Primitive decor often refers to rustic interior design or country living. Common hues used in today's primitive-style decorating are based on colors that were once bright but are now faded or aged. Thus rarely will you find fuschia or sunshine yellow in a traditional primitive home. If you want your kitchen or bedroom to appear rustic, you can still use subtle hints of bold colors in combination with hues from the primitive palette.
Goldenrod and Barn Red
Golden yellow or goldenrod, maize, and beige are primitive yellows. Use them for wall paint, in wall hangings and ornamental gourds,and for finishing wood furniture in creamy, chipped milk paint. Find primitive yellows in mixing bowls and ceramic jars at country antique stores. Brass is common in antique clasps on chests, door knobs or in tools such as watering cans, lanterns and buckets. Barn red is a deep, worn red that's stand-out on the side of an old barn or as the finish on your dining room farm cupboard. Soil content regulated the degree of brightness in reds but many primitive reds could as easily be classified as browns.
The Dirt on Brown -- and Red
Brown, reddish-brown or barn red, and bronze were dominant shades in primitive decor. Brown is the natural, rustic color of the native woods use for furnishings, floors and sometimes walls. Barn red added a splash of color to window frames and door trimmings, cupboards and shelves, chair upholstery and, of course, the sides of barns. The cheap paint made from digging up dirt with a high iron oxide content, grinding it to fine powder, and mixing it with linseed oil and turpentine to cover wood was called Spanish Brown -- not barn red -- by the colonists, who copied the style from Europe. The slightly dingy tone of barn red was originally due to its dirt base and the variable iron oxide content in the soil. Bronze fireplace tools, cauldrons and lamps are also common motifs in primitive decor.
Blue and Gray
Slate blue or bluish-gray, midnight blue -- a cross between navy blue and black, and gray are cool, dark primitive colors. These colors are represented in stone work, paint trim and accessories like ornaments and wood boxes. Blue and gray paint -- even very dark, charcoal grays -- were used on walls in colonial Williamsburg. Public rooms on the main floor of finer houses might have medium blue walls and blue-green trim was popular.
Olive and Pine
A primitive shade of green is almost olive or army green. This color may show up in quilts, pine branches and garlands, painted decorations or faux foliage. Boiled leaves were among the early sources for green pigments to add to primitive paints. Copper salts and verdigris scraped off oxidized copper supplied more green pigments. Some paints used for trim and walls were blue mixed with copper pigments that became bright turquoise or an intense blue-green.
Folk Art Colors
Folk art is sometimes called primitive art. Folk rugs, quilts, sculptures and paintings tend to incorporate more colors than a subtle rustic design, although the colors are still dark or cool, based on vegetable pigments and tea dyes. Touches of bright color were rare -- and expensive -- but do turn up in braided rugs, scrap-cloth quilts and, occasionally, painted designs. A primitive folk art rug might feature pieced-together bands of beige, brown, light and dark green, maroon, violet, red, white, light and navy blue, black and orange.
- Home Decorating Made Easy: Primitive Decor--Enjoy the Rustic Splendor
- Country Sampler Magazine: Primitives at Play
- Newport Restoration: Paint in 18th Century Newport
- Z & K Antiques: Primitive Folk Art Hooked Rug
- Colonial Williamsburg: "The George Wythe House Comparative Microscopical Paint and Color Analysis"
- Photo Credit Rustic barn shed image by itsallgood from Fotolia.com
How to Decorate Shelves in a Living Room
Vary the height and size of displayed objects on shelves and stagger items along the surface to create visual interest and depth....
Primitive Paint & Stain Techniques
Primitive decor has an aged, worn appearance that embraces imperfections and is most often present in country-rustic decorating. Nicks, scratches and chips...
How to Paint in the Primitive Style
Primitive country style painting requires special painting techniques to help achieve this traditional style appearance in your projects. Primitives look time-worn and...
Primitive Trim & Molding Ideas
Primitive style decor is also known as country style, which is meant to make a home feel cozy, inviting, and homey, harking...
Primitive Christmas Decorating Ideas
For a rustic country holiday look, fill your home with primitive-style Christmas decor. Primitive decorations add homespun flavor and nature-inspired detail to...
Primitive Home Paint Colors
Choosing paint for your historic home is not as difficult as it may seem. Authentic colors, appropriate for the era, free you...
Primitive Paint Ideas
Use paint to give walls, floors and furniture a primitive, organic or "grunge" look. Set off faded colors, rough, gritty textures and...
Primitive Kitchen Ideas
Look to the past to understand primitive decorating. It tends to be simple, uncomplicated and natural. Primitive décor lends itself particularly in...