Decorate with Crafts

Collective Efforts

Combine newer decorative accessories with antiques and other traditional collectibles for a classic country look.

Collective Efforts

Country-to-the-core collector Freda Corwin realizes it's no coincidence that 1984 was the year she and her husband, Neal, put a great room addition on their 1940s Bryant, Indiana, home. Not only did the extra space accommodate their growing family, but it also allowed for the collections Freda was just starting to accumulate -- thanks to a nudge from Country Sampler, which was first published that year. "And it's been my inspiration ever since," she says.

From old breadboards, crockery and coffee grinders to vintage metal light fixtures repurposed as decorative elements, Freda's collections match up perfectly with the great room's beadboard paneling, wood ceiling beams and honey-toned flooring -- all of which the Corwins installed themselves. "We just dug in and got started," Freda says of the process of building the addition years ago. "Now, this room is pretty much where we live when we're home."

In addition to some of the furniture she and Neal fix up (and sell at a storefront called The General Store in nearby Pennville), Freda also loves working current country accents into her decor. She invited Country Sampler stylists Debbie Plantery and René Haines to share ideas for mixing old and new. "Freda's house is what country style is all about," René says. "She has a knack for creating a warm, worn feel in every room." Keep reading for 19 ways to capture this down-home look in your own space!

Collective Efforts

Whoo's The Best?
1. Flock together. To fashion a display with a soft focus, Debbie nestled these cute-as-a-button fabric owls in a rustic pan and added greens and small pomegranates for nature-made color.
2. Spread the love. "Red and green aren't just Christmas colors," Debbie says of this grouping's palette. "A quilted runner that brings out the natural fare is the perfect way to bring in a little more softness and vibrance."
3. Lighten up. For extra visual interest in a vignette, introduce a vertical element. Here, a primitive funnel serves as a distinctive host for a battery-operated candle and its pip-berry ring. Nearby, the sieve's companion pestle provides the scene with another old-time touch.

Collective Efforts

Just Passing Through
4. Open wide. When the Corwins put on their addition, they kept a pass-through to the kitchen that lends a helping hand when the great room serves as a dining area for family gatherings. René gave the opening a little country flair by swagging keeping cloths across the molding.
5. Go around. Draw attention to a classic country lamp, such as Freda's punched-metal light, by setting it inside a star-studded wreath.
6. Pick a side. "I love Freda's matching chairs, but I wanted each side to have its own personality," René says. She draped a quilted throw over the chair at left, which is crowned by a unique shelf and an heirloom clock; at right, a cow pillow adds farm charm below a trellis panel with wood spoons tied onto it.
7. Feel the barn. More farm-related character comes in the form of a horse-themed sign and a chicken crate turned into a coffee table with the installation of bed rails around the base.

Collective Efforts

Long on Style
8. Make it clear. The Corwins love to congregate in this cozy country space with their four children and their families, which includes 10 grandchildren, and the simple Gathering Room sign announces the room's intentions perfectly. Its tones nicely repeat the sofa's upholstery, too.
9. Find middle ground. The sign is also a fitting complement to the sofa-length shelf that hosts several pieces of Freda's crock collection. To fill the space between the two, Debbie chose colorful heart- and pineapple-themed signs framed in lath.
10. Wreath between the lines. Debbie also adorned the wall above the sofa with a candle-holding wreath hung between two candle sconces that feature a similar round profile. Red candles in the sconces bring out the hues found in the signs and the wreath's gingham bow, among other accessories.
11. Cuddle up. Repeating the circular shape of the wall decor, a wedding ring-pattern throw breaks up the back of the plaid sofa. More roundabout charm comes from some graphic boxes and a snowman plate propped up on the shelving at right.
12. Be materialistic. The tabletops are softened by more textiles, such as the mats underneath the lamps and the runner on the coffee table. "It's nice to have fabric touches on your wood decor, especially during winter," Debbie says.
13. Strive for simplicity. The star runner offers a graphic base layer for a simple grouping comprising a scale topped with a flameless votive and a bowl of greenery.

Collective Efforts

The Daily Grind
14. Show and tell it. Choose signage that follows the lead of one of your collections. Here, a coffee-themed sign framed by a wood shelf serves as a fitting complement to Freda's grouping of grinders. A similar-profile placard lightens up the dry sink's unique copper back.
15. Connect the dots. "When you have lots of black and wood-toned pieces, such as these grinders, it's nice to connect them with a colorful filler, like these nice long-needled greens," René says.
16. Fill the void. Greens also provide extra interest to the left side of the dry sink basin, where a battery candle inside an oversize jar rests in a wood bowl. Below, more natural charm comes via a garland made of sweet potato chunks strung together and air dried.
17. Squeeze in. On the right side of the dry sink, a perfect-fit recipe box hosts a vintage coffee can and a petite grinder set atop a lace doily, which lightens what could be a too-dark display.
18. Wrap things up. Thinking outside the sign, René stenciled an old-fashioned design onto a piece of muslin, hemmed the raw edges, and secured it around one of the stacked crocks with hook-and-loop tape.
19. Pad yourself on the (chair) back. With a similar feel to the fabric band on the crock, a stenciled pineapple pillow proudly offers up a Colonial welcome on an antique wood chair at left.

For more information, visit our Craft Fair online.

Timer saltbox house candle, Smicksburg Drying Shed
Owls of the season, Ginther Village Craft Co
Rosewood table runner, Retro Barn Country Linens

Keeping cloth with black stars, Glory Days Mercantile
Metal star wreath, Britches N' Bows Country Store
Black cow hand-appliquéd pillow, Retro Barn Country Linens
Antiques sign and tin lamp, Pine Cone Gift Shoppe

Heart and pineapple signs, Impressions on Market
Williamsburg burgundy pip-berry wreath with timer candle, Smicksburg Drying Shed
Tea-stained Wedding Ring quilted throw, Homespun Blessings
Primitive Antiques Buy Sell Trade oval stacking boxes, Gainers Creek Crafts
Snowman and little bird plate, Valley Flowers and Gifts
Primitive flameless votive, The Red Brick Cottage
Wishing Star runner, Choices Quilts

Fresh Brewed Coffee and The Simple Life signs, Hare Hollow
Recipe box, Red Fox Primitives, LLC
Pineapple pillow, Pine Cone Gift Shoppe
Millinery stencil, Scrappin' Along Craft Stencils

Written by Elizabeth Preston Morrissey
Photographed by Scott Campbell
Styled by Debbie Plantery & René Haines