If your house lacks the architectural character of a country cottage, you can add character in a number of ways. Installing rustic tongue and groove boards to a ceiling in a kitchen or bathroom, or dividing an open plan area with faux beam/beams. Rustic shutters used decoratively can also work well. Tongue and groove or bead board panels to walls, will speak country. Personally I prefer country interiors to be kept light and fresh in appearance. This can be achieved by using light wall colours such as soft whites, and keeping your furniture neutral in whites, beige or taupe.
Sorry to those folks out there that love 'Shabby chic', but it is no longer 'chic', so don't clutter your space. If you have to use colour then introduce decorative items such as cushions and rugs. Personally, the easiest country space to live in is neutral with lots of layering and textures. Finishing touches can be as simple as a bunch of wild flowers from the roadside or traditional earthenware filled with lavender.
Of course 'country' can depict many styles, French, English, Farmhouse etc. For example; creating an English country style, may mean the addition of floral or plaid/checks and mixing textures such as velvet, cotton and linen. A Farmhouse appeal may be a little more rustic, soft white walls, displays of cream-ware, rustic floorboards and simple milk jugs of flowers. Research your style, use Pinterest to collect images of what appeals to you, put together a mood board and you will be well on your way to creating a country look you can live with.
Country... think, rustic, stone, wrought iron, weathered wood, rattan, sisal, linen - natural materials and colours of nature. Don't over use any one material, create a balance. Juxtapose materials that speak 'country living'. You want your space to feel welcoming - neither cluttered nor minimalist. And, remember you don't need to live in the country to create this look.
2. Above: The addition of lime washed beams add a country feel to a beautiful Italian style villa in the suburbs of Auckland. The furniture and finishing touches such as the olive jars, fresh flowers and rustic lighting help create a country ambiance. I was lucky enough to visit this house in the NZ House and Garden tour earlier this year, Interior Designer, Irene Crean, used the exterior architecture of her Mediterranean style home as inspiration for her interior. If you would like to see more images of this fabulous home, please visit NZ House & Garden, I am sure you will be as charmed as I was.
3. Above: In my home office, I hung an antique, French Shutter for a touch of 'French' country. The rustic pot of baby tears, adds further charm.
4. Above: This open plan dining/living area has a farmhouse, country appeal. Weathered wood is mixed with rattan and linen. Bunches of lavender add a French touch. The rustic ceiling and beams are what give this room an instant country look.
5. Above: A single rustic beam can add character, especially on a low ceiling
6. Above: Painting the floors white and white washing the beamed ceilings, speaks, 'farmhouse' country. The table is a typical farmhouse style with turned legs, and the chairs are farmhouse style.
7. A relaxed, white space that needs only flowers to add a touch of colour
8. Above: English country style with a mix of pattern - Interior Design by Hollister Hovey
9. Above: A country style kitchen/dining area with all the essential ingredients: Rustic beams, wood, stone, linen, iron and most definitely... country charm!