Country Décor Inspiration: Folk Art

July 15th, 2013 Country Home Decor

Primitive_SwansCountry décor has its roots in American folk art, which in comparison to “high art” or “fine art”, tends to serve utilitarian and decorative purposes, as opposed to being purely aesthetic. Folk Art is characterized by a naive style, in which traditional rules of proportion and perspective are not necessarily utilized.

Typically produced by an indigenous culture or by peasants or other laboring tradespeople, folk art is specific to its particular culture and varies geographically, thus makes it difficult to describe as a whole. What is universal to folk art (and the country décor that it inspires) however, is that it is created by men and women outside the confines of the art academy and thus resonates with the aspirations of everyday life of “common folk”.

Folk art, as well as the country décor, is powerfully genuine, creatively utilitarian and always compelling.

Barn_SignObjects such as furniture and household objects, often painted, carved with embellishments, or repurposed in some fashion, served a utilitarian function − for example, as protection of the wood surface or as a source of information (as in the case of a decorative sign). These adornments reflected the cultural beliefs, current trends, and availability of materials for the artists. The art (and subsequent the country décor that it continues to inspire to this day), demonstrated the creative impulses of the artisans and elevated mundane objects into works of art.

The idea of utility is often associated with traditional primitive and country décor forms. Twentieth- and twenty-first-century works continue to demonstrate the endurance of utility as an impulse for creative expression. Decorative signs, baskets, bowls and pitchers, and even candle holders and wall sconces, all serve the traditional art-as-a-function purpose and is as popular a design element in today’s modern American home as it has ever been.

Worn furniture with a gentle patina, the incorporation of traditional fabrics, designed textiles, decorative elements (such as paint and tromp l’eoil), and re-purposed features (such as mason jars, industrial cabinetry, and architectural items such as shutters and window panes) are the hallmark of country and primitive home décor. With its rich history, married to prevailing nostalgic decorating trends, country and primitive home décor is sure to enjoy prominence long into the foreseeable future.