Monday, September 24, 2007

Home Decor Serenade


Rustic Accessories the New Buzz in Home Decor

As the cooler seasons draw closer, thoughts and activities drift slowly from the outdoors to the inside, and the annual human version of hibernation begins. We re-acclimate to shorter days and longer, colder nights. There is a sense that the house must be buttoned-up for the winter.

More time is spent indoors, and so this is also when many people decide to give their home decor a new look. Many people are rediscovering the beauty of primitive, rustic decor. The wonderful part about decorating with primitive accessories is that they don't have to be perfect. Since many early items were utilitarian and made on the spot for a specific use, they were often flawed: corners were not square, tops were not level and sides were not smooth.

Because there are more options from which to choose today, these rustic pieces may not be used as once intended. Often it's just a matter of rethinking for today's needs. A dry sink, for example, is better used for display than for cleaning. A galvanized bucket is better suited today for holding bath accessories or children's art supplies; and a tin-punch pie safe is more useful for storing almost anything than the pies for which it was built. An old trunk turned on its end can be opened to display a variety of old quilts and blankets stacked colorfully, with a table lamp above.

Basic wooden furniture, whether painted and peeling, or scratched and dented from years of use, is finding its way back into homes today. Because these are not fine antiques, but basic home furnishings, they often cost less than similar pieces purchased new. In an active home where items are used daily, dents and scratches are the norm. These basic pieces blend nicely in a casual space, giving an eclectic look to any room.

Decorative artists and crafters are seizing upon this style to provide buyers with accents to blend with this decor, and today there are "new" primitives to complete the look. Floor and wall treatments can bring this eclectic look together. Although wall-to-wall carpet does not lend itself to rustic styles, it is a fact of life in many homes. On carpeted floors, try an area needlepoint, rag or braided rug between two pieces of furniture to emphasize the style. Use a twin grip pad to keep it from shifting on the pile. This also works perfectly on natural surfaces such as wood, stone, brick and tile.

On smooth surfaces, try rugs or consider a floor mat. These are a 21st century adaptation of an 18th century craft. Often made from primed canvas, then painted with acrylics and sealed, they are perfect under a kitchen table, in a mud room, under a baby's high chair, or in any area that sees debris and moisture. Use a rubber pad under all rugs or mats to keep them from slipping.

One of the newest old designs making a re-appearance is the simple bee. From antiquity, bees have evoked images of wealth, industriousness and nurturing. The phrases "busy as a bee," or "she has a bee in her bonnet," and even the "birds and the bees" are common. Even the word "medicine" has its roots in honey or mead, an alcoholic drink made from the honeycomb.

Carol Endres, America's foremost primitive folk artist, in conjunction with Chesapeake Wallcoverings, has introduced a new collection of designs to enhance rustic decor, "Beekeeper's Inn." Her designs call to mind a place where life is simple and quiet and where home cooking and handcrafts are a part of every day. In this delightful sample book, Carol offers tips on making beeswax candles and herb-flavored honey in addition to her rustic and complimentary designs. Browsing through it gives the reader many ideas on decorating and folk craft that can apply to any home decor. Look for this collection at a wallpaper showroom close to you, or find it at www.cheswall.com.

To make vignettes within a room, use items in unexpected places. An easy accent is a small quilt or needlepoint rug. In your breakfast area, drape a quilt over a sideboard or your table when not in use. Hang a shelf 3/4 of the way down a wall to display treasures, but keep it simple. Use wallpaper above the shelf and a border or hanging pegs below. In the family room, flank a fireplace with old painted chairs, place a rug between them and you have a cozy place to warm your hands after coming in from the cold. Use a simple small print or a plaid on the walls in a color that contrasts with the chairs, and then use a border, or a combination of borders, to bring out the color. If you have a mantle, keep it simple with a candle or oil lamp and a couple of toys or utensils. By keeping things uncomplicated, motifs can be changed seasonally. The focal point of the family room, for example, can be moved away from the fireplace over to a window, and the kitchen tablecloth changed to something lighter, such as cheesecloth.

EDITOR'S NOTE: Chesapeake Wallcoverings Corporation is dedicated to bringing traditional designs, from a wealth of renowned artists into today's home at an affordable cost. Chesapeake delivers three collections a year to the public; the newest, "Beekeeper's Inn," can be viewed at www.cheswall.com. This virtual library from Chesapeake features all nine current collections and includes hanging instructions, measuring tips and room set photography enabling customers to browse through at their own pace, gathering ideas for every room in the house.

Courtesy ARA Content, http://www.aracontent.com.

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