Decorate with Crafts

Counting Sheep

Woolly textures and fleecy figures inspire our stylist to put a cozy spin on a great room that chases away winter’s chill.

Living in an old farmhouse had its charms, but even after remodeling the structure, Leslie and Brad Dues still had to contend with old-house issues, including sloping, uneven floors that made furnishing and decorating it a challenge. A little more than two years ago, the couple decided to build a new ranch-style home in Portland, Indiana, but they wanted to be sure it would blend the vintage character of their previous home with practical living space for them and their two children, ages 12 and 15.

To accomplish this, Leslie special-ordered five-panel doors; selected wide, old-fashioned trim; and installed textured laminate flooring with a distressed appearance. “It’s a new home, but it still feels like an old house,” she explains.

A longtime fan of primitives and crocks, Leslie traces her interest in collecting back to antiquing with her grandfather. Though she didn’t keep a lot of his things, she’s since made up for that with trips to local flea markets and antiques shops. She’s also found a few pieces online. Among her favorites are bee-sting crocks, some of which she has displayed in her great room, which is decorated in warm, rich hues that help her weathered primitive furnishings stand out.

Country Sampler stylist René Haines helped Leslie bring added warmth to her great room, making it an even more inviting space to while away the hours on a wintry day. Read on to discover 15 delightful decorating ideas sure to fill your rooms with charm and cheer.


1. Wee wonder. Draw attention to a little folk-art sheep figure by elevating it on a primitive-style key box topped with a small mat stitched from felt to resemble the larger penny-style mat on the table below.
2. Glow for it. Give your vignette a cozy ambience with a sweetly scented candle and a bobbin lamp with a punched-metal shade. Expand the footprint of the lamp with a wood riser and a berry candle ring that echoes the shape of a pine and berry wreath in the background.
3. Sew sweet. Play up a stitchery theme by including a bundle of bobbins tied together with a strip of country-style fabric and positioning a miniature basket filled with spools of thread alongside the sheep figure.


4. Decorative notions. Surround a candlestick-style lamp base with fiber-covered bobbins and secure them in place with hot glue and jute string ties. Bulking up the base gives the lamp greater presence.
5. Round up. Boost a lamp or other decorative element on top of a cheese box or other round box and complement it with similarly shaped accessories, such as a set of stacking boxes or a wire mesh votive holder. Tuck some faux greens around the lamp base (we used lamb’s ears) to provide color and texture.
6. See the signs. Select a graphic sign that coordinates with the sheep motif and imparts a welcoming appeal, or make your own folksy artwork using a remnant from a wool sweater. Cut a sheep body shape from an ivory-colored sweater and cut small pieces of black felt to fashion the face, ear and legs. Glue the pieces to a section of burlap cloth wrapped around foam core board cut to fit within a black frame.
7. Making connections. Link items on a tabletop with a quilted runner that picks up many of the varied hues on display. To tie nearby furnishings in with your grouping, drape a similarly colored throw over a sofa back and fill in underneath the sofa table with examples from an antique crock collection that is showcased on shelves, in cupboards and elsewhere throughout the room.


8. Best fleece forward. Construct a cute table runner from wool felt. Use cream-colored felt for the base, charcoal gray, tan and white felt for the sheep bodies, and black felt for the sheep faces, ears and legs. Let the size of your table determine the size of your runner, and create the desired number of sheep for each end. (We made three figures for each end; drawings of sheep silhouettes are readily available on the internet.) Use fabric glue to attach the sheep, and finish the ends of the runner with a blanket stitch in black embroidery floss. Round out the flock and protect your finished piece with coordinating jute coasters.
9. Playful pillows. Cozy up the couch with appropriate accent pillows—one with ruffled edges and featuring a stitched sheep in a starring role and the other fashioned from an inexpensive thrift-store sweater paired with a coordinating backing fabric.
10. Bountiful bowl. Pile up pinecones in a large wooden bowl, placing them around a sheep-adorned candle sleeve that is propped on a small box. For a snow-dusted look, wrap some of the pinecones with white wool roving.
11. Artful embellishments. Take advantage of the blank space on the back of a rustic trunk-style coffee table to display a similarly finished sign and a dimensional metal star. Create a handy chair-side craft center by repurposing a tiered fruit and vegetable stand as storage for tools and materials.


12. Pocket full of posies. Turn the sleeve of an old sweater into a cute hanging pocket for dried or faux blooms. Turn the sleeve inside out and sew one end closed. Turn back to the right side and cover the raw edge at the top with ribbon and attach a jute twine handle. Fill with flowers and berries and hang to brighten a dark cupboard door. An electric candle and candleholder wrapped with pip berries links the piece to the grouping on the dry sink below it.
13. Little lamb. Use another part of the sweater sleeve to handcraft a plump stuffed sheep with a black wool felt face and ears. The body and face of this cute little creature can be sewn easily by hand or with a machine. Prop this stand-alone fellow on a shelf near a piece of artwork with a pastoral theme. Carry the look to the floor with a coordinating hooked-wool rug. “The sheep is a traditional country icon, and when I found a wool sweater at a thrift store for just $3.99, it seemed like a great concept for giving a room a cozy winter makeover,” René explains of her design inspiration.
14. Rack ’em up. Reimagine a wrought-iron wall rack intended to hold bathroom towels as a decorative holder for a collection of antique bobbins. Display the bobbins bare or wrap them with fibers that coordinate with the colors in your decor. Further set the scene by filling a trencher with balls of wool roving and showcasing a small spinning wheel on the floor nearby.
15. Fuzzy foliage. Provide a final soft touch to a vignette by placing a few velvety lamb’s ear floral picks in a small crock.

Little sheep, Pine Cone Gift Shoppe
Key box, Allyson’s Place
Bobbin lamp, Mountainberry Candles & Keepsakes
Buttercream Vanilla candle, Black Crow Candle Co.
Cypress pine and ivory berry sunburst wreath, Design a Wreath by Simply Country Sampler

Mustard Saltbox and Sheep primitive oval stacking box set, Gainers Creek Crafts
Wire mesh and glass votive holder, Geneva Country Store
Cody Lone Star quilted table runner, Retro Barn Country Linens
Farmhouse throw, The 13th Colony, LLC
The Wooly Inn sign, Pine Cone Gift Shoppe

Baa Baa Blessings pillow and sheep coasters, Allyson’s Place
Sheep candle sleeve, Country Village Shop

Scroll bath towel holder, Primitive Home Decors
She Collects Flax primitive sign, Impressions on Market
Electric candle light, The 13th Colony, LLC
Willow Sheep rug, Allyson’s Place

Written by Lisa Sloan
Photographed by Scott Campbell
Styled by René Haines