Country farmhouse decor

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Pay attention to details to create a country farmhouse décor
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You can have authentic country farmhouse décor no matter where you live

When I lived in Pennsylvania, I owned a 223 year old farmhouse. At first, I toyed with the idea of gutting the interior and going for the old-on-the-outside-modern-on-the-inside look so popular in the glossy architecture magazines. But in the end I went with a traditional country farmhouse décor...primitives,  homespun fabrics, and lots of handcrafted antiques.

And much to my surprise, this South Florida girl loved it all. Country antiques, traditional colonial colors, quilts and country curtains came together to create a warm and welcoming home. Ready for a country home of your own?  The good news is you don't have to move to rural Pennsylvania to create a country farmhouse décor.  Here are some tips to help you create your very own country home, even if you live in the middle of the city.

Learn about paint

A lot of country farmhouse décor comes down to paint.  Painted furniture, painted woodwork, painted accessories and accents. Read about the colors popular in colonial or Civil War days, and select your palette from the rich golds, gray-blues, wines and greens so popular in the 1700's and 1800's.

Paint, especially colors rich in pigment, were expensive, and were considered a sign of wealth. Be daring with your color choices. The beautiful hues so favored by our ancestors will give your country home décor a warmth today's beiges, creams and pastels just can't match.

While latex will work for walls, for a more authentic look and more intense color, opt for oil-based paints for walls and woodwork. Milk paint, especially powdered milk paint you mix yourself, is perfect for furniture and accessories.

If it's old (or you wish it was) make sure it looks that way

One of the most comforting aspects of country farmhouse décor is its well-used look and feel. Imagine not worrying about getting a scratch on the coffee table or whether the kids make a tent out of the bed quilts. Country décor is all about history...the more scratches, dings, dents or worn paint, the more comfortable it looks and feels.

When buying furniture for your country-style home, look for antiques or replicas that show signs of wear and age. Resist the temptation to refinish antiques to make them “like-new” or to remove the signs of wear.  

Learn the techniques of aging furniture, accessories and textiles

Even new furniture and other country farmhouse décor can take on the patina of age with a few tricks of the trade.

Fabric - Instantly age new textiles like napkins, pillow covers or table runners by giving them a bath in strong tea. Fill a sink with warm water, add a dozen tea bags and put your new textiles in to soak.  Check frequently until you've reached the shade you want, then rinse well and hang to dry.

Furniture and accessories – Gather some basic tools, including:

  • Fine and medium sandpaper
  • Brown paste shoe polish
  • Nails
  • Rough stones or a brick
  • Rags

Look at the object, and try to imagine where it would have been touched, bumped, pushed or rubbed over the decades or centuries. Use the sandpaper, stones, nails or brick to rub paint away, or to create grooves or scratches wherever an genuinely old object would be worn. Once you have the areas “aged”, rub them with some shoe polish, using a soft rag.  Be careful not to overdo it...you can always add more. Rub it on, then rub most of it off, to create a deep patina of age and wear.

Sources for country accessories

Flea markets, estate sales, tag sales and thrift store are great sources for county farmhouse décor shopping. Look for old milk bottle, tin buckets, kitchen tools, wooden signs and country-style textiles. Thrift stores and tag sales also a great resource for furniture to paint and age...mismatched chairs, dressers with interesting detailing and paintable cabinets are easy to find  and usually very inexpensive.

Other country farmhouse décor essentials

Complete your look with:

  • Braided rugs
  • Embroidered pillow cases
  • Country-style lamps and ceiling fixtures
  • Candle sticks and country-scented candles
  • Handcrafted dishes and serving pieces
  • Old teddy bears, dolls, metal banks and other toys

In the end, I sold the farmhouse and moved back to Florida....but many of my antiques came with me. A country décor in the city?  You bet! Now it's your turn!

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