Shortly after Bryce and I got engaged, he moved back to California for a while. Despite the long-distance planning, our wedding came off without a hitch. Until we opened gifts. With every box we opened I got more and more confused. There was an abundance of rooster decor: pot holders, dish towels and even a ceramic rooster cookie jar. Then we got to the bedding…a full Americana bedding ensemble, complete with Old Glory-inspired quilt and shams. Did the people from his hometown have horrible taste? Were roosters and patriotic bedrooms a hot trend in Northern California? I finally asked what was going on. He explained that he thought that’s what I liked, so he put them on our registry! (Also possible: he picked them out specifically to mess with me.) I wouldn’t put that past him.
While it’s true, I am a small town girl; and that small town IS located in an agricultural region, I wouldn’t necessarily describe myself as a “country girl.” (Unless you count that one time I got thrown into a pig-tying contest…but that’s a story for another day.) More than a decade after the wedding gift situation I still couldn’t figure out why every time I turned around my style was called “country.” I typically associate the style term country with the 80’s geese and cornflower blue heart wallpaper. Or rooster cookie jars and Americana bedding. While there’s nothing fundamentally wrong with roosters and patriotic textiles, they just don’t speak to my heart.
So what IS country, anyway? My friends at Joss & Main invited me to be a style curator (EEK!!!) for their Country Kitchen Ideas; which prompted a lot of thought on the subject: What IS my style? I’ve never really needed to name my style. I just do what feels right. And it turns out that my style is actually country after all. Who knew!?! For my research, I turned back to one REAL country kitchen I’m familiar with: my grandparents’ farmhouse. They had a farm in Idaho; and it was one of my favorite places to visit as a kid. I haven’t been back there for years, but the memories are still as fresh as the raspberries picked from the yard. So as I tour that farmhouse in my mind, this time as an adult, here are the elements of country style that stand out:
- Practicality. Everything serves a purpose; and nothing is too precious to be used. My dad still talks about his first meal with his future in-laws: my grandma used Depression glass as her everyday serving pieces.
- Mismatched prints. Florals, plaids, stripes, calico prints; a mix of prints lends a cozy, casual feel that’s the cornerstone of the style.
- Colorful dishes: My grandma had these turquoise blue melamine berry bowls. We’d eat fresh raspberries and milk out of the blue bowls as dessert with every meal. I looked forward to breakfast every morning, because of the juice glasses with cute fruit prints on them.
- Painted wood furniture: My grandma had this table and chairs that she gave a fresh coat of white paint every year or two to keep it looking nice.
- Durable materials: Metal, stoneware and weathered woods are unfussy and practical foundations of the style.
- Cozy Ambiance: When there’s a chill in the air, there’s a crackling fire in the fireplace; the smell of apple crisp fills the air; and there are plenty of handmade quilts and blankets for cuddling up with a good book.
Even now that I’ve realized country is my style; the word “country” still evokes the 80’s geese. I just can’t shake those geese. So I’m going to call this “Colorful Farmhouse” style instead. When I decorate, I want my spaces to feel comfortable and casual. Not too stuffy or precious to be touched and used. I have always gravitated toward color and painted woods. And if you look at the pictures from my hutch makeover, almost every one of my criteria for “Colorful Farmhouse” is shown. And P.S. my dining room makeover is finally done. I’m sharing the whole room tour later on in the week!
Now that I’ve come to terms with my own colorful country style, here’s a shopping guide to help you get the Colorful Farmhouse look:
- Floral napkins: Our neighbors in Wyoming used cloth napkins for every meal; and I loved it so much. It makes every meal feel like a special event.
- Painted chairs: I’m a huge fan of mismatched colorful painted chairs. They wipe down easily; and you can always paint over them if they get damaged or you’re in the mood for a change.
- Hobnail goblets: Again with the making every meal seem special. Both of my grandmothers were good at this; and it’s such a memorable part of our meals together.
- Colorful bowls: Like I need an excuse to buy more latte bowls. But they fit the bill perfectly.
- Floral teapot: Cozy, inviting, and floral. Perfect.
- Farmhouse table: The more guests the merrier. Make sure there’s plenty of room for everyone.
- Apron: Cute and practical. Grandma would approve.
- Pendant light: Rustic and practical; this barn light is the perfect addition to any farmhouse kitchen.
- Table cloth: Table linens up the cozy factor; and add another layer of color to the kitchen.
- Stoneware Vase: No country kitchen is complete without a rustic vase (or plain white pitcher) with a bouquet of wildflowers. Or a bouquet from Trader Joe’s. Almost the same thing. Right?!?
So there you have it. Colorful Farmhouse. It’s a thing. If you’re not sick of me yet, hop over to Joss & Main to see some of my other Country Kitchen must-haves.