Decorate with Crafts
When it comes to her priorities, Genoa, Illinois, homeowner Debby Karl proudly admits that shopping for and decorating with antiques is second only to her loved ones. "Next to my family, this is my passion," she says about her primitives pursuits. "I've always loved the country look, ever since I started keeping house 25 years ago."
Luckily, Debby frequently takes the opportunity to share her hobby with her family, whether it's hunting for new pieces with her husband, Hoss, or handing down timeworn treasures to her daughter, Jimme. "Whenever I have something that I don't have a place for anymore but also am not yet ready to sell or give away, my daughter gets it," she says. And, it's not just her family that benefits from Debby's delightful decorating eye: She also runs her own booth at a local antiques shop, The Laughing Cat, and hosts an annual home tour every November, both of which give the public a chance to enjoy her keen sense of country style.
Debby also happily welcomed Country Sampler stylists Sally-Jo Enstad and Catherine Parker into her home to help brainstorm new ideas for giving the Karls' cozy sitting room an extra helping of primitive charm. "Debby was very welcoming of our suggestions," Sally-Jo says. "Much of the fun of country decorating is bouncing new ideas off of friends, so it was a real treat to work with someone so enthusiastic!"
In Your Corner
1. Make a strong statement. In honor of Debby's love for her family -- and of sharing her passion for antiques and decorating with them -- the stylists hung a sentimental sign beneath a box full of wood treasures.
2. Put things in context(ure). Interesting textures abound in this corner, from the green hooked rug on the footstool to a bunch of woven baskets grouped together. To enhance those pieces, Sally-Jo and Catherine introduced an armload of textile elements, including neutral and willow-patterned pillows as well as a coverlet draped over the love seat and a woven table square tucked into a basket on the floor.
3. Glow with the flow. In addition to the warmth brought in by the textiles, the stylists also topped the bucket bench at left with a few room-cozying points of light, including a punched-tin wax warmer and an iron taper candlestick that complement the style of Debby's floor lamp. "As with so many things, a little illumination can go a long way to give your room a comforting atmosphere," Sally-Jo says.
4. Remember the season. Although the holidays are over, a small wood sleigh set on the floor acts as a playful reminder of winter's frosty feel.
5. Get red-dy. "We hung a small cabinet with a distressed red finish on the wall to add more display space," Catherine says. "The painted finish brings in a pop of color, but it is close enough to the wood furnishings to not be distracting."
6. Tell a triveting tale. Welcome roundabout decor to your walls, such as Debby's trio of slate trivets, which fit perfectly in the space between the window and the corner.
7. Cut a rug. Soften hardwood or tile floors with a star-motif rug featuring a braided border that perks up your ground level.
Hutch and Such
8. Hall it away. If your hallway offers enough elbow room, position a shallow display hutch at the doorway to your sitting room or den as an introduction to the great primitive decor waiting inside. "Decorating hallways, staircase landings and entryways is a smart way to maintain a cohesive country look throughout your home," Sally-Jo says. "We carried some of Debby's themes, such as her miniature log cabins, from inside the sitting room out into the hallway."
9. Switch things up. Debby's pewterware collection usually takes center stage in her hallway hutch, so the stylists made a point of keeping several pewter pieces in the vignette but adding more primitive fare for variety. Although once a backdrop for a same-finish pitcher, the larger platter on the top shelf now frames out a pottery bowl filled with wintry greens and pinecones.
10. Be consistent. Sally-Jo and Catherine picked up on the glazed finish of the handled bowl with a star-cutout jar lit by a battery-operated tealight. For additional light-related adornment, standout items from Debby's hurricane lamp collection dot every shelf, and a rustic jar candle spells out the homeowner's hobby.
11. Stay on top. Debby's hutch is fairly narrow, so the stylists utilized its vertical advantages by arranging a pint-size red cabin, a hooked rug and a few bottle-brush trees on top.
12. Side with the experts. "When you're limited in expanding your display in one direction, just try another," Catherine says. "Debby cleverly hung a long basket filled with tapers on the left side of her hutch, which adds lots more visual interest to the whole scene."
Cabin There, Done That
13. Collect your thoughts. Let your collectibles guide your decorating, and you'll be sure to have a space where you feel right at home. A cherished assortment of miniature log cabins served as style inspiration in Debby's sitting room, and the homeowner delights in displaying them on every available surface.
14. Center your focus. To fill out the top of the small table in the middle of the room, Sally-Jo and Catherine laid down a bright quilt as a base for a vivid vignette. They brought in one of Debby's houses, resting it inside a grain scoop that joins a pair of miniature sheep and a faux feather tree in a wood tray. Outside the tray, a red candle surrounded by berries brings out the quilt's bold hues.
15. Show a softer side. Balance out wood and metal furnishings with coverlets draped over cabinet doors and festive accent pillows set on hard chairs.
16. Have a change of art. Swap out any so-so wall decor for signs or other accents that illustrate your favorite collectible, conjure up a favorite memory or just happen to strike your decorating fancy.
17. Borrow bright ideas. "We may have come into Debby's house to give her our styling advice, but she gave plenty to us, too," Catherine says. For example, the stylists reused the homeowner's idea of hanging something on the side of her hallway hutch in the sitting room, where a long dark-finish candle sconce pops against the large cabinet's medium-brown siding and a wispy wreath breaks up the space on one of the large doors.
For more information, visit our Craft Fair online.
IN YOUR CORNER
Shaker-inspired one-door cabinet, Harold's East TN Mountain Woodshop
"Family" sign, North Country
Johnston Benchworks willow tree pillow, Pine Cone Gift Shoppe
Rectangular pillow, Olde Farm Creek
Kingston Jacquard afghan, The Painted Shelf
Sleigh, Piper Classics
Anna's Beauty woven table square, Fine Country Living Primitives
Paul Revere wax warmer, Starlight Prims
Wrought-iron candlestand with candle, Mountainberry Candles & Keepsakes
HUTCH AND SUCH
Pot with Flowers wool hooked wall hanging, The Bittersweet Vine
Handled bowl, Maple City Pottery
Grungy jar candle, Hawk Hill Country Collections
Star spirit jar, The Little Pottery Shop
CABIN THERE, DONE THAT
Wreath with bells, Piper Classics
Long candle sconce with wreath and candle, Dawn's Attic Treasures
Primitive tray, Farmhouse Furniture
Metal grain scoop with wood handle, Mountainberry Candles & Keepsakes
Burgundy courting candle with berries, Design a Wreath by Simply Country
Reindeer feedsack pillow, The Olde Country Cupboard
Debby Karl's antiques booth, The Laughing Cat Antiques Shop, 815-784-3000, www.laughingcatantiques.com.
Written by Elizabeth Preston Morrissey
Styled by Sally-Jo Enstad and Catherine Parker
Photographed by Maurice Victoria
Produced by Dennis Morgan