Decorating & Design

November 23, 2009

Is Country Back?

As an editor here at House & Home I see pretty much every shelter magazine come across my desk day in and day out. It’s a lot of images to process and file away in my brain but it helps me to spot the many trends going on in design and decorating. 

Lately, there is one trend I cannot ignore. Brace yourselves — it’s the return of COUNTRY.

Photo: Best of Donna Hay magazine - Seasons

I’m seeing tons of country houses amid rolling hills, pastoral scenes with rustic furnishings lugged outside, plaids, ticking stripes, antiques, chipped paint — you name it. The many hallmarks of country design are popping up everywhere. Sometimes the spaces are straight up c-o-u-n-t-r-y. Sometimes there are little hints of it here and there in the styling and layers. Either way, the looks seem fresh and cosy this time around.

Photo: white country house on green rolling hills

I see it as a reaction to the glitz and Hollywood glamour of the past few years, as well as a pragmatic aesthetic to suit our times. The party was killed by an economic meltdown and even the super-rich were feeling the pinch. Country style is cosy, comforting and usually CHEAP!

Photo: Country living room with soothing colour scheme

It’s all about homespun patterns like this wallpaper and fabric combo. Isn’t this room the definition of cocoon? And the muted, vegetable dye-type colour! So soothing.

Photo: Country kitchen with family dining

Don’t you love how this humble kitchen is conspicuously without a mammoth island? In it’s place: a kitchen table for family dining. So real.

Photo: Country living room with wooden beams and simple antique furniture

This living room has an east-coast country vibe with its charming floral fabrics, stripes and lots and lots of white. There are even rustic wooden beams and simple antique furnishings that help to give the room soul. Note the lack of chickens or heart motifs.

Photo: Country loft with schoolhouse lights

Who wouldn’t want to slumber in this dreamy loft bedroom? For once, the designer hasn’t painted everything white! I love the freshness of the melon and teal block print pillows and the homey schoolhouse lights. Can’t you just feel that summer breeze?

Photo: Bathroom featuring a vintage enamel sink with checkerboard tiles

The bathrooms we’ve been seeing lately have been all about marble and polish and grandeur. Not so with this new look — I see checkerboard tiles, a vintage enamel sink, decorative sconces, and an adorable tiny mirror. Totally do-able, don’t you think?

Photo: exposed utilitarian room with country flair

Utilitarian rooms like a butler’s pantry or a potting shed are appreciated for their practical beauty. The business of life isn’t hidden behind perfect built-ins, but rather left exposed with its random, cluttered perfection. And by the way, if that café curtain and stool cushion with ruffles aren’t country, I don’t know what is!

Photo: lunch for two outside

One of my favourite blogs, {frolic!}, led me to these lovely and inspiring lifestyle shots from the blogger’s page. Al fresco dining anyone?

Photo: windowsill with row of potted flowers

Think about it — charming geraniums in a sunny windowsill, beadboard painted the perfect shade of homestead green, cotton curtains held back with ribbon and charming folksy tiles covering a wall — if country is bad, I don’t want to be good!

So what do you think — is country making a comeback? Is it the name we cringe at? Is it too soon? I just read the new House Beautiful last night and they identify it as one of 2010’s big trends. They call its followers “The Ruralists”. And with companies like Pottery Barn making quilts and tastemakers like John Derian being sold at Bergdorf Goodman and around the world, I’d say we’re in for a movement.

I think I’ll tackle this a little more in posts to come (there’s just too much to say!). In the meantime, how do you feel about this homespun, folksy, rustic look?

For more country inspiration, view our Country Decorating gallery.

Photo credits:
1. Donna Hay’s Seasons (2009 Harper Collins Australia)
2. G. P. Schafer Architect, Greek Revival House
3. Bilhuber & Associates
4. G. P. Schafer Architect, Greek Revival House
5. Tom Scheerer, East Hampton Cottage
7., Eddie Ross’s bathroom
8., Deborah Needleman’s gardening sink