Design Hints

Turn Contemporary into Country

Learn how to overcome style differences when implementing a primitive look in a newer home that was built with a more modern design.

Design Hints

James and Khristopher Eberhardts' dream house is a historic post-and-beam saltbox, common in New England states, but their Goodyear, Arizona, choices were limited to stucco facades and Southwestern flourishes in conventional-looking subdivisions. How do you redo a ranch in the desert into a prim charmer? I try to mimic a post-and-beam type look but accentuate some of the angles of the room, James explains. Explore some examples from their living room to help you begin:

* Use What You Have. Cover a flooring style mismatch, like the white tile that's a desert mainstay because of its cooling properties, with an abundance of braided rugs. Cap window blinds with swags or gauzy cottage curtains.
* Light the Way. Dot your room with tin lanterns or candle lamps, and consider replacing overhead fixtures with vintage or reproduction designs. The warm glow from a lamp can help set a vibe, especially when ceiling lights are not in use.
* Work with Wood. Clad one or more walls in shiplap, choosing either premade sheets sold at home improvement stores or hand-cut boards like James did. Mount peg rails to host prim accessories, and swap out average trim for a more historical silhouette to outline doors, windows and ceilings.
* Go Big and Bold. Draw attention to a handful of oversize pieces and organized collections. James strives for balance, hanging prim children's portraits over checked chairs topped with matching textiles. The cabinet in the corner draws attention thanks to brightly colored boxes, and a large rocking horse sweetens the scene.

Written by Pamela Dittmer McKuen
Photographed by Gridley + Graves