Decorate with Crafts

West Meets Midwest

A native Montanan infuses her suburban Illinois home with Western-influenced decor and then asks the Country Sampler stylists to help decorate her basement family room for autumn.

Born and raised in eastern Montana, real estate agent Cynthia Cherry-Schif moved to Chicago in her 20s to experience living in a big city. Despite the relocation, however, she has always held onto pieces of her rural past, especially when it comes to decorating. Now settled in Campton Hills, Illinois, with her husband, Mike Schif, she enjoys the best of both worlds. "It's a nice blend of city and country living here," she says of the suburban township on the edge of farm country. "My horse lives just down the road."
An antiques enthusiast who has spent many vacations at her family's Montana ranch, Cynthia gathered plenty of Western-themed items to showcase in her home. "We're good at taking what nobody wants and doing something special with it," she says of the design partnership she and Mike share. The farm-fresh goods provide particular panache in the lodge-like basement family room that Mike finished himself with a little help from his dad. From a milk pail stocked with branding irons to a former chicken coop window turned into wall art, reminders of the ranch fit in perfectly with the stone fireplace, rustic wood flooring and ceiling beams.
Those warm-toned natural elements also set a beautiful stage for fall decor. This year, Cynthia welcomed Country Sampler stylists Sally-Jo Enstad, Debbie Plantery and Nancy Borsodi to share their advice for spreading seasonal style in the downstairs space. "We love her woodsy look, so we wanted to help give it a cozy autumn feel," Sally-Jo says. Read on for 16 more harvest-ready decorating ideas!

Small World
1. Go miniature. No matter the style of your home, you can always feel like you're relaxing in a rustic retreat when you create a tableau around a model-size house or cabin. Here, the stylists placed a stone farmhouse in a handmade bark tray and set it on a just-the-right-size table that Mike built from a tree slice. 2. Plant some natural accents. Continue a woodsy, natural theme by spreading some moss inside the tray. For a departure from traditional miniature trees, rest pinecones inside weathered pots and arrange them on the mossy "lawn." Set a larger pinecone behind the scene for additional texture and to fill out any empty areas on the tabletop.

Seating Arrangements
3. Enhance a neutral scene. The basement family room's soft yellow chair and ottoman, stone hearth and wood accent furniture provide a wonderful backdrop for any season's decor. "We added orange, green and black accents that really pop against the lighter furnishings in the space, " Debbie says. 4. Button up. To create a fitting companion for the crow-and-pumpkin hooked pillow on the chair, Debbie glued assorted buttons to a plain pillow cover. 5. Find a new angle. When it's not used as a footrest, the ottoman offers additional decorating real estate -- this multilayered display features a trencher resting at an angle on a galvanized tray full of faux fall fare. 6. Be a little corny. Bringing more autumn texture to the ottoman arrangement, dried corn surrounds an overturned wood bowl holding up a candle. Similarly, Indian corn adorns a corn dryer and a trio of stacking boxes resting on the hearth. 7. Get your shelf some help. Whether it's a cool built-in like Cynthia's or an empty length of bookcase or tabletop, a shelf below an expanse of wall is just asking to host special decor. Vary the scale of your accessories: Here, a ribbon-adorned pitcher full of dried grasses and flowers and a barn door sporting a clock contrast a framed print and a pair of lanterns.

Barn Star
8. Do fence me in. Capture the spirit of life on the ranch by showcasing wall art crafted from salvaged farm materials. For example, Mike backed a chicken coop window with old barnwood; each pane frames a horseshoe, and a multitoned wood star adds dimension on the front. 9. Call for backup. For a similar look, simply prop up a set of shutters behind a display, as the stylists did here. "The dark red shutters really set off the vintage crate, which is filled with pumpkins, pinecones and a crow perched on a wood slice," Sally-Jo says, also noting that the rag rug near the stairs repeats the crate arrangement's palette. 10. Shop in your closet. Sometimes you don't have to look any further than your own wardrobe for decor: Cynthia's boots and cowboy hats provide Western attitude to this scene. The hats hang on a handcrafted display piece adorned with a bittersweet swag and wreath. 11. Look for signs. Fill out a wall with a sign that fits your theme, such as this campfire-inspired placard.

Simply Wonderful
12. Take up space. If the back of a sofa is exposed to the room, don't let the decorating area go to waste: Bring in a table, stool or other piece, such as this rustic sofa table, as the starting point of a display. Draw the eye from that point around the room with coordinating accents; try a quilted pillow on a chair or a painted sign on a mantel. 13. Circle up. Enhance the base of a lantern by placing it inside a wreath and nestling in colorful gourds and miniature pumpkins. 14. Have some swagger. Swag gauzy keeping cloths over the table for soft contrast, knotting and twisting them creatively. 15 Crow about it. Feather your nest with one of fall's favorite icons by attaching fabric crows to the wreath and the lantern's frame or handle. 16. Clay the field. To embellish a prim-inspired flameless candle, boost it on a terra-cotta pot filled with moss. "The two candles in pots are similar to the one inside the lantern, but we treated them a little differently for more visual interest," Nancy says.

For more information, visit our Craft Fair online.

Lighted stone farmhouse, Country Store of Geneva

"Old Country Road" print and Luminara candle with rusty star, Homespun Blessings
Burlap clock, Country Mischief
Tall onion lamp, Heart-N-Hand
Simple Pleasures nesting boxes, BJ's Country Charm
Southern trencher with bark sides, Country Creations
Crow on Pumpkin hooked pillow, Williamsburg House, WI

Wood barn star, Illuminative Harvest
Weathered barn red beadboard shutters, SA Shutter Mill
Bittersweet twig wreath and hanging bundle, The Red Brick Cottage
Large iron crow, Heart-N-Hand
Crocheted rag rug, Rags to Rugs by Lora
Welcome to Our Campfire sign, A Little Whimsy

Medium steeple lantern and primitive flameless candles, The Red Brick Cottage
Fabric Cranky Crows, BJ's Country Charm
Star keeping cloths, Glory Days Mercantile
Black Horse Tavern sign, Pine Cone Gift Shoppe
Autumn Splendor throw pillow, Choices Quilts

Written by Elizabeth Preston Morrissey
Photographed by Maurice Victoria
Styled by Sally-Jo Enstad, Nancy Borsodi & Debbie Plantery