Browse through old Country-oriented shelter magazines and you'll see a lot of what designers used to call "duck and basket" decor: calico-print-filled rooms, Colonial furnishings, walls stenciled with flowers and ducks. It was a homey, well-loved style.
Now a new generation of home decorators and stylemakers is updating the look. Country Living magazine fills pages with bright colors, crisp graphic prints, tag-sale side tables and smart mid-century sofas. There are still great baskets, but nowadays the duck's more likely to be part of a hip new wallpaper.
Call it Modern Country or Farmhouse Chic — it's sparer and less cluttered than the old Country, but no less welcoming. It honors Country's homespun roots without sending us too literally back to the past.
Well-worn, often utilitarian elements from the farm house, barn and small-town store blend with contemporary furnishings and finishes, making it all look fresh and interesting.
Becky Cunningham, a home decorator near Shreveport, La., fell in love with vintage stuff during her first visit to a flea market in Canton, Texas. That's where she found an old cowboy's bathtub that now holds extra blankets in her bedroom.
The room's transformation, which includes snowy white paint, a chandelier and luxurious white bed linens, is chronicled on her blog, "Buckets of Burlap."
Rie Sterling of Apex, N.C., is another Modern Country blogger.
"One of the things I love about this style is how unpretentious it is," she says. "Nothing's too precious, which is ideal if you have children. It's hard to mess up something that's already chipped or faded."
Garage sales, flea markets and online sites are good sources for Country items, but you can also find newly made pieces that evoke the vibe.
Urbanites may not have ready access to vintage goods, but the look's easy to replicate with stuff from stores — Wisteria's iron cabinet bins and World Market's woven reed baskets make great storage; Ikea's got flat-woven, striped cotton rugs; Pottery Barn has antique glass pickling jars, wooden dough bowls and grain-sack throw pillows.
Repurposing is the watchword here: Put bath items in jars; magazines, towels or toys in tubs or wooden crates; and turn that great jam cupboard into a compact home office.