom in soft colors, a mix of patterns, wood and painted wood, curves and florals is a good example of shabby chic style.
Style is a very personal choice and is often not limited to a narrow label like shabby chic or mission, etc. Over the next weeks I’ll be presenting the defining elements for a variety of styles and by the end we should each be able to more exactly determine our style preferences. Did today’s styles resonate with you? Are you a little bit country? If not, watch for this series to continue every Monday til we run out of styles to explore – I’m sure to touch on a style that speaks to you. If you want me to address a particular look/style, leave me a comment and I’ll be sure to address it!