Country Home Furnishings

For many city dwellers, country home furnishings are a way to escape the hectic urban lifestyle for the peaceful tranquility of rural living. When it's impossible to leave the corporate rat race behind, an urban apartment or city house decorated in rustic home furnishings can be a relaxing place to unwind after a stressful day at the office. For those living on country farms or in mountain cabins, the rustic decorating style is a natural choice that showcases the tradition of a farming heritage. And for those who live in-between, the suburbanites, upscale country home furnishings can provide a comfortable gathering place for family and friends to enjoy each other's company, or to relax after a long commute.

Country decorating utilizes natural materials as much as possible and decorative items that look handmade even when they aren't. Wooden floors may be polished to a sheen, yet have characteristic pitmarks from decades of being walked on. Braided rugs are scattered about, providing texture and warmth. The walls may be painted in neutral shades or earth tones, or perhaps papered in small floral patterns or bold country motifs. Popular designs incorporate such elements as apples, floral wreaths, roosters, birdhouses, hearts, and Americana folk art for borders or to be used either above or below chair railing or crown molding. Wide borders with bold patterns complement smaller matching designs, checks, stripes, or plaids that can be used for larger wall areas. A bear or moose motif may be used with more rustic home furnishings to create a log cabin ambience or to bring the feel of wilderness living into the dwelling. Chandeliers that look like wagon wheels or that are made from antlers, whether authentic fixtures or reproductions, are common lighting elements for rustic decorating.

A dark brown leather sofa fits perfectly in a country theme, especially when teamed up with either complementary or contrasting upholstered chairs. Comfort is a primary factor when it comes to selecting seating for the rustic dwelling. Throw pillows and curtains can be made from the same fabric to add a unified look to the room, though window shutters are an innovative alternative to traditional drapes when it comes to window treatments. A stack of folded quilts, perhaps piled in an open trunk or a large basket, invites family and friends to wrap themselves up on chilly evenings while watching television or reading a good book. Or handmade afghans can be draped over the back of the sofa and chairs. Such simple decorating elements provide a hospitable feel to a family room. Other furniture, such as tables, bookshelves, and an entertainment unit may be weathered or painted pine or perhaps crafted from aspen logs. Some pieces may be lightly painted in neutral colors or blues or greens. A red-barn color palette is also popular for country home furnishings. Coarse and unfinished pieces are perfect choices for this decorating style.

Other natural materials that can worked into the overall design are stones, perhaps for a fireplace, flagstones for an entry way, and such items as evergreen branches and pinecones. The evergreen is especially popular for Christmas decorating, though pinecones are interesting accents for rustic home furnishings at anytime of the year. The outdoors can be brought into the house by potting native plants in stoneware or earthenware crockery, pottery, or terra cotta containers. Another idea for bringing elements of nature into the house is to arrange a small collection of bird houses on a plant shelf or countertop. Other collectibles can also be displayed, perhaps rag dolls or stuffed teddy bears. Baskets, in a variety of shapes and sizes, are also an integral element of country decorating whether handmade or mass-produced. To add additional interest, baskets can be lined with calico prints or trimmed in lace, filled with balls of yarn and embroidery projects, or hold freshly baked cookies for mid-afternoon snacking.

When Solomon, the wise king of the Old Testament, built the Temple of God, he used many precious stones and much fine gold. But he also used natural materials. "Now these are the things wherein Solomon was instructed for the building of the house of God. . . . . And the greater house he cieled [paneled] with fir tree, which he overlaid with fine gold, and set thereon palm trees and chains. And he garnished the house with precious stones for beauty: and the gold was gold of Parvaim" (2 Chronicles 3:3, 5-6). The Temple of God was uniquely designed and magnificently furnished. The royal style will never be confused with rural elements. But the design incorporated motifs and themes that were significant to the Israelites. This significance can be incorporated into country home furnishings by using items that invoke memories and traditions. Family photographs, treasured heirlooms, and cherished mementos can be artfully and tastefully displayed to invoke tradition and heritage. Needlework created by beloved family members can be transformed into creative wall hangings. Even a quilt, if properly handled, can be displayed as a work of art. Many people make a hobby of finding unique items to add to their rustic home furnishings by visiting flea markets, antique stores, online auction sites, or thrift shops. Yard sales (known as tag sales in some parts of the country) are a great source for finding that perfect piece at a discounted price. For lots of people, the hunt is as much fun as acquiring something new.

No matter where a person lives, in an urban high-rise, a suburban ranch house, a rural farmhouse, or a wilderness log cabin, country decorating can create a relaxing and comfortable environment for family and friends. Natural materials, treasured heirlooms, and unique collectibles add to the rooted ambience of both country and rustic home furnishings.

Cottage Furniture

Cottage furniture used in the right setting can create an atmosphere of cozy warmth, the perfect environment for retreating after a long day or week of business stresses. Whether the cottage decor look is for a weekend cabin or for the home that gets lived in twenty-four-seven, those who seek to dwell in these types of simplistic surroundings will find they have a place to truly relax and let their hair down. And, cozy doesn't necessarily mean wedgewood blue littered with geese wearing bows, anymore. Country furniture has come a long way in fashion and class, and today's styles actually offer quite a bit of diversity, allowing families and individuals to express their unique personalities. Though sophisticated traditional will always be in vogue, many are downplaying the formal atmosphere in exchange for a family friendlier environment that welcomes family members into a sanctuary at night and guest into a mind set of sitting and staying awhile. The culture has had a value change, and now home is truly where the heart is.

When looking for pieces to fill a room that expresses the ultimate cozy style, there is really one rule that stands above the rest. Comfort is what cottage furniture is all about. Comfort beckons someone to sit, chat, and take a load off, and invites visitors to enjoy the view or enjoy a leafing through a magazine. Comfort welcomes owners home to retreat from the busy and sometimes cruel world outside. Comfortable is not necessarily defined as any particular style or color or cushion thickness. It is the total attitude that is expressed through country furniture, wall colors, furniture placement, and accessories. Comfort is an emotional feeling as well as it is a physical luxury.

So, with the idea that a room needs to be created around a comfortable feeling, one can begin with choosing colors. While beauty is in the eye of the beholder, there are some colors that will set a mind at ease better than others. Warm reds and yellows immediately create a since of welcome. Mint greens and sages are great for relaxing and refreshing. Earth tones and black and whites are no-nonsense selections that get dwellers back to the basics of life. There is a large spectrum of colors to choose from when looking for wall color and upholstery fabrics used in cottage furniture, and the only warning is to stay away from slick or vibrant shades that might remind one of the office or of a retail store. It's down time, so colors need to reflect this mood!

Of course, harmony is important, and choosing color, harmony can be accomplished through shades, keeping the same shade intensity throughout the room. One dominant color is all that should be displayed, with secondary colors used to compliment the star color. The perfect cozy look is to paint a piece of country furniture a complimentary color and distress it, making it look as if it's been enjoyed in that very room for years. But, be careful when adding different colors to one room. Tons of color is great in some situations, but when looking to relax, dwellers will not want to be over-stimulated. If one is a color lover, then opt for using different color themes in each room, but painting colors of the same shade intensity throughout the house.

Mix and match is the perfect strategy for cottage living. Though there is a strategy, the decor needs to look like there was no strategic plan. That is the beauty of a comfortable look; not perfect or fussed over. Picking out pieces that blend with each other is favorable to complete suits or matching patterns. Mixing wood finishes with country furniture is a great way to create the look of heritage, as if pieces were passed down through the generations. And every room will need a piece of cottage furniture that is upholstered. Over-stuffed sofas and chairs loaded with pillows are invitations to take shoes off and sit a spell. Watch to keep furniture in the same size scale, this will also bring harmony to the eye and spirit.

Thankfully, family values are back in style and when looking for cottage furniture to reflect this value, keep in mind antique stores, garage sales, and junk yards. Chairs, tables, and occasional pieces don't have to cost a lot of money, and actually shouldn't. Stress can come from overspending, so when creating a comfortable environment, the owner will need to be able to enjoy the room from every aspect, even the financial one. Welcoming people into a home and practicing hospitality is Biblical. The Bibles teaches that we are to feed one another and enjoy each other's fellowship in Christian love. People need people and in today's busy and changing culture, gatherings of close friends and families are important. Creating a home that invites visitors to share on intimate levels is demonstrating Christ's nature. Heart is at the root of a cozy home atmosphere and country furniture selections will help create that environment.

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