The interior rustic pictures on this page tell a story of lives more than a century ago,
in a world that still exists.
(Pick up some mountain cabin decorating tips & handmade primitive decor ideas along the way!)
The photos of primitive rustic country decor on this page were taken in Ballenberg, Switzerland - a beautifully preserved collection of historic rural houses from all across the Swiss Alps, and a wonderful place to study the rustic cabin interiors and decorating styles of original Alpine homes.
The first of my interior rustic pictures shows the inside of an Alphütte ...
... that's a small log cabin high up in the summer pastures.
A team of men lived here every summer, herding the cattle and making butter and cheese. They carved their initials into the walls of their summer home - 19th-century alpine graffiti!
(There wasn't much need - or spare time - for mountain cabin decorating. Still, you'll find several great country interior decorating ideas hidden in this humble abode!)
Some of the men returned for several summers, and one of them was "D.S." I can't include his photograph here with my interior rustic pictures; but he did cut his signature, DS.1818.104.22.168., into the cabin wall.
What did D.S. look like? He must have been young and strong enough for the hard work in rugged and steep terrain, way up in the mountains, with sudden snowstorms threatening men and animals.
Even though we don't have a photo of D.S., I'm convinced there actually is an image of him among the pictures in one of the houses at Ballenberg ;-)
I have it that he's the man at the top of the herd as they make their way to the Alpine meadows in early summer. (This is always a festive occasion - the chief cow carries a massive cowbell on a beautifully decorated leather strap as she leads the herd to their summer pastures.)
D.S., the guy with the beard and the red woollen hat (no need to shave when there's no womenfolk around - women were considered bad luck on the Alp) - note how he's carrying just a small bag: he'll need a change of shirts, a sweater, some woollen socks, that's all.
One of the men will have to go down to the valley once a week, taking fresh produce down on a wooden sled (or rather, trying to stop the sled from taking a wild ride down without him). On the way back, he'll bring next week's supplies up from the valley floor.
You can't really call a papercut like the one to the left primitive rustic country decor; these silhouettes are sophisticated, stylish pieces of folk art.
The one you see here is a print from Ballenberg, but you can find similar pieces throughout the whole Alpine region, particularly the West.
Paper cuts, usually in a black-on-white or black-on-cream color scheme, are also extremely popular for French mountain cabin decorating and fit seamlessly into the 'French Alpine' red-gray-white-brown color palette.
Favored themes & motifs for mountain cabin decorating:
Make your own ...
... or, if you don't have the time, just copy a few designs and display them in rustic photo frames. That's easy primitive rustic country decor!
The next of our interior rustic pictures shows what might well have been D.S.'s bed in the Alpine log cabin.
There's room for a pull-out bed underneath to save space - an important feature in the rustic interior design of Alpine huts.
The cabin interior even contains D.S.'s shirt, and the petroleum lamp he lights every night ;-)
The next morning, as every day, the men will wake up to the sound of the cowbells, and to the song of larks, and the wind.
They will stay on the Alp until the fall, and if all the animals and men are still alive by the end of that stay (!!!), the cows will be lavishly decorated with flowers for a splendid homecoming procession back to the valley ("Alpabzug"). This is a big, festive occasion for the whole village, with music and dance ... and nowadays it also includes large tourist crowds :-)
A few make wonderfully atmospheric yet primitive rustic country decor. The ones you can hang on a wall would be great for mountain cabin decorating as they're slightly more fire safe.
Since we have no interior rustic pictures of D.S.'s life down in the valley, we're left to wonder what he got up to in 1886, after his last summer on the Alp.
Did he have to work for daily wages, or was he in steady employment with one of the farmers, and lived on the farm?
Was he among the farmhands who would gather in the living room on a winter night, sitting on a bench around the big tiled oven to warm themselves?
Did he ever make enough money to build his own house and start a family?
If so, he may have had a small kitchen-cum-living room like the one pictured here. It's in the typical interior rustic style of small Alpine homes - the walls are thick, the ceilings low and the windows tiny, to keep the heat inside and firewood expenses low.
The facilities inside the house will have been similar to the rustic cabin interior on the mountain. Maybe the family had a few goats (the 'poor man's cows'), and a small cottage garden where the family would grow much of their food, framed by a colorful flower border along the fence.
For some quick & easy rustic country style decor, collect a variety of foliage and add just a few 'roadside' flowers!
What we call 'weeds' often makes for lovely country style bouquets - and leafy twigs can provide some bulk if needed.
Mrs S., D.'s wife, will have put many of these bouquets together in her lifetime!
Speaking of D. ...
I'm sure there are records in his village that show who D.S. was. I doubt, though, that we would find pictures of his family home - farm workers' cottages were rarely thought worth preserving. But who knows?