Country Bedrooms, Part 1

With its emphasis on hand-crafted natural materials, informality, and simplicity, the country bedroom is stylishly restful and refreshing.

The hallmarks of the country bedroom – natural materials, unfussy and practical furnishings, airiness, restrained but rich color schemes, and a commitment to comfort – create an environment that is perfectly conducive to rest and relaxation at any time of day.

Whether stripped, stained, varnished, or painted, wood features heavily in country schemes as floor and wall surfaces, furniture, and smaller decorative objects. Other natural raw materials such as cane, wicker, and cotton play supporting roles. Colors such as teal blue, creamy yellow, conifer green, and rich Indian red are traditional, used on their own to cover broad expanses of wall, or in small doses to give character to large expanses of white or pale neutrals. Furniture has a timeless practicality, based on a mixture of Shaker simplicity, American Colonial elegance, and a hint of toned down Victorian. Generously stuffed cushions, pillows, and quilts ensure that comfort is high on the list of priorities.

Ornamentation, from stencils to children’s toys, is – in appearance if not in actuality – handcrafted. Likewise, fabrics have a slightly rough, homespun appeal, and patchworks and samplers continue the hand-crafted theme. The look is mildly eclectic rather than highly coordinated, but never chaotic – everything has its rightful place.

Creating the Look

Walls: Whether they are plastered, papered, or tongue-and-groove paneled, keep walls plain. Combining low-level, tongue-and-groove paneling with a plain painted surface above is traditional. Consider narrow, vertical tongue-and-groove paneling up to wainscoting level if funds allow, with wide, horizontal tongue-and-groove paneling above, or vice versa. The paneling can be left natural, stained, or painted in solid, matte tones.

Patterned wallpapers are unsuitable, as are chalky ice-cream pastel colors such as light pinks, blues, and mauves. Earth colors, natural dye colors, off-white, and white are ideal for the look – the latter two especially for small bedrooms. For an authentic touch, paint the woodwork – doors, architraves, baseboards, wainscoting, and picture rails – a rich color to counteract the impersonality of white or off white. Varying the density of this color from paneling to architraves, reveals, and baseboards is typical. Consider high-level stencils and friezes with simple geometric motifs or motifs based on fruit, flowers, or leaves; grapes, pomegranates, pineapples, willow and oak leaves, and tulips are all authentic.

Floors: Wide, stripped pine floorboards are ideal, but if your house doesn’t already have them, modern wood-look floor covering strips make an acceptable alternative. You can use subtle paint effects, perhaps even a stencil around the edge to mimic a rug. Hooked, crocheted, knitted, or braided rugs, and embroidered needlepoint rugs, or Berlinwork with rose motifs, look perfect and make walking barefoot comfortable. Plain or striped, inexpensive cotton, hand-woven rag rugs can work equally well. Although not strictly authentic, wall-to-wall carpets in near white or neutral tones won’t detract from the look, provided they aren’t too sumptuous or shaggy.

Windows: As the look depends on plenty of natural light, make the most of windows. Outline small windows in the same color as baseboards and picture rails; you can paint wooden window frames, reveals, and sills, or simply apply a band of color to the wall surrounding the window. White-painted internal louvers, wooden Venetian blinds, and plain, checked or striped fabric shades are fine for the look. If privacy is a problem, or the view is far from leafy and rural, hang simple white net or muslin curtains. A little swag made from patchwork fabric adds a pretty finishing touch on its own or with another window treatment.

Lighting: For practicality, have several light sources: low-level, sited near to the bed for night reading, plus wall-hung and/or ceiling-hung for general illumination. Candles in sconces, freestanding or wall-hung, add to the mood; electric lights mimicking candles are useful as well as attractive. Table lamps with simple shades in checked, striped, or plain fabrics, and earthenware bases, such as old jugs, are ideal. Victorian-style brass table and floor lamps with translucent glass shades, or plain, small contemporary lights, also suit the look.

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