Homes

Decorating country style

Every now and then somebody tells me that we don't highlight country style often enough on these pages, yet it's a look that is perennially popular with New Zealand decorators. A lovely warm environment with classic furniture, vintage finds and a touch of nostalgia can be very sustaining - especially during a wet winter such as this one. So read on for some great ideas to help you bring country style into your home.

Every now and then somebody tells me that we don’t highlight country style often enough on these pages, yet it’s a look that is perennially popular with New Zealand decorators. A lovely warm environment with classic furniture, vintage finds and a touch of nostalgia can be very sustaining – especially during a wet winter such as this one. So read on for some great ideas to help you bring country style into your home.

Dining

Look for vintage furniture – especially tables, chairs and dressers – that can be sanded back, re-stained or painted using ageing techniques. However, if real antiques are short on the ground in your area or scarce online, there many furniture retailers nationwide selling stunning items crafted from local wood, including pine, rimu and kauri at reasonable prices.

Choose a wood and a colour you like and build up your collection according to your budget and your needs. When entertaining, load the table with all your vintage treasures – plus fresh flowers and candlelight – to set the scene for a happy gathering.

Kitchen

In a country-style kitchen, organic materials are utterly essential and chief amongst these is wood. It might be possible for your joiner to use recycled wood so you’re getting the real ocCoy, but if this isn’t feasible, most kitchen companies are well equipped to recreate the look using modern materials. The main thing is to have a clear idea of what you want – a rustic French country style, a lighter, more airy oediterranean flavour, a traditional English country kitchen or even a nod to vintage Kiwiana.

Now, accessorise

As mentioned, flowers and candles are vital ingredients when it comes to creating country style at your place.

If there’s nothing blooming in your garden, gather arm loads of branches and leaves and put them in vessels such as tin watering cans or glass jars. Traditional settings should also feature seasonal fruit in wicker baskets, and collections of shells and pinecones can also be incorporated.

Va va vintage

There are still lots of great vintage treasures, such as kitchenware, linen, clocks, crockery and glassware, available in New Zealand.

The problem is unearthing them. Antique shops are a good source, but they tend to be pretty savvy when it comes to pricing, so you’re unlikely to get a real bargain – especially in bigger cities. Trade oe and other online auction sites are good – as long as someone else with a bigger, fatter wallet isn’t bidding alongside you.

The auction rooms in provincial towns can often yield some great finds, as can farm clearing sales. While your search might involve a little travelling around, that’s half the fun.

Bathroom

It’s fun to put together a country-style bathroom, and of course, these days we have the added bonus of mod cons that were distinctly absent in vintage country interiors. Underfloor heating, mould-proof paints and even running water and flushing toilets are a far cry from the basic conditions those homeowners had to deal with.

The key to success with this look lies in retaining simplicity. An all-white scheme such as this (right) is classic and cool and leaves lots of scope to add personality with well-chosen fixtures, fittings, decorative accessories and other extras such as plants.

Bedroom

Simplicity is again the thing to aim for in a relaxing country-themed bedroom – and once again, white is a decorator’s best friend.

It’s sometimes deemed too cold for some areas of New Zealand but in fact, it reflects light and can help add warmth that way. Add lots of floral in the form of fabrics and accessories, and you can even mix those with checks and stripes.

An utterly minimalist, almost monastic environment in a bedroom can sometimes be a bit depressing. Given that your bedroom is a space where others don’t often intrude, this is a chance to unleash your quirky side and surround yourself with things you love.

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