Cabin Fever: Easy Ways to Warm Up Décor

By Karen Parr-Moody



The ongoing affection for shabby chic how has a masculine edge. Think English country lodge, Maine chalet, or cozy lakeside cabin. Above all, it is a move against minimalist. A glimpse into this style reveals a riot of antler chandeliers, rustic objects, color and pattern, and nods to nature.



But we’re not talking about the predictable – red plaid wool, carved black bears, wigwams, or the token birch kayak. Rather, this style is eclectic with a whimsical edge. It is about fun, nostalgic, and cozy items that create an authentic and rustic look. And you don’t have to own a chalet to incorporate rustic decorating into your décor.



Antlers, in their natural state, or in aluminum, chrome or wood, continue to lead the pack as a hip interior accessory, seen in fashionable homes and stores, including those of Ralph Lauren and London’s Topshop. Some are designed as candlesticks, coat hooks, and other items, or are grouped together to form a chandelier, as seen here (photo right; $495, Booth B-113).



Shabby cabin chic derives inspiration from the natural world and the slower pace of life in the country. This fabulous brass lamp from the 1940s is a wonderful example of taking the “nature” theme of cabin décor and tweaking it just so (photo left; $60, at JPC Designs, Booth B-309). The splashy floral on red adds a hint of whimsy, à la Dorothy Draper, to the masculine brass base.



This economy has put humility back in style, and there is no more humble trend than the rise of the feed sack. Frugal housewives once used these cotton sacks to make clothes, pillowcases, and the like.  They would first soak them in a lye solution to remove the printed labels. The Great Depression fomented the feed sack craze, and the trend returns in our current recession … and items with labels are part of the look. While French feed bags are wildly popular, this chair is a colorful and kitschy alternative (photo right; $160, Booth B-2012).



Personal style means having a space that’s filled with hints of soul. What better way to add a hint of old-time kitsch than this Sunday School sign measuring attendance and collections? It reminds us of a tiny fellowship down the road, where ladies wore hats, a few dollars hit the collection plate, and a big “Sunday dinner” soon followed (photo left; $229, Booth B-211).



Speaking of dinner, a primitive pie safe cabinet, complete with rustic screen doors, fits perfectly into the shabby cabin style as a china cabinet or bookcase (photo right; $599, Booth B-101). During the 19th century, the Pennsylvania Germans introduced pie safes to Americans. At that time they were literally used to store pies and other baked goods before the invention of the refrigerator.



While the latest twist on cabin fever abandons the more obvious “cabin” references, that’s not to say one shouldn’t throw in a sled or two, given they are authentic and unusual. Take the fabulous child’s sled from Booth S-540 (photo left; $650, down from $1,600). This unusual item dates to the early 1900s and is most likely of Amish origins. Or throw in the vintage “Flexible Flyer” sled – the iconic toy of films such as "A Christmas Story" – plus a pair of vintage children’s skis (photos right, both at Booth B-B-228; sled, $52, and child’s skis with original paint, $140).



Fashion comes and goes, but the idea of a retreat is everlasting. So whether you live in the city of the country, a loft apartment or a house, you can create a rustic look that reflects your idea of home. The s’mores are up to you!

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