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mirrored dresser
  • mirrored dresser

    Choosing classic pieces ensures they'll be at home in a variety of surroundings.

  • sofa

    A look that works in a city abode, can easily be customized for a country home. Photo: Jill Boothby

  • bed

    An iron bed can easily transition between city and country decorating schemes.

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An iron bed can easily transition between city and country decorating schemes.


Taking the Ducks Out of the "Country"

When you think country décor, do you imagine painted red hearts and whimsical ducks? If so, then your image of country is stuck in the '80s. Today's country means simplicity, clean lines and a palette of nature-based colors. Like contemporary design, the style evokes one's personal taste through an eclectic blend of diverse pieces, but with an emphasis on relaxing ambience and vintage appeal. Today’s country décor proves you don't need a friendly bonneted duck to say "Welcome."

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  • A Tale of Two Styles

    How the same classic furnishings can be used to create both city and country looks.

    by Susan L. Comer

    When it comes to home décor, urban edge and country charm seem miles apart. Turns out, they share some common ground. And whether you live in an uptown loft or a rural farmhouse—by choosing your pieces wisely, you can easily revamp a room from one style to the other. So if you’re not yet sure what style’s your signature, or you want the option to change down the road—here are some ideas that are at home in both city and country décor schemes.


    Evolving Style

    Your personal style is a work in progress, so your surroundings should be versatile enough to grow with you. For major purchases such as sofas and beds, that means simple lines and neutral tones. "It's so much easier to change the feel of the room without having to reinvest in that piece," explains Birmingham designer Jill Boothby.

    Classic skirted sofas transition well between country and urban décor schemes. For an urban feel, says Boothby, dot the sofa with a couple of bolster or round pillows in velvet or silk. In selecting colors, don't hesitate to pull a splash of hot pink or bold turquoise from a painting or vase in the room. "I use more modern abstract patterns in the fabrics," says Boothby, "and even incorporate unexpected textures such as leather, beaded, or animal-skin designs."  

    For a country look, soften the sofa with a variety of pillows in chintz or cotton. Mix patterns and colors to coordinate with your color scheme. For instance, try a textured solid fabric and a floral or bold stripe; then add a smaller print to tie them together. And choose warm warm, earthy tonesapple greens, harvest browns, wildflower blues and sunny yellows.


    Four Corners, Two Styles

    A square wood dining table is a timeless piece that goes from city to country and back. "It's new and edgy so it gives you that urban modern approach," says Boothby. "But the square shape provides a more casual approach if you use it in a casual setting."

    Painted, weathered finishes in creamy colors are very adaptable. And since chairs often help set the style of a dining set, Boothby recommends parson's chairs for versatility. Simply slip-cover them for a country setting or choose a more eclectic fabric for urban decor.


    One Bed, Two Looks

    In a bedroom, an iron canopy (in almost any frame or finish) makes the transition, says Boothby. It’s the linens that dictate the room’s style. For an urban look, consider an Egyptian-cotton duvet edged with a contrasting pattern or a coverlet with an intricate finish. Euro-shaped or bolster pillows provide a trendy touch.

    To give the bed the feel of a country retreat, use a quilted down comforter in florals, plaids, or patchwork; then toss on a plethora of indulgent pillows.


    Dual-Purpose Pieces

    Other versatile furnishings that work well for both urban and country decors, says Boothby, include: 

    • Classic wooden chairs (e.g., Chippendale)
    • Rattan pieces
    • Painted bookcases and chests
    • Upholstered ottomans
    • Linen drapes and sisal rugs
    • Glass and ceramic lamps


    City and country, then, aren't really so far apart. By selecting your home furnishings with an eye toward versatility, you can change the scenery as often as you like.