Decorate with Crafts

Accent-uate the Positive

The Country Sampler stylists cook up country flavor in a primitive kitchen with homespun accessories. Follow their lead to add spice to your space!

C108DWC00WDebbie Schwartz's Western Springs, Illinois, kitchen has been the subject of more than one makeover in the past 30 years. Instead of completely gutting the space and starting over every time she wanted a new look, Debbie took matters into her own hands -- literally! -- and retooled the cabinets and countertops with faux paint treatments. To achieve her current look, she painted the cabinets dark navy blue and went over them with walnut-hued stain before finishing the treatment with a few coats of sealer. "I changed the cabinets to match the island, which was a gift from a friend," she says, adding that she employed a similar method to transform the countertop. After sanding and priming, she painted the surface a mustard color and then gave it a wood-like look with the same walnut stain used on the cabinets. Several coats of sealer completed the job.

To decorate her perfectly primitive kitchen, Debbie looked to Country Sampler stylists Sally-Jo Enstad and Catherine Parker for help. "Debbie's kitchen is an awesome backdrop for primitive accents," Sally-Jo says. "She made our job extremely easy!"

C108DWC03WOpen-Door Policy
Although they focused most of their redecorative advice on the adjacent kitchen, Sally-Jo and Catherine also helped Debbie spruce up a cabinet in the dining room with accents that complement her prized wood bowls. "We accented Debbie's gorgeous bowl collection with items we thought were both useful and attractive," Sally-Jo explains. "The baskets offer some great storage and display space, and they bring interesting texture into the vignette."

Noting another great secret storage spot, Catherine adds, "The oblong box on the counter is just the right size for napkin rings or taper candles. The little candle on top brings in more primitive charm, too."

Debbie especially likes the framed sampler hung on the door of the hutch because it reminds her of one she made herself long ago. The stitchery, whose black frame sets it off from the wood door, draws out the accent colors of the baskets with its red, blue and green thread. "Always try to use ordinary spaces, such as cabinet doors, creatively," Catherine says. "Hang framed artwork on or even just drape a plaid dish towel over a door to add interest and dimension."

C108DWC02WIsland in the Stream
A close friend and fellow primitives enthusiast handcrafted the beautiful kitchen island in Debbie's kitchen, which served as the inspiration for the room's new look. "I used to have cream cabinets and navy countertops," Debbie recalls.

To dress up the kitchen's centerpiece, the stylists brought in simple accessories to accent the primitive lines and finish of the island. For starters, Sally-Jo and Catherine put together a countertop vignette: an antique dough board hosting a wrought-iron candlestick, a star crock filled with greens, and a wood bowl holding fragrant cinnamon-bun candles and a few pinecones. "A rectangular wood tray or dough board is a staple for any home," Sally-Jo says. "It's easy to relocate if you need counter space and keeps items together so they look like a deliberate grouping."

Also bringing primitive charm to the kitchen are a quaint punched-tin chandelier hung above the island, which offers timeworn style -- and extra light -- to the space, and a wood sign hung below the counter that announces Debbie's passion. Clear glass jars with tin lids function as storage solutions and decorative elements when filled with dried spices, cinnamon sticks or other rustic-looking foodstuffs.

C108DWC01W On the Bench
Sally-Jo and Catherine have great style cornered in this window-side nook of the kitchen, much to Debbie's delight. "I love the benches with the pottery," Debbie says. "And, I like how they hung the valance on twine like I did in the rest of the house." The window area gets even more old-fashioned flavor from a mini dresser boosting a salt-glazed jug and a small basket hung between the two shutters. Underfoot, a beige-and-black braided rug provides the wood floor with warmth and texture. On the counter, small accents surround the sink, including a round black clock, a pair of glass butter churns, a candlestick lamp and a large jar candle nestled inside one of Debbie's bowls. A charming candle box lamp completes the perfectly primitive makeover.

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