Design Hints

Basically Beautiful

Learn how to make any home -- no matter its age or design—a welcoming country abode with these fundamental decorating techniques.

Regardless of age, design or dimensions, any house can become the ideal canvas for country accoutrements. To turn her ordinary Winchester, Kentucky, rental into a fresh-from-the-country cottage, Denise relied on the following five fundamentals of decorating:

1. Material Things:
Add flair to your decor with fabrics featuring pretty patterns. Denise places pillows, many of which have been sewn from tea towels, everywhere to plump up her primitive style. When she's on the hunt for antiques, she keeps an eye out for less-than-perfect fabric remnants to repurpose as pillow covers or to stack in baskets. And, when shopping for curtains or bedding, she buys extra yardage of coordinating material so she'll have it on hand when needed for projects.

2. Americana Graffiti: If you're not ready to take on repainting an entire room, dress up white walls with some delicate designs. "If you want to decorate on a budget, stenciling is the best thing in the world to do," says Denise, who advocates using neutral colors and simple motifs to give walls a kick, as she did in her living room and dining area. For a touch of patriotic pizzazz in the kitchen, she stenciled tan stars and a checkerboard pattern on the backsplash.

3. Simply De-Vine:
Affordable and easy to find, grapevine wreaths contribute rustic texture to walls, doors and more. "Wreaths are a staple for me," Denise says. She tends to keep hers plain and simple, but entwined vines can be a perfect blank canvas for add-ons of berries, flowers and more, which can change the look with the season or to suit a mood.

4. Vote-in the Primaries:
Nothing adds life to a country room like primary colors in rustic shades. Denise spreads splashes of red, blue and mustard throughout the home to unify her decor. The bold hues, which can be found anywhere from bedding and window treatments to rugs and wall art, contrast with the white walls and her wood-toned furnishings.

5. Patience Makes Perfect:
Rome wasn't built in a day, and neither was the cohesive style of Denise's countrified cottage. "You don't have to decorate all at once," she says. "I just added piece by piece as I found things that I loved, and it just somehow comes together." If you find something that's out of your price range, she adds, always ask a dealer if he or she will agree to put a piece on layaway. "Don't give up on your dream!"

Written by Veda Eddy
Photographed and Styled by Franklin & Esther Schmidt