From the September Home Accents Today Anniversary Issue, Kara Cox Describes Country design in The Big Trend.
The April 1986 issue opened its style pages with the statement, "Country is unquestionably the most popular of all decors today." While much has changed in the last 20 years, Country remains popular and has evolved to encompass a host of informal styles from Southwestern to Folk, Lodge to Beach.
The mid 1980s held country styling in high esteem with the most popular Southwestern Chic featuring lightly colored, heavily grained wood, hand-carved and hand-painted effects, and imagery evoking American Indian motifs in warm desert palettes. Style details included rough textures, folk craft inspiration, leather, pottery, kilm rug and soft goods patterns.
As the 1990s approached, English country and Victorian influences brought a sweet, feminine slant to country styling. Flowers, lace, ribbons and heart motifs mixed with wicker, topiary designs and hand-painted wood. Wall decor depicted English countryside scenes and rich tapestries, fringed lampshades and deep Victorian hues.
At the same time Victorian romance was influencing casual style, primitive folk styling appeared with handmade looks, aged leather, rusty metals, raw wood and natural earthy colors. The pieces were used together for an eclectic collected feel rather than store-bought appeal.
In April 1991, Lodge debuted with rustic accents highlighting the American spirit in red, white and blue combinations, historical American scenes in wall decor, and hand-painted wood figures. Floral designs took on a country, wild flower look in wicker basket containers.
By spring of the next year, Western looks were strong in pine, walnut and oak finishes complementing soft tones of brown, beige and terra cotta that warm up rough surfaces and natural materials. Building on the success of the Bob Timberlake collection from Lexington Furniture, the home accessories market debuted rough-hewn, homespun textures and deep earth tone palettes throughout 1992. Tribal patterns appeared in rugs, textiles and ceramics while wall decor focused on Western animals like moose, deer and cattle. Pottery and iron became popular combinations for lighting, while rattan, hickory branches and jute appeared as natural materials.
Late 1994 saw the first move away from lodge to primitive Americana style with simple Pennsylvania Dutch influences in whimsical accents, darker wood finishes, embroidery and needlepoint soft goods designs. Graphic images of fruits and vegetables appeared as primitive expressions of rural style.
In 1996 country began traveling to places like the French countryside, with fleur de lis motifs, French storefront images in wall decor, light woods and painted furniture adding a casual European feel. Weathered vintage looks became popular with faded color palettes, floral patterns and Tuscan vineyard grape motifs dominating lighting designs from table lamps to chandeliers.
As Americans rushed to invest in a second or vacation home, furnishing designers in the mid-'90s introduced a relaxed coastal style with painted wood finishes, brightening whimsical ceramic and wall decor designs.
By the late'90s, several country themes coexisted with handcrafted cottage looks remaining true to American roots, French country blending European themes into casual style and coastal looks popular for second homes and regional decor.
Western made a quick comeback in the early 21st centuery with softened features as modern shapes and contemporary interpretations of Native American patterns adding an updated edge. True country went minimalist with white finishes, wrought iron beds and soft pastel florals.
Saturday, Kara Cox writes about Modern.
Bev & Mike