Decorate with Crafts

15 Ways to Liven Up Your Living Room

The Country Sampler stylists show you how to subtly change around your decor to get a fresh look for the new year.

0109WDWC00As the mother of two now-grown boys, Debbie Schwartz knows perfectly well the benefits of collecting and decorating with primitives. "I had all boys, so I've been primitive for a long time!" she says. "Primitive style is very laid back. There are no worries about dings and dents and things. I've always loved the things that other people wanted to get rid of."

In addition to damage-resistant tables and cabinets -- many of which were made from reclaimed wood by Debbie's good friend Debbie Campbell -- the home features a lifetime's worth of collections. From pantry boxes and wood dough bowls to woven baskets and antique coverlet remnants, primitives fill shelves and tabletops, bringing an air of country comfort to every room.

Despite the old age of her collectibles, Debbie is always on the lookout for new decorating ideas, so she invited Country Sampler stylists Sally-Jo Enstad and Catherine Parker into her living room for a fresh perspective. "Debbie really has a great sense of style, so we just wanted to show her a few ideas for easy changes she could make," Sally-Jo says. "It's always fun to mix things up a little with big adjustments, like new furniture, and small ones, such as creative tabletop arrangements."

And, Catherine adds, winter is an ideal time to shake up your decor. "I always like the idea of 'new year, new look,'" she says. "You're already shifting things around when you take down Christmas decorations, so why not take the opportunity to try something different?" Read on for 15 fabulous ways to freshen up your home!

0109WDWC01Sign of the Times
1. Be sentimental.
"You can achieve a homey atmosphere with something as simple as a wood sign," Catherine says. "It can set the tone for a display -- and for an entire room, for that matter." 
2. Accessorize!  Debbie and the stylists turned a barnwood peg rack into a style goldmine when they adorned it with a garland of sweet potato chunks, a pair of wood bowls and a pitchfork-shaped branch from Debbie's son's property.
3. Stand tall.  Set a sugar mold atop wood cooling racks or crown a stack of pantry boxes with a hen figurine that brings a bit of barnyard personality to a primitive display.
4. Seek illumination.
  Lighting-themed accents, such as a punched-tin lamp or a unique candle rack, contribute greatly to a country setting. "Wrought-iron lanterns, hogscraper candles and metal lamps are all must-have primitive accessories," Sally-Jo says.

0109WDWC02 The Gathering Place
5. Get in the hot seat.
Make your living space come alive with bold-patterned furniture that provides a dramatic focal point against neutral walls.
6. Contain yourself.
  Baskets and caddies, such as the tool tote holding fruit on the coffee table and the basket of coverlet remnants below, pull double duty when used for storage and display.
7. Fade to black. 
"In a neutral space, black accents often have as much impact as colorful ones," Catherine says. Here, a black crow and a black lantern with a grubby candle fill out the coffee table arrangement.
8. Factor in frames.  "Just like black accessories, framed decor, such as an ornate mirror on the wall or a little print or stitchery on a cabinet, pop in a neutral-toned room," Sally-Jo says. A black-bordered checkerboard on a shelf above the sofa creates the same effect.
9. Size up the competition.
  Oversized accents, such as a larger-than-life jar lamp, make for great conversation starters.

0109WDWC03Sinking In
10. Corner your style.
Dress up an often overlooked space with a gathering of primitive decor piled on and around a dry sink.
11. Stack the deck.
  As a repeating theme, the stylists strategically arranged a group of colored baskets, a trio of round boxes and a blue bench topped with a bucket, a yellow candle and an electric light in a tin bucket.
12. Follow a pattern. 
Just a touch of graphic appeal, from a small game board on a shelf or a plaid cloth looped over the side of the dry sink, makes any display more interesting.
13. Adorn with ornaments. 
Hang simple accents, such as a rusty star or a small bouquet of dried herbs, from drawer knobs.
14. Go Low.
  Fill the space underneath a dry sink or console table with an eye-catching element, such as an open wood box embellished with a miniature wreath.
15. Take a shortcut. 
"It took about three minutes to arrange the chair at an angle with a bowl of black walnuts on it," Sally-Jo says, "but it adds a lot of depth to the vignette."

Visit our Craft Fair online for more information.

Make-Do Candle Stand, M & M Dry Goodes
Black Three-Leg Lamp, Country Spirit
Hen Finial and Family Sign, The Country Chicken

Adams Settle, Jefferson Chair, Oval Braided Rug, Bell Jar Lamp and "Old Brick Farmhouse" Print, It's a Crock Country Store
Tray, Colonial Accessories
Country crow, The 13th Colony
Williamsburg Basket, Joanna's Collections
What Happens at Nana's Stitchery, Simply Gianna
Black Lantern with Etched Star, Folkart Gatherings
Grubby Cake Candle in Lantern, Scented Splendors
Black and Red Game Board, Klages Kollectibles
Early-American Scrolled Mirror, Colonial Hill Primitives

Set of Four Round Baskets, Folkart Gatherings
Courting Candle Pan, Smicksburg Drying Shed
Mason Jar Candle, Strawberry Fields Candles & Gifts
Primitive Polyresin Boxes, Decorators Friend
Red Willow Mini Game Board, Klages Kollectible
Large Jar Candle, Pineridge Scents Candle & Sign Co.

Written by Elizabeth Preston
Styled by Sally-Jo Enstad & Catherine Parker
Photographed by Maurice Victoria
Produced by Dennis Morgan