What Is Country Style To You?

September 16, 2009

I wrote a little introduction today over at Real Simple to an online shop called Patchwork Harmony (based in England) where they stock things that are very typical “English” country style. And after writing the post I sat here with my green tea staring into space thinking, “well wait… how does English country style differ from say, American country style”.

What Is Country Style To You?

And then I thought of Swedish country style, and German, and French and Irish and it suddenly made me realize just how many country styles there are out there that are really country-specific and so if you say on a blog that has international readers that you like country style, they may interpret it to mean the style they are accustomed to associating country style with in their land. I also thought about this style and how it differs per country because of the landscape, language, culture, even religious beliefs and the various arts and crafts movements of the past. It also made me wonder what Japanese country style looks like, and what elements define Russian country style. It’s a pretty neat topic to ponder.

What Is Country Style To You?

Now I will put this topic on the floor and ask for your opinion. Can you comment with where you live and what elements define country style in your part of the world. Maybe you can write about the most popular country styles, colors, old-fashioned customs that influence your local country style, etc. Also do other cultures influence country style where you live (I see a lot of “New England” country style here in Germany along with Scandinavian country, French country, and a more folksy country style that is more local I think), etc. Of course in the states we have a variety of country styles influenced by craft movements from the past, but there is also retro country that is very “American” specific. And of course, in American we have shops that carry only French country products. Then there is this New England country style which has a more coastal vibe. Another idea is that you can post all about this topic on your blog and then leave the link to your post below so we can all pop over to visit you and read about your impressions – maybe you can post photos or something to support your impressions?

(images: patchwork harmony)


  • Reply Chelsea September 16, 2009 at 8:04 am

    What an interesting topic… like you, I have never really thought about it before. I even think there are different country styles within a country. For instance, I am from the US, Utah to be specific, and country style here is has an old western, and also very rustic feel to it. Homes with a country flair tend to have lots of animal skins (and prized animal heads), nature or desert inspired colors, lots of wood, and a bit of cowboy or pioneer flair! Homemade quilts would adorn the wall, with lots of family photos. Rooms would be warm, casual, cozy, and rustic (lots of leather and wood). You may find a tin of sunflowers or lavender on the table.
    But, I would guess “country” in California would be a bit more breezy, and country in the mid-west would be more classic Americana (red, white & blue), white picked fences, rocking chairs on a wrap around front porch… you get the idea.

    Now, I live in Dominica, a small country/island in the Caribbean and country here is different from all of those! Country here would be a home up deep in the rainforest, there wouldn’t be windows- just shutters. Bright reds, teals, and yellows would be everywhere, inside and out. Furniture would all be handmade either from wicker, or teak wood, and have a very casual, worn in beachy feel. Exotic flowers, that were just picked, would be on your table and you may have a parrot hanging out with you too! Woven baskets made by local carib women would be present, with pictures of ancestors on the wall. Decor would be inspired by the beautiful natural surroundings, with lots of bright floral patterns and an almost “moroccan” feel to it. The theme here in Dominia, for country style, is color and heritage I would say.

    So curious to hear what others have to say… thanks!
    .-= Chelsea´s last blog ..Happy 1 Lucca! =-.

  • Reply Jacqueline September 16, 2009 at 8:26 am

    Holy, you got me pondering too…there are truely so many different type of country style. Now im staring at my lappie screen and thinking~~

    I live in Malaysia and we have so many different races here that i think my impression of the country style here in this country is a mixture and influence of many different cultures. Really interesting topic and i will have to ponder more into it. :D

    Have a lovely merry happy day and love to you!
    .-= Jacqueline´s last blog ..wishing weekend like this could last longer… =-.

  • Reply Sarah September 16, 2009 at 8:36 am

    Hi Holly: well, I have posted what I feel country style is…I live in New England and although you mention the coastal vibe, I didn’t include that…I always think New England country can be cottage, Adirondack and Americana…but, that’s just my humble opinion – but, one could argue that the coastal vibe does include the cottage (vibe), hence the Maine coastline and shingle style homes etc. which celebrate the painted furniture and wicker (Maine Cottage stores for instance!)-the English country style will always be rumpled cotton florals (at least 3-4 patterns in one room), seagrass and comfy furniture (a la Cath Kidston and Rachel Ashwell) to me Great food for thought!!
    .-= Sarah´s last blog ..What is country style? =-.

    • Reply decor8 September 16, 2009 at 8:55 am

      Sarah I can’t wait to read it! Thank you!!!!

  • Reply B September 16, 2009 at 8:57 am

    I was just talking about this very issue with my mom a few weeks ago. We pulled together a look for her kitchen dining area that I made a point to mention was French country not American. I’ve never even been to France, but I was convinced! You can see the post I pulled together on the look at http://tinyurl.com/mjqqsm, and let me know if I’m right.

    I tend to think of American country in terms of Cracker Barrell and unfinished Amish furniture. When I look at country design mags now, I realize that’s so outdated, but I can’t seem to shake the association.
    .-= B´s last blog ..Mama Wants a New Chair…and Dresser and Radio Cabinet and… =-.

  • Reply mrslimestone September 16, 2009 at 9:24 am

    I know its not accurate but the first thing I think about when someone says “country” style is clutter and chickens. In other words, not a good thing.

    I have to force myself not to jump to conclusions when I see that word because I know there are many country styles that are just lovely.

  • Reply cary September 16, 2009 at 9:53 am

    I live in “horse country” area of va.I would describe Middleburg,Va style as english country meets Va.Lots of stafforshire dogs, fox hunt scene paintings and riding boots meeting you at the front door.Jewel toned oriental rugs paired with yellow painted walls and blue&white spode everywhere there is a place to hang it or set it.
    Now personally I do not decorate this way…though pretty much everyone else in the area does. Including my Mother. I grew up in an old Federal right in the center of town and it’s filled to the rim with family antiques that someday I will have to incorporate into my own style. I do have my Grandmothers old Stafforshire dogs but they are placed in front of my “for like ever” art print. I do have an old french country table that my Mother gave to me as a wedding gift. When I didn’t know what direction I was going in … but I have paired it with white mid-century chairs. Old with the new.
    .-= cary´s last blog ..Inspiration Dining… =-.

  • Reply mixed greens chic September 16, 2009 at 10:04 am

    The term country does give one that feeling of little chicks and wicker, but it depends on what “country” you are talking about…my favorite style is french country…a little bit vintage, a little old world feel with subtle colors.
    .-= mixed greens chic´s last blog ..gather ye rosebuds while ye may! =-.

  • Reply Ashling September 16, 2009 at 10:47 am

    Hi Holly,

    I love your website, visit it so much, hope you’ve settled in well in Germany and are getting use the European lifestyle. I have posted some photographs on my blog of traditional Irish Country Cottages which I have spotted over the last couple of weeks. They are venacular architecture composed of simple plan form and mostly thatched roofs. All traditional Irish Cottages were whitewashed in the past. I hope you all like them.

    All things nice… http://www.allsortsofthings.wordpress.com
    .-= Ashling´s last blog ..Some Traditional Irish Country Cottages =-.

  • Reply Ashling September 16, 2009 at 11:00 am

    Hi Holly,

    Don’t think my last comment worked. I love your blog and spend so much time reading it. I hope you have settled well into the European way of life. I have a few recent photographs I have taken of Irish Country Cottages which you may like to check out. They are venacular architecture with simple plan form, which were traditionally thatched and white washed with lime. I hope you like them

    All things nice….. http://www.allsortsofthings.wordpress.com
    .-= Ashling´s last blog ..Some Traditional Irish Country Cottages =-.

  • Reply Travelingmama September 16, 2009 at 1:05 pm

    Holly, I loved this post and I cannot wait to check out everyone’s links! I posted a few photos of Morocco’s country style. I hope you will not mind the earthy dirt floors and unpretentious friends we have come to know!
    .-= Travelingmama´s last blog ..country {style} =-.

  • Reply Jennifer September 16, 2009 at 1:05 pm

    I think being located in Texas I’m kind of at an advantage because there are really three different types of country decor here, one that is more in line with the Midwestern/Amish type feel, one that is more in line with the feel of the Deep South which may or may not also have a coastal feel with it, and lastly the Western Country decor which incorporates either a Southwestern feel or strictly designs that have to do with the cowboy way of life. So even within one state, country can have so many different meanings. This is really a great post and something that I’ve thought about before. I wish someone would come out with a different term for each of the looks rather than just “country” because it really is way too broad of a term.
    .-= Jennifer´s last blog ..Ebay Finds: Vintage Tourist Souvenirs =-.

  • Reply Nina September 16, 2009 at 1:10 pm

    Hi Holly,
    I don’t have any ‘country’ photos to post on my blog today, so I’ll write about it here. I live on the West Coast of Canada (Victoria BC to be precise) so the perspective I have is that our version of country is a blend of two styles, French and traditional Canadian. For French, it’s weathered wood furniture painted white and lots of gray and blue hues. Lots of old pieces with history. For the Canadian side of things, it’s natural rich wood pieces and fabrics in creamy red tones and off-whites. (I’m trying to avoid the mental image of log cabin/roaring fire/Hudson’s Bay blanket but I think I’m failing!). Country here is definitely about bringing the outside indoors. :)
    .-= Nina´s last blog ..RSS Links Widget =-.

  • Reply Mary Lawler September 16, 2009 at 1:31 pm

    For me, cottage or country living should reflect the lifestyle of people who didn’t redecorate their house every 5 years. With somewhat limited means, if you wanted to redecorate, you painted the chairs another color. The furniture is basic, utilitarian, clean lines with just a little detail. Fabrics are natural, commonly found and it’s the sewing that brings in the opportunity for a little detail. Wallpaper or tastefully retrained stenciling would be appropriate. Everything should have the patina that comes with reusing and re-purposing

  • Reply Niki September 16, 2009 at 2:33 pm

    How true!

    In my province, British Columbia, “country” style can vary vastly from region to region. For example, on the West Coast where I live we don’t necessarily have a country style, per se. But we do have a rustic style of our own referred to as “West Coast” that draws inspiration from our rainforests, ocean, and coastal mountains. Think, big wood beams, blues, greys, deep earthy greens, large windows, and other very simple and natural elements.

    However, in Northern B.C. “country” might have a very farm-ish and back-woodsy feel to it. Lots of plaid, log homes, pine furniture, etc. Elsewhere in Canada, one might choose to interpret “country” with an ode to cabin/cottage life.

  • Reply Beachtropic September 16, 2009 at 6:59 pm

    Hello Holly
    I do so love your blogs when you get all inspirational, thats when I share them around to my special friends.
    I live on the coast of New South Wales in Australia, but to me, ‘our’ Country Style is all about the outback. Think old post and rail fences, horses etc. Inside, think old oak furniture, rag rugs, a stone fireplace with a huge basket of timber for burning on the cold winter nights. Think long low houses with verandahs on all 4 sides to keep the sun away and the house cool, with an old couch out there so that you can look over the river or the sunset in the west after a hard day’s work. Think riding boots lined up at the back door. And fly screens on all the windows and doors. Think huge kitchen table with mismatched chairs and a well worn apron hanging on the back of the door. Think cedar furniture in the living room, with a bunch of fresh picked daisies in an old milk jug. Its all a bit ‘shabby’ and very comfortable, and comforting for that matter. About not trying to hard.
    Here’s a link to an Aussie mag ‘Country Style’. http://www.countrystyle.com.au/
    Many thanks
    Di xx

  • Reply Beachtropic September 16, 2009 at 7:10 pm

    Hi again Holly,
    If you let me know your address I will send over a copy of one of the Country Style mags from here in Australia.
    Di xx

  • Reply Emma September 16, 2009 at 10:16 pm

    Hi Holly (and all her readers), I am a big subscriber to country style for our little cottage on our farm, and in my case I guess it is Australian country style although I had not thought about it too much until you started pondering global country design! I have posted on my blog littlemissemmadesign.blogspot.com my thoughts on what Australian country style is and what defines it and sets it apart from other styles.
    Thanks for the inspiration, Em
    .-= Emma´s last blog ..{ Australian Country } =-.

  • Reply Anna September 18, 2009 at 12:11 am

    Country style, to me, is plaids, lavender, soft whites and lots of natural sunlight. A big wrap-around porch with wicker furniture and a big, busy kitchen!

  • Reply Anna September 18, 2009 at 12:12 am

    oops, i want to be be notified of followup comments but i forgot to check the little box, so that is what i’m doing now :) sorry

  • Reply Carolina September 20, 2009 at 5:47 pm

    This is a really interesting question. I had never really thought about all these different “country” styles, but when you do, you realize just how different they are and how they really reflect the different cultures. I live in Argentina, and here, “country style” refers to a very rustic style that comes from the livestock farms and “gauchos” (argentine “cowboys”). Lots of raw wood furniture, cowhides, leather, silver accessories, warm, earth tones, really, I think, the definition of rustic.

  • Reply Ericka Napp September 21, 2009 at 5:03 pm

    Hi Holly,
    I read your blog a lot and when I saw ‘country style’ I got so excited but then scrolled down and saw the english country look and thought ‘oh this isn’t the country style I was thinking about’. Not only until today when I read something on twitter, did I come back and read the whole article! This is a great question, and one that is near and dear to my heart because even though I knew what I thought it was in my head-to lay it out in pictures and fonts and design style is another thing. I just joined my family business to try to show the world their little piece of the country, and how they live. I wanted to capture the feeling of the outdoors and country side, along with their craft that they work with everyday. Here’s the link of how I’ve attempted to portray this. I think country style to me is: rustic modern. http://www.dodgestationpottery.com

    Thanks! oh and I’ll have a blog soon and I can post about country style all the time:)

  • Reply Penny Patten September 22, 2009 at 9:32 am

    What a great topic, I do live in New England and love country style, but at the same time I love many different versions of country. I’ll work on a country post, and love to send you a link!
    .-= Penny Patten´s last blog ..100_4313/ Kids Flying Kites Video =-.

  • Reply Kitty September 22, 2009 at 3:00 pm

    I like this topic, because my idea of country style has changed over the years, as it seems everyone’s has.
    I’m leaning towards an “urban country” look these days, combining mid-century classics with industrial finds, architectural salvage and the like.
    I live in a place that has lots of hidden treasures to be found at auctions, as well as some great shops.
    A great example of some of the amazing country style things to be found in Iowa can be seen in a post I just did today! Lots of photos:

    .-= Kitty´s last blog ..Sisters’ Garden and Bloom =-.

  • Reply Tina April 27, 2011 at 9:46 pm

    Having spent a lot of time on our family farm as a child and being a city girl as well I just crave the days gone by of country life.

    I have gone through so many fazes of country style but in the last 8 years or so I have gravitated to french provence. There is something about the simplicity of it that is so appealing to me as I get older.

    Thanks for a lovely post!

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