Monday, June 1, 2009
Farm house Decorating Using What You Have
Picture yourself going down a rural road out in farm country, in the Midwest, the hillside dotted with homes from times gone by, perhaps where your great grandparents once lived. Think of cows out in the field, laundry airing on the clothes line out back next to the garden where they grow all the vegetables that grace their table. As you turn into the drive, it is a dirt path, rather than paved and the chickens scurry across the drive as you approach.
On the front porch is a swing and a table where you can place a pitcher of lemonade, with a couple of rocking chairs and perhaps an old bench, where you can relax and enjoy the sunrises or the sunsets.
Like the homes of old, we will use old weathered antique furniture and accessories to give this house that long lived in look and feel .
Enter the front door of this home and you are brought into the foyer. The first thing you will notice that all the floors are old fashioned wide wood planking, some are darker shades of brown that the others, giving it that feeling of age old worn warmth. I have chosen an old low bench, weathered with age to sit under the windows. The walls are done in bead board with wainscoting and a soft mellow shade of tan above and I am going to use the same soft tan throughout the entire lower level of the house. . In the corner by the front door is a small old table, with a vase filled with fresh flowers and an old wicker basket where one can drop the mail or their keys.
In today’s present economy and the fact that we are lucky enough to be looking at a new home, I am going to do the decorating of our home using what we have on hand and finding new uses for our things inside our new home rather than going out and purchasing a bunch of new items.
In a farm house, everything is about casual, mismatched things from generations gone by, so don’t worry about dings and dents in your wooden tables , chairs and benches, that adds character to them and gives them that old worn loved look.
Lets start out in the living room. Lets pretend that our chairs are the big massive chairs that you can sink down into and the kind that the kids like to throw their legs over the arm of and sprawl sideways in. They are a brown tweedy fabric and the sofa is a 1950’s high back sofa with a brown, orange, yellow and black plaid material and you are thinking there is just no way I want to put this into my new house! So why not use the unifying trick of slipcovers for both the sofa and the chairs? Put the sofa in a chocolate brown duck fabric, or perhaps in a natural linen color. Pick some covers for the chairs that might have either floral or stripes with some of the brown or natural linen color in it but with the predominant colors of rose, pinks, greens or yellows in it? Use throw pillows on the sofa in those colors to carry your eye across the room to the sofa. Take a nice throw in one of the accent colors and drape it over the edge of the back and arm of the sofa for that homey feeling.
Use the colors you have chosen in an area rug and also in some accessories in your room, such as in candles, bowls, watering can with flowers in it, pictures and/or picture frames.
Your tables and end table don’t need to be matching in design, in fact it’s better if they don’t. Use an old steamer trunk (chipped paint or missing straps included) and place a large wooden serving tray on top to hold beverages and sandwich plates when you are entertaining in there. That will give you a nice flat surface if the top is slightly dented.
Pick some good substantial weight lamps, with either ceramic, wood, metal, or glass bases. You want them pretty large to carry off the weight of the furniture in the room
Bookcases or hutches, you can include knick-knacks, trinkets, candles of various sizes on interesting pedestals, unusual items scattered in the shelves along with your books. Don’t be afraid to lay some of the books flat rather than upright and stack other items on top for visual interest.
Art work can be beautiful country landscapes, florals, all set in plain wooden frames, or old wooden plaques with cute sayings on them, to black silhouette cutouts of your family set in wooden frames, or maybe shadowboxes with old family heirlooms inside.
In the family room, perhaps use the love seat (that goes with the sofa that is in the living room) in here, along with various styles of comfortable chairs and an old rocking chair. Go with slipcovers again, but in different colors that in the living room but ones that will compliment the colors in the living room. Make them more bold and casual than those in the living room. Perhaps the love seat done in a solid and the chairs in a bold big plaid!
Hit the flea markets or used furniture stores and grab some mismatched bar stools to put at the breakfast bar, if you presently don’t own any.
Tuck the television and all your electronic recording equipment (DVD/VCR) inside an old armoire and use mismatched tables and coffee table in here for a casual atmosphere. This is the room that your family will probably use the most to relax in so you might also like to add some large comfy floor pillows for the kids to lay on. Don’t forget some lamps to go on the end tables and maybe a floor lamp to go by the rocking chair.
Have fun with your kitchen and give it a real country theme by using things like Chickens, roosters or perhaps cows or maybe some old antique items on shelves like an old coffee grinder, a wire basket filled with fake eggs, old time canisters to store items in. Maybe a hanging pot rack where you could hang all your cast iron skillets. An old stone crock to hold items like your whisk, an old egg beater, spatulas, etc.
A farm style sink is nestled beneath the windows and the countertops are all done in granite with shades of brown and golden yellows. Some of your top cupboards, either leave the doors totally off and just have shelves for items or if dust is a factor where you live (as it is here in Oklahoma) you might want to make the doors with glass fronts instead. An old pie safe in the corner, not only for whimsy but to also store items in, would be a fun touch to have.
In the dining room think about using an unusual cabinet as the sideboard to store table linens and your good china and silverware. Perhaps there is an old chest of drawers from a bedroom that you could use here. The top can be decorated with candles, a bowl of artificial or fresh flowers and photographs. For fun, you might take an old wagon wheel and have it wired as a chandelier and use small shades on the lights.
As you climb the U shaped staircase, silhouette pictures of the family and ancestors on the wall give you a sense of time gone by.
For boys, many like patriotic themes for their bedrooms, done in red, white and blue and large stars of wood or tin on their walls. Perhaps add pictures depicting the history of the United States and even copies of the Constitution or the Bill of Rights in old style wooden frames. Younger boys might enjoy a cowboy themed bedroom where their room is done in shades of brown and beige, cowboy hats and lariats hung on the wall, perhaps pictures of the old west or maybe a portrait of the family all dressed up in old-fashioned western clothing and done in sepia and set in a wooden frame. It might be fun to do an accent wall of blue and white stripes (done by taping off sections with painter‘s tape and then painting in the stripes) for the patriotic room or a brown glazed wall in a cowboy room (where the wall looks like leather). White shutters adorn the windows rather than curtains. In the winter, an area rug picking up the accent colors used in the room, but in the summer, he prefers to have just the plain wood planked floor.
When it comes to a girl’s bedroom, think of homemade quilts and thick plump comforters .with lots and lots of decorative pillows tossed upon the bed in various sizes and in florals, plaids and stripes , of complementary colors and trimmed in eyelets and laces.
Girls usually like their rooms done in shades of pink, rose, lavender, or purple all of which can have lime green or light spring green used as a coordinating color. I have chosen a to do this room totally in white and use color as accents only. So her walls will be stark white above the white beadboard and wainscoting and the color will be used in all the accessories for the room.
Frilly, laces, very feminine where they feel like a princess is usually the desires of a little girl. Many younger girls like butterflies and mystical fairies , while older girls just like all types of floral prints. Little girls might enjoy having their name spelled out in large block wooden letters and attached to the wall, hung from pretty ribbons, whereas a teen daughter might just like to have her first initial, done if a fancy script, propped up on a bookcase or on her desk. Next to the bed will be her night stand, draped in the same floral print as the pillows on the bed. An old fashioned small milk glass lamp on top. The curtains will be soft white panels that puddle on the floor and are caught back with ribbon ties and large butterflies for a little girl and perhaps oversized flowers for the teen.
For the parents and the master bedroom, the décor should be all about being restful, peaceful a place where they can come an relax from the stresses of the day. Many men don’t like their bedroom to be too feminine so lots of florals and laces on comforters and pillows will give way to luxurious fabrics and corded edged pillows in colors that are not too feminine. You many need to consider something in a brocade type spread and corded edged decorative pillows done in burgundy and gold, or maybe you can get away with a oversized handmade quilt/comforter that will even cover the regular bed pillows and then use some solid colored pillows as accent pillows.
On bedside tables, be sure to place some lamps and you could use brass, white hobnail milk glass, or wooden based. Most decorators will say no TV in the bedroom but we all know that many people enjoy watching late night television from their bed with the remote in hand, or listening to music on the radio. Rather than having the one-eyed monster staring at you all the time, I would take an old armoire and place all electronic equipment inside. That way the doors can be shut and out of view when not in use.
Draperies could be done in the same brocade fabric as the bedspread, or if you are using an old fashioned quilt, pick up one of the predominant colors in the quilt.
You might want to try painting some of your wooden furniture white and then distressing it by rubbing off some of the paint so it has that old worn look, or you might want to do black instead of white. You can also redo brown woods giving it a gracefully aged look by applying shoe polish wax to the top and sides and then taking some of it off with an old rag.
As far as bathrooms go, I would have them also done with beadboard and wainscoting , perhaps either just plain white above or a soft mint green or palest of blue. Bath towels, thick and luxurious all white. If you wish, use some shades of green or blue towels when you have houseguests. The nice thing about white towels is they bleach out nicely as they age and not difficult to try and match as colored towels are when they wear out.
Be sure to plant an herb garden out back close to the back door so you can go out and grab a handful for cooking. Further out in the backyard you will want to plant a family vegetable garden and then perhaps have you some hens to get rid of the bugs and to furnish you with fresh eggs. Of course if you are in the city limits you will have to forego the chickens!
Remember that this property should be casual, with lots of wandering paths and curved casual flower beds filled with old fashioned types of flowers and wildflowers. Be sure to include benches or old wooden chairs in your garden where one can sit and relax. Often you will find water features that look like an old pump dripping water into an old oaken bucket or a pond with the sounds of flowing water. An arbor covered with grapevines or night blooming jasmine and even a tire swing roped to a low branch of a sturdy old tree.
The front yard should be as casual as the back and don’t forget the old fashioned rose bushes, lilac bushes and the peonies!
Are you ready to move now?
Resources for slipcovers: