Decorate with Crafts
Stars and Stripes Forever
Having grown up with a mother who was a crafter and proprietor of an antiques shop, Ashley Knapschafer comes by her interests in DIY decor and primitive furnishings naturally. She’s put both to good use decorating the Bryant, Indiana, home she shares with her husband, Jeremy, and sons, Dylan and Rowdy.
The family moved into their 1920s home 16 years ago after falling for its rural location. With just two bedrooms and one bath, however, it was a bit tight for the growing family, so they renovated and expanded it, adding a basement and several bedrooms and baths as well as a new kitchen and a front porch.
The couple did a lot of the interior finishing work themselves, painting walls and installing ceiling beams and shiplap and pallet walls. Jeremy made much of the home’s furniture, including building a king-size bed for the master bedroom and converting an old nesting box into a side table and wall cabinet for the great room. "If I come up with an idea, he can make it," Ashley says.
Ashley enjoys making things as well, often reinventing reclaimed goods to sell in her mom’s shop. Though she especially enjoys decorating for major holidays, she says she is always looking for tips on incorporating seasonality into her style. Working with Country Sampler stylist René Haines provided her with ideas to help ready her rooms for summer gatherings. Continue reading to discover René’s 19 savvy ways to prepare your home for a star-spangled season.
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1. Musical interlude. Build a vignette atop old sheet music or pages from a vintage songbook that will set your grouping apart from the wood surface. "Look for those that have colorful graphics," René advises.
2. Boxed bunch. Contain most of the arrangement in a weathered wood box, softening it with a flag napkin and using small books to prop up key elements, such as a tin dog holding a flag. Tuck in a few iron barn stars as ballast.
3. Tiny delights. Fill in your tabletop display with small items that lend a textured touch—for example, primitive rag balls in complementary colors and toy blocks lined up to spell out a patriotic word or phrase. Seek out vintage wood blocks with lettering that matches your color scheme.
4. Learning ladder. Perch box signs, such as this quartet that feature beloved quotes from Benjamin Franklin, on the rungs of a small ladder to give them heightened interest.
5. Book smarts. Arrange books in a flag formation atop a wood cubby, standing blue books upright on the left to simulate a canton and stacking red books beside them on the right, with every other spine facing front for a striped effect. Attach small white-painted star shapes to ribbon and place the ribbon ends inside the blue books as you would bookmarks.
6. Light the way. Illuminate multiple areas of your display, including a lantern or a hurricane oil lamp on top of a cupboard and electric candles or fairy lights on shelves or within cubbies. Jeremy made this distinctive side table from a chicken nesting box and barnwood, and René used the compartments to highlight items such as a vintage tin and a flag-emblazoned loaf pan with a timer candle.
7. Cushion comforts. Accent everyday upholstery with coordinating patriotic-motif pillows, and drape a quilted throw over the chair back to give it a whole new look. Add a matching table runner on a nearby surface. Accompany your chair with a decorative stool reupholstered with a starry print fabric and a braided rug stenciled with a similar celestial design.
8. In the wind. Give windmill wall art a fresh, seasonal update by weaving star and stripe ribbons through the blades. Frame a small decorative flag on a blue burlap background to give it some pop and further beautify your wall.
9. Well framed. Prop a framed presidential portrait within a larger frame to increase its visual footprint. Glue printed wallpaper or high-quality gift wrap to a piece of cardboard and secure it to the back of the large frame to provide a contrasting background.
10. Blue note. Update a blue glass bottle by decoupaging it with a color printout of a vintage postcard. Dress it up with stick flags and thrift-store baubles. Nestle the bottle in a petite reproduction dough bowl alongside a ceramic canister perfect for corralling vanity-top odds and ends.
11. Buttons and bowls. Pile a colorful ice cream dish with an assortment of red, white and blue marbles and buttons to stabilize a ribbon-wrapped candle.
12. Love, American style. Backdrop a dresser display with a crocheted word framed in whitewashed barnwood and red and blue mat boards. Position it on two place mats arranged end to end to serve as a runner. 13. In the spotlight. Lift a tin candle lamp or other small accent light to greater prominence by situating it upon a primitive stacking box.
14. Triple crown. Fashion a fun garland to drape across a mirror, headboard or mantel by layering lengths of rickrack, striped ribbon and wired button trim, and then clipping on postcard printouts with mini clothespins. Fill in your vignette with other festive decor that embodies a similar nostalgic charm, like a cute pair of parade-ready figurines.
15. Peek into the past. Gather inspiration from the design of a vintage flag and create a one-of-a-kind art piece by applying chalky-finish paint to the panes of an old window frame. "I found a frame that was already blue, but a chippy white one would work just as well," René observes. Use the pane size to determine the stripe width and number of stripes, and apply painter’s tape to ensure straight, crisp lines. Stencil the numerals and stars on a blue background in the top left pane. Team the painted window frame with a handcrafted sign for greater impact.
16. Door belle. Greet summer guests by decking your screen door with a bountiful burlap wreath featuring an Americana palette surrounding a metal center star. Complement the wreath by attaching some coordinating ribbon to your door trim. Forgo a standard welcome mat and instead lay down a scalloped natural jute rug that matches the color of the burlap in the wreath.
17. Freshly festooned. Enhance a porch staple, like this enamel-topped chest that Ashley employs as the foundation of her seasonal groupings, with a pennant garland made by cutting triangles from red, white and blue cotton fabric and attaching them to jute rope. A folk art–style watermelon slice cut from a piece of plywood brings summery spirit to the front of the chest.
18. Fiery florals. Contain and camouflage favorite potted annuals within cute containers, such as old watering cans. Give the vessels a dash of Fourth of July flair by wrapping them with a length of ribbon or inserting tin firecracker stakes into the pots.
19. Crate expectations. Paint and distress the inside of an old soda crate or a broken drawer to call attention to the decorative contents housed within. Provide an extra boost with a drawered box featuring a dark wood tone that brings depth to the display.
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Dog with flag and star napkin, Home Decor For Your Style
Small and large primitive rag balls, Primitive Home Decors
Cottage ruffled curtain, The Curtain Cottage
Ben Franklin box signs, Impressions on Market
Old Glory quilted wall hanging/throw, throw pillow and table runner, Choices Quilts
E Pluribus Unum pillow, This Country Farmhouse
Burgundy Stars oval rug, The Braided Rug Place
Primitive vintage flag loaf pan timer light, Gainers Creek Crafts
Primitive one-drawer cubby with distressed finish, The 13th Colony, LLC
Hooded hurricane oil lamp, Primitive Home Decors
Tin candle lamp and George Washington portrait, The 13th Colony, LLC
Love framed crochet piece, Marzenia
Small dough bowl, Primitive Home Decors
Place mats, Home Decor for Your Style
Primitive Uncle Sam stacking boxes, Gainers Creek Crafts
Victory bedding, Sweethaven Home
Bethany Lowe Betsy and Liberty Sam figures, Cowboy Creek Gifts
Farmhouse white ceramic canisters, BJ’s Country Charm
God Bless America sign, JB Southern Accents
Firecrackers, Home Decor For Your Style
Americana Burlap Wreath, Simply Blessed Gifts
Natural jute oval rug with scalloped border, Rags to Rugs by Lora
Photographed by Scott Campbell
Styled by René Haines