From pioneer romance novels to linen prairie dresses, pioneer culture is all the rage right now.
Maybe it's because we're nostalgic for a simpler time in history. Whatever the reason, primitive style is a top trend for interior decorators everywhere.
"Primitive" interior style — a form of rustic style that includes homestead, cottage, Amish, and pioneer inspiration — encompasses the tough-but-sweet rustic spirit of the early American pioneers.
Do you want to bring primitive decor into your own home? Keep reading. In this guide, we'll break down 5 key features of this beautiful yet simple style.
1. Old World Americana
Primitive decor stems from life in early 1800s America. To understand what the style is really about, let's look at a little history.
In the early 1800s, the Regency Era was in full swing in England (think Pride and Prejudice, frilly ball gowns, and delicate china teacups). But life in America was radically different. With pioneers setting out across the wide landscape of America, pioneer life was a story of adventure and survival.
In these tough conditions, pioneers fought to survive, but they managed to thrive as well. Their folk art, crafts, and traditions have a simple homespun beauty of their own. That beauty is the basis of today's primitive decor.
So how can you bring that feeling of warmth and simplicity into your 21st century home?
Start with any elements that reflect pioneer, 1800s Americana life, like:
- Candles and lanterns
- Cast iron pots and pans
- Wooden signs and wall decor
- Hooked rugs
- Game boards
- Bare wood wall paneling
- "Fixins" or potpourri jars
- Table runners and cloth napkins
All of these elements evoke the homey vibes that pioneer life offered. Oh, and if you're worried about having real candles in your home, just go for a primitive faux candle display instead.
2. By-Hand Aesthetic
Handmade crafts are an important element of primitive decor. The made-by-hand aesthetic evokes the time when homesteaders made almost everything themselves, from bedding to furniture.
Here are some key ways to bring that handcrafted element into your home.
If you're decorating with primitive style, what should you put on the walls?
Nothing says "primitive" like Americana's unique folk art. Look for rough paintings, wood carvings, and simple wall hangings. Hand-stitched embroidery and simple canvas prints are staples of this style too.
To add another dimension to your decor, look for handmade or rustic dolls, including rag dolls, corncob dolls, and wood-carved dolls. They should have pioneer dresses and clothes to complement their rustic charm.
Quilts are the quintessential primitive decor element. They're a tangible reminder of the days when mothers and grandmothers spent hours working on a beautiful but functional gift for their family. Quilts are a must for achieving the warm handmade vibe of primitive style.
Quilts look spectacular draped over a wood-carved or vintage spool bed. But don't just limit yourself to keeping them on your bed — bring quilts into all the rooms of your house. Toss a quilt over the back of an easy chair, or add a quilted table runner to your kitchen table.
Farmhouse style furniture is a centerpiece of primitive decor. Amish-made furniture is a perfect fit for primitive style: it's sturdy and functional, but beautiful as well.
If you want primitive style furniture, look for benches, chairs, bed frames, and bookcases that are simple but strong. Authentic Amish furniture doesn't have many frills, but its quality craftsmanship speaks for itself.
Try sourcing authentic handcrafted furniture to find pieces that are as well-made as they are beautiful.
3. Gingham Prints
You can't achieve that pioneer-style decor without plenty of gingham and checked print.
Wondering where to start bringing these fabrics into your home? Here are a few ideas:
- Kitchen curtains
- Throw pillows
- Furniture cushions
- Dishcloths and dishtowels
- Table linens
- Slipcovers for couches and chairs
To avoid clashing patterns, use other rustic-looking fabrics alongside your gingham prints. Burlap, undyed wool, and off-white cotton will all keep the farmhouse theme going without overdoing the gingham theme.
To take the farmhouse style to the next level, be sure to find curtains and coverings in natural fibers like cotton and wool. This lends an authentic texture to your primitive decor.
4. Farmhouse Touches
Primitive style comes from the farming life of early pioneers, so it fits hand-in-glove with farmhouse decor.
Make sure you incorporate those living-on-the-land vibes in your own home with farmhouse-themed touches:
- Antique milk pails and jugs
- Mason jars
- Farm animal-inspired figurines
- Wagon wheels
- Woven baskets
- Braided rugs
Don't forget to put a basket of fresh fruit on your table to add an authentic farming touch.
5. Antique But Approachable
The essence of primitive style is a worn-in, well-loved feeling.
That means that even though your house will be full of gorgeous antique pieces, it should never feel like a museum of things you can't touch. Primitive style lets you create a home where you can experience the warm simplicity of pioneer-type living, instead of just admiring its appearance.
So how can you achieve this lived-in feeling in your primitive home?
Authentic antiques from the pioneer period can add a nice touch to some rooms, but since they won't stand up to everyday use. They'll leave you scolding your little ones for touching the fragile decorations.
Use a few authentic antiques for accent pieces, but focus on sourcing antique-inspired pieces that you can use with confidence. They will have the right look to bring the coziness of pioneer decorating to your home, but you won't spend all your time worrying if they're about to break.
In the end, you want your home to feel as authentic as it looks. Buying pieces that look old but are newly made is the best way to achieve that.
Primitive Decor Made Easy
Primitive decor doesn't have to be complicated. With this guide, you'll be able to transform your home into a homestead haven with primitive decor.
Looking for a reliable place to source your primitive decor and furniture? Check out our wide selection of primitive and farmhouse decor.