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In many ways, what we consider to be rural or country decorating styles are in fact the product of high street retailers. They have rather unimaginatively taken 19th Century ideas of country living and created a popular image accordingly. However, what this mass produced imagery might have in common with true rural homes is something to be debated. Add to this, the styles and themes of country interior design varies from country to country and what can be seen in North America might be noticeably different to Swedish or French rural décor schemes.

Country interiors that are successful often have an organic ambiance about them. By organic I don’t mean piles of fruit or vegetables stacked in a corner but rather a natural growth of possessions and collected objects that seems random and rather akin to the way flowers grow outside in places you do not always plan. There is a pervasive quality to the rural interior theme which makes the designs timeless. For a true country interior, regardless of locational style, this haphazard feel needs to be nurtured and encouraged.

This is not always easy to do. The homogeneity is based upon a number of equally important factors. These include a roughness of finish, simplicity and the colors chosen which should depend heavily on subtle choices of earthly hues. When it comes to the finish of walls and furniture, there are a variety of techniques that can be employed to render a surface looking older than it really is. Distressed paintwork techniques can be used on wooden chairs and stairs, whilst painted walls can be weathered through various means.

As well as this, the colors and pigments used in the country room themes should ideally be influenced by the surrounding landscape. A home in a chalk region might mimic the whites and light grays of the local area while forest regions could go for more brown and green combinations. Farm houses surrounded by wheat fields have the rich yellows, greens and early browns to play with. Wall stencils, perhaps portraying country life, that look as though they have been drawn freehand are ideal additions.

Surfaces of objects and decorative art should reflect the rural theme. Marble will not suit the style and will not be an honest representation of true rural living. Terracotta and rough pitted glazes work well as do a large variety of fabrics and raw materials. Raw being the important word. This doesn’t mean there should not be beautiful colors and patterns, far from it. Stencilled fabrics can be used to great effect if it looks home-made and inspired by nature and traditional country decorating.

The final touch is to bring the outdoors, indoors. Bowls of fruit, nuts, baskets of vegetables, hanging plants, dried branches and canes will all make wonderful additions to a country interior and will be a treat to the senses. Having a cat helps too.