Finding the Heart of Country Decorating

On the second weekend of February, Nashville’s Opryland Hotel was taken over by antique lovers from all over the U.S. That’s because the “Heart of Country” antiques show was in town, and it was the place to catch up on the hottest trends in American Country decorating today from the informative dealers and collectors in attendance. This year’s show theme was “Celebrate America.”

The annual Heart of Country show is one of the best-known antique shows in the U.S. The event hosts dealers who specialize in American Country items, including everything from textiles to books to primitive furnishings. This year, more than 250 dealers set up shop for four days. Exhibitors and attendees were also treated to several events over the weekend, such as a preview party, an evening at The Hermitage (President Andrew Jackson’s Tennessee home), book signings andsigningstion sessions.

In keeping with this year’s (poignant and timely) theme, “Celebrate America,” the American flag, in its many variations, was on display all over the convention hall. Examples (some dating back 200 years) hung on booth walls, available for admiration, inspection and some even for purchase.

As wonderful as the sites were to take in, however, I did have my eye out for one thing in particular: usable decorating ideas. I hunted through the convention hall for two days, inspecting furnishings, chatting with dealers, and thinking of budget-conscious ways to take what I saw there and translate it into my own decorating projects. And though most of the items I saw at Heart of Country were pricier than many budget decorators can afford, all is not lost for those who love American Country antiques. Remember: Budget decorating takes creativity, patience, and a little practice. Don’t look at an out-of-reach piece tearfully and decide you can’t ever have the same look in your home. You can always hunt down low-cost reproductions or snatch up less-pristine versions of the items you love at flea markets and other such places.

So, what items were causing the buzz at this year’s show? Too many to mention! But some of my favorites were:

Vintage signs – whether they were fancy or plain, humorous or straightforward, tiny or huge, vintage signs were everywhere. Vintage signs are a great addition to your Country dĪ¹cor, especially game rooms, dens and other fun, casual spaces.

Game boards – they look great hanging on your walls in place of artwork. If you’re lucky enough to find the game pieces that go with them, you can even use your art!

Wooden trunks and toolboxes – wonderful as tables and for extra storage, and even better when you find them with their original paint. This year’s hot color was robin’s blue – one of my personal favorites.

Quilts – few items say down-home Country style like a handmade quilt. Quilts are just as wonderful stacked in an open cupboard or hanging on a wall as they are on a well-dressed bed.

Vintage clothing – the one item I purchased was a heavy, hand-knit, Cowichan sweater from Canada, made in the 1940s. (My sweater–adorned with a moose and the word “Alaska”–is shown in the photo.)

In need for decorating your home? Check out Brenda Lee Design for more information.