Decorate with Crafts

Comfort Level

Put a cozy primitive spin on any part of your home, from eating areas to organization stations.

Comfort Level

Debbie and Jerry Fitzgerald may be empty nesters, but the door to their primitives-packed home in rural Kirkland, Illinois, is always open to their grown daughters, Shannon and Courtney, and to their three grandchildren. Despite being a modest 1,100 square feet, the house has a cozy, welcoming vibe thanks to its open floor plan. "Everything is open, so it feels bigger," Debbie says. "We also have a wraparound porch, which helps."

Another important factor in making the Fitzgeralds' home a comfortable rural retreat is Debbie's keen eye for authentic antiques and newly crafted primitive pieces, some of which she creates herself. "I used to do country, and I've always loved antiques," she says of her natural progression toward a more rustic look. "I started getting into primitive when I met my friend Sandy. I get more and more primitive all the time -- it really grows on you!"

Open to fresh ideas for buddying up newer accessories with her timeworn treasures, Debbie invited Country Sampler stylists Nancy Borsodi, Debbie Plantery and Candy Garcia to share a few style tips. "Debbie has such a wonderful knack for matching up beautiful antique furniture with more whimsical pieces," Nancy says. "We had a ball carrying on that theme with a mix of rustic and cute decor." The stylists also made a point of combining practical organizing hints with just-for-fun elements -- read on for their 20 innovative ideas to help welcome this cozy-yet-functional feel into your own home.

Comfort Level

Ewe Got It
1. (Re)think positively. Reimagine a standard kitchen helper as the base of a display, as the stylists did here with a black paper towel holder they set atop a penny runner and then adorned with adorable sheep and related fare.
2. Arrive with bells on. Pick a feature of your signature element to play up with another accent, such as the sleigh bells that the stylists wound around this arrangement, which echo the rusty bells on the sheep.
3. Grow with the flow. "Wheatgrass is so easy to grow at any time of year, and it adds loads of natural color to a display," Candy says. "I also love that it is almost like the little sheep could be grazing on it."

Family Gathering
4. Word it carefully. For a letter-perfect dining experience, show your love of family with cutout-style wall art set flat on your tabletop. Surround the word with simple votives in glass holders that bring just a touch of sparkle.
5. Be a-frayed. Contribute to your tablescape's rustic appeal by fraying the edges of a length of burlap for use as a runner. Nancy also tore homespun fabric into napkins that coordinate with the black and cream dishes.
6. Star fresh. Go beyond a typical round charger and consider a more shapely option, such as a wood star. Task smaller stars as coasters to carry the idea throughout each place setting.
7. Stay neutral. "A monochromatic setup can be really interesting," Nancy says. "You just have to include elements with good texture and pattern, such as the braided place mats and chair pads."
8. Set things off. A braided mat can also highlight a prim accent, such as a caddy filled with cheesecloth-topped jars.

Hoosier Favorite
9. Shutter to think. Backdrop a classic stack of firkins with rustic shutters sporting textiles and a corn dryer.
10. Do it yourself. Debbie crafted the fabric beets on the shutter and covered the stool with a feed sack. Similarly, a burlap peanut sack stuffed with fiberfill makes for a fun sit-around.
11. Get red-dy. "Red is such a classic color," Debbie Plantery notes. "Use it to draw the eye around a display." Here, the hue appears in a baguette basket, a star-studded candle sleeve and vintage tins.
12. Sift through. Also attracting attention in this grouping, a pair of what Debbie calls "can folk" rest on a red tin set inside a propped-up sifter.
13. Double up. An over-the-door taper holder is the perfect spot to hang another candle, such as this battery taper in a wood holder adorned with greens.
14. Have a magnetic personality. Transform any metal accent into an organization opportunity by attaching recipes, bills or to-do lists with magnets, as seen here with a cheeky black rooster.

All Caught Up
15. Keep things to scale. Construct a country-as-can-be catchall just bursting with charm by suspending a scale clock from the ceiling. Outfit the pan with chicken-wire baskets separated by a simple board acting as a shelf.
16. Tag along. For added prim panache, Candy wrote organizational words on kraft-paper tags and attached them to the baskets as well as to a chicken-wire magazine holder set inside a dairy caddy on Debbie’s bucket bench.
17. Insert here. “One of the best things about primitive decorating is that you can take things just as they are, like Debbie’s great wall cubby that’s missing a few drawers,” Candy notes. Debbie likes to fill the empty spots with pint-size seasonal fare; Candy recommended tucking note cards, pens, stamps and other tidbits inside to go with the organization theme.
18. Take a bow. Perk up plain canning jars with simple twine bows that coordinate with a jute rug set nearby.
19. Go with the grain. Add softness to a hard-around-the-edges display of stoneware and bowls by tucking a crock inside a tea-stained flour sack. Or, turn another sack into an accent pillow.
20. Live it up. Gather a handful of whatever natural fare is readily available, such as greens and berries, and arrange it in a tin lunch box for a quick pop of color.

For more information, visit our Craft Fair online.

Hooked sheep and paper towel holder, Pine Cone Gift Shoppe
Multicolored penny runner, The Unique Black Sheep

Family script in black wood, Smicksburg Drying Shed
Mocha/Frappuccino braided place mats and chair pads, Britches N' Bows Country Store
Reclaimed wood stars, Olde Farm Creek
Three-bin country store caddy with prim jars, Kim's Kountry Kreations
Burgundy Star oval place mat, The Braided Rug Place

Chickens Beware sign, Heart-N-Hand
Prim candleholder with taper, Whims and Wares
Scented candle sleeve on pedestal with berry ring, Homespun Blessings
Baguette basket, KP Creek Gifts

Hanging produce scale clock, Olde Farm Creek
Cloverfield Dairy caddy, Heart-N-Hand
Flour and Grain stuffed sack and Olde Country Store flour sack, Kim's Kountry Kreations
Oval jute rug, Rags to Rugs by Lora

Debbie Fitzgerald's handmade primitives, Country Schoolhouse Primitives
Can folk, Poppy Seed Primitives

Written by Elizabeth Preston Morrissey
Photographed by Maurice Victoria
Styled by Nancy Borsodi, Debbie Plantery and Candy Garcia