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What is primitive country decor?

By Catalogs Editorial Staff

Primitive county decor is the opposite of contemporary and modern

Primitive county decor is the opposite of contemporary and modern

What does primitive mean? It refers to something characteristic of early ages, old-fashioned, crude, simple or rudimentary. Primitive objects are not fancy.

That helps us understand the concept of primitive country decor. The furniture in a home using this decorating theme is functional, often fulfills multiple purposes. And, of course, it is the exact opposite of ornate.


Utilitarian objects are also part and parcel of this style including buckets, tools and baskets. Woven baskets and hand-carved bowls make carrying items and preparing and serving food easier. These objects are also pleasing to the eye and can be purely decorative if you choose not to put them to work, and let them simply sit on a shelf. This is a simple but beautiful and charming way to decorate, especially when you use decorating accents that suit the season.

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Borrow from the Outdoors

Items from the great outdoors are often incorporated into this type of home including berries, grapevines, pussy willow branches, pine cones, bird’s nests, metal and wood tools, bird houses, stones, twigs and antlers.


Grapevines and berry-filled vines cascading from the mantle or from a stoneware crock look lovely. This is country living at its best, even if you live smack dab in the center of a city. 

Go out into your yard (or to the city park) and pick flowers, branches and twigs. Dry the flowers. Incorporate them into a wreath or flower arrangement, using a crock or old pottery to contain them. Use the branches, too.


Candles are generally displayed in this type of home, sometimes of the home-made variety. They are usually rustic in appearance as opposed to lustrous and shiny. This is not a modern, contemporary look.

Rust is Okay

Rusty buckets, anything rusty, is de rigueur.

Repurpose Items

Utilize canning jars to hold candles, flowers or plants. Toss a homespun throw over the arm of your couch. Get a primitive breadbox and use it. 

Quilts and Rugs

Quilts are not only functional but eye candy. Display your quilts on quilt racks. Walk on braided rugs. 

Your Walls

Are you into needlepoint? Hang your designs on the wall next to pictures of rabbits, sheep and cows.


What colors to use? That’s entirely up to you but many who opt for this style are drawn to hushed and dark shades, such as black, grey and brown, but there is nothing wrong with inserting color. Choose something in a rusty brown red or rich indigo blue. 

Other popular colors include mustard, Lexington green, pumpkin, white, antique white, solider blue, raw sienna, burnt umber, territorial beige and autumn brown.


Use tinware throughout the house, such as a farmhouse lantern made from punched tin or tinware candle holders with crimped tops, pairing them with a candle snuffer. 

A punched tin shade pendant hanging over your sink or kitchen island is going to stop traffic because it is so pretty and unusual.

Attach pierced tin panels to your kitchen cabinets. This will change ordinary cabinets into something extraordinary.

Burlap and Game Boards

Burlap curtains carry on the primitive theme, setting the tone for the entire residences. Even better, add old-fashioned, hand-stenciled game boards to the mix, hanging them from the wall.


Select a wooden chandelier wired with candelabra sockets and hang above your dining room table.

What’s in your Attic?

Remember that steamer trunk in the attic? Get it out and use it. What about that treadle sewing machine belonging to your great-grandmother? Remove the actual sewing machine, add a sheet of glass and use the base, creating a table. 

Odds and Ends

Old jugs sitting by the fireplace and quilts displayed in a distressed, open cabinet are all part of this look. It is very charming and cozy. 

Pottery and crocks, as opposed to fine china, are the typical choice for dishware in this type of home.


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