For many, living in country houses is as common as living in any city. For some it might be a second home or the dream of a retreat from urban life. As with any home, a country house can encompass all family activities or just serve as a backdrop for entertaining and relaxing with family and friends. Country houses range from big to small, formal to informal, historic to new or newly renovated.
Country houses needn't be in another state or four or five hours away. They can be as accessible as you want them to be — with just enough psychological distance to disconnect from your daily routine and connect you and your family to a slower and more intimate lifestyle. Country houses also come in a variety of styles, from those that hark back to colonial America, to fantastical French provincial and mellow Mediterranean revival.
Country homes for the most part require a rural setting. Some houses don a coarse branch fence around the acreage with the house sitting in the middle of the land, while others embrace an edge of the parcel for efficiency of deliveries, etc.
For those seeking a country home, usually the desire is to allude to some simple lifestyle — there might be a small garden to grow your own vegetables and fruits, capturing the fascinating farm-to-table concept now sweeping through America. Farm tables are all the rage, from vintage to the new designs at Restoration Hardware.
Furnishing a country home can be quite fun. Depending on your stylistic preference, decorating your home can be either formal or relaxed. A country home does not mandate any specific type of decor. A country home can show off an owner's love of contemporary furnishings, as well as a love of antiques. Of course, the decor should have a point of view, but your home's history or your family's background might serve as inspiration.
Because most people are in search of comfort in a country home, the decor shouldn't be too precious. You should expect people to want to prop their feet up on the coffee table or on an ottoman. Wood finishes, therefore, should not be too pristine. Favor the distressed woods or worn painted finishes that will do well over time as they weather even more.
By all means, consider doing slipcovers for furniture. This way you can change them with each season or as they need to be laundered. A bit of serendipity is expected in the country. Mismatched linens are absolutely a good way to go in bedrooms. Sure, you can use a straw hat as a shade for that lamp you don't know why you bought. Transform a pair of boots into lamps, or maybe it's time to use your aunt's old furs as pillow covers. Antlers that are maybe frowned upon in the city are A-OK in the country. As a matter of fact, "anything goes" is a good mantra for decorating a country house.
Joseph Pubillones is the owner of Joseph Pubillones Interiors, an award-winning interior design firm based in Palm Beach, Fla. To find out more about Joseph Pubillones, or to read features by other Creators Syndicate writers and cartoonists, visit the Creators Syndicate website at www.creators.com.
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