Country Decorating & Rustic Interior Design:
European Country Home 101

country decorating: rustic ceramic jugs on a Swiss tiled oven

Country decorating has been a favorite style of interiors in the Western world for at least 100 years. (And in the Old World, that's not very long at all!)

I've visited European country homes to take country kitchen design photos & pictures of country interior decorating ideas for rustic windows, country bedroom decor, country bathroom designs and antique mountain cabin decorating (the full list of country home decorating ideas is at the bottom of this page!

I've also asked a few designers from around Europe for rustic decorating ideas from their  home countries.

So this page is about Old World style decorating with an authentic, rustic twist: country style design ideas you can re-create in country cottages and skyscraper apartments.

European Country Decorating: Distinct & Recognisable

In Europe, traditional rustic homes come in distinct shapes and styles.

You go 'a mile up the road', or just across the border, and you can immediately tell where you are by looking at the farmhouses and cottages.

Just compare the page about Swiss rustic decorating ideas to the home decor pictures from its neighbor, France. Or to country home decorating ideas from Tuscany - Tuscan and French country home decorating are occasionally mistaken for each other, but you'll see how different they really are.

So on the one hand, there are many differences between, say, the decorating colors in a Gustavian style home and an Italian country cottage, or the furniture in a Provençal bastide  and a traditional Swiss chalet.

On the other hand, there are lots of common design features between all these rustic interior design styles. (Here's a style library I've put together for you; all these books have been rated "good" or "excellent" by Amazon readers.)

Common Features in Rustic Interior Design

rustic metal containers

1. Natural materials are key:

  • wood
  • stone
  • earthenware
  • non-precious  metals (iron, copper, pewter)

2. Everything is well taken care of, but it is also well-used and will typically have the soft lines - and scrubbed surface - to prove it.

3. Country decorating colors used to be made with natural pigments or dyes, and look more 'muted' and mellow than industrially produced colors. You won't find highly saturated color (or shiny fabrics, for that matter) on things that are for everyday use.

4. Textiles (linen, cotton, wool) are often homespun, and woven in simple patterns (stripes or checks). Silks are only for very festive occasions.

5. Embroidery can be sophisticated and intricate for special pieces, like bed spreads or tablecloths.

6. Tools are often quite beautiful, and hang on the wall ready for use.

7. Nothing fancy. Rustic decorating is not about showing off, it's about useability. (Of course, if there's a Meissen plate in the household, it really should be exhibited center stage, on a plate rack or the armoire in the living room. But the odds are there won't be anything really dainty in the house.)

That was a quick overview; for more details and a lot more pictures, have a look at the creative country style decorating ideas in the links below (includes an article about getting the country look in the city, as well as tips for country decorating (and Rustic French  decor on a shoestring)!

Country Home Decorating Ideas

rustic textiles in the Ticino

If you're lucky enough to own a farm house or a chalet that's a few hundred years old, you have some wonderful country decorating choices:

a) Fill it with as much original, antique furniture as you can lay your hands on, or ...

b) Create the greatest possible contrast through contemporary furnishings and appliances, or ...

c) Mix old and modern furniture into a harmonious composition, or ...

d) Decorate your home with beautiful things from all over the world - art, textiles, antique pieces, all displayed against the backdrop of a deeply provincial, rustic style home.

Now, chances are that your home isn't  an old farm house ... in which case you could have a lot of fun creating your personal  country decorating style! (Check out the country decorating ideas for living room / bedroom / sofa / kitchen etc. below!)

How do you create your personal rustic interior design style?

Use inspiration wherever you find it: your own country, or other parts of the world. Take what you love and develop your own, quirky or romantic take on primitive/rustic country decor.

Check out the articles below for more rustic decorating ideas; you're bound to find loads of useful tips for your next country decorating project. Also, you may want to have a look at this country decorating magazine collection (most of them from Europe) - use some of these hard-to-get rustic decorating ideas from other parts of the world to give your own cottage country decor a certain je ne sais quoi!

  • Overview:  All the rustic Decorating Ideas you'll find on this site!
  • Find rustic interior design ideas for a country style Living Room, choose the perfect country style Sofa or get creative with your country Bedroom - even make your own, cheap rustic furniture.
  • Get the look: Country Style Decorating and primitive rustic decor for city folk!
  • Don't spend all your pocket money on country style accessories ... create the rustic look On A Shoestring. (Try Frugal French ideas as well ;-)
  • Rustic interior design needs the right Country Window Treatments - have a look at Tuscan and French Country curtains, too (for additional inspiration).
  • Check out country decorating ideas from Switzerland,   Sweden,   France/Provence,  and  Italy/Tuscany.
  • Interior Rustic Pictures: The pictures on this page tell a story of lives more than a century ago, in a world that still exists.  (Plus:  Alpine mountain cabin decorating ideas.)
  • Neutral Color Schemes - The Book:
    Learn about using neutral color palettes with your country decorating style.   Understand what makes neutral color schemes look their best, and what happens when you inject 'real' color into neutral color palettes.   It's FREE!!

Try giving your country decorating style a different flavor with Candi Randolph's Cottage Decorating tips!

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