Romantic Prairie Style

The memories I have of my first childhood home - the home I was born into and lived in until I was 6 years-old - are shockingly clear. I can remember the exact layout of rooms, the garish colours of the carpets: chocolate brown in the living/dining room and a deep rust tone upstairs, plus a white shag rug in the front parlour. I remember well the old woven-grass roll-down blinds on the windows and the tubular chrome dining room light fixture with giant glass bulbs. That was the '70s for you!

Each decade leading up to the present day seems to have had its trademark decorating style. In the 1980s there was a love affair with French Country: frills and faux-finishes, opulent draperies and too many pastels. In the 1990s there was a push towards neoclassicism. Today, the interior design of the homes of many of my friends (and my own home) seems to be guided by a new kind of modernism that embraces light and space with the very definite desire to collect, cherish and display vintage objects that have personal meaning and a whimsical charm to them; they may be inherited pieces, or they may be ''new-old'' flea-market finds, but they are objects we cannot seem to part with.
After asking around a bit, and doing a bit of research, it seems this style has been labeled "Romantic Prairie Style" by the cognoscenti. Its more grown-up counterpart is called "Modern Farmhouse." There are books about it, too, which are now on my ever-growing list of books to read. Below, I've compiled an assortment of book titles that deal with this particular form of interior decorating style and laid out some of the style's trademarks:

Decorate by Holly Becker (whose blog I follow regularly) is one book I'm really excited about. It's released this spring. Flea Market Style is a book I've had for a few years and it's always a great source for how to pair new with old. Simple Home by Mark and Sally Bailey is another one that espouses the Romantic-Prairie ideal.Etcetera by Sibella Court is a gorgeous resource on how to live with the things you love in a way that is timelessly stylish and charming, filled with glorious photographs. Romatic Prairie Style is the book of wisdom for anyone attempting to create this style at home. Below are more books the Romatic-Prairie student may want to peruse: Modern Vintage Style by Emily Chalmers and Debi Treloar, Recycled Home by Mark and Sally Bailey and Creative Walls by Geraldine James is especially good.

*Bright rooms painted in light neutrals
*An appreciation of natural finishes, such as wood flooring
*Walls and windows kept mostly unadorned with carefully-selected artwork for maximum impact
*An appreciation of collections with a need to display them creatively
*A love of fine vintage - (not random junk but also not heavy antiques)
*Sparsely furnished rooms with pieces that have meaning and impact
*Embracing of patina and timeworn texture but also of clean lines and modern colours
*Unafraid of mixing patterns in small doses
*A love of the handmade and handcrafted


Julia said...

I have been trying to find a term to describe this style for ages! I always refer people to this site http://www.woodwoolstool.com/ to get an idea of the look. Thanks for the definition!


Cute site, Julia!

Anonymous said...

Great post Andrew!I'm a fan of this "new" decorating style, where it seems like people can finally think outside of the box and truly collect what they love.. modern, antique, whatever. Why weren't we doing that all along? I always like my rooms better when I've taken my time and let things happen a little more organically.-Renee

Anonymous said...

I like the term, "minimalist farmhouse" which I coined myself! ;)

Jennifer Rizzo said...

Fifi is coming to our sale to sign books in Chicago at Nada Farm in May. Many of the homeowners in the book are also going to be there... So come on out if you want to meet her! :)

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