Thursday, December 28, 2006

Collecting & Decorating With Primitives

What is a primitive? A primitive is a piece of anything from furniture to kitchen items to farming implements that is well worn and was used from twenty five to one hundred years ago. Primitive decorating is part flea market finds, part garage sale find, part shabby chic, part or making do with older pieces that have been passed down through the years. Sometimes it might involve antiques or barn finds. Other times you have to buy something new and forcefully 'age' the pieces. These pieces might not be in best of shape but it is interesting to think about all the hands that have used the piece over the years.
Primitives can range from kitchen collectable to furniture to just about anything. Kitchen collectables can be well used items that were used in every day food preparation (such as crockery bowls, potato mashers, flour sifters, marketing baskets and thousands of other pieces of kitchen wear that most women used probably daily or at least weekly).
Not only needed in the kitchen. Other items from all over the house can be added to your primitive collection. These include such things as quilts (as it no doubt got cold during the night), candle holders, old books, rugs, steamer trunks (which make both great coffee tables and great storage for blankets and toys!)
Take a step back into history and look at museums, antique markets, flea markets, garage sales, online auctiions and my personal favourite, thrift stores (we have a great one that you can get stuff for a quarter at) and sometimes even the big garbage pickup days (I once got a bedside table that way) and actually there are several monthly publications that can be used to check out for ideas on how to collect and subsequently decorate in the primitive style (visit your local library.) But here are a few tips to get you started:
Choose a comfortable, over sized sofa. This sofa can be covered with flowered material or perhaps homespun or even some sort of ticking fabric. As long as it has a comfy and old fashioned feel to it. You can decorate the sofa with needlepoint pillows or what ever will give the sofa that primitive look.
To some, primitive go hand in hand with shabby chic, meaning that the furniture has paint missing and the piece has gouges in the wood here and there and while this look is not for everyone, it certainly be included in the primitive style.
When collecting, be open. Think of different ways that you can use things, such as a wire egg basket (that would have obviously been used in the kitchen many years ago), why not use it for rolled up guest towels in your bathroom? Or an old tool box can be used for magazines (I have my the old tool box that my grandfather made and I use it to store my crocheting). Or how about antique ice tongs used to hold toilet paper or paper towels? With purchasing and displaying think outside of the box and let the creativity flow!
Be willing to get messy. I find that some of the dirtiest garage sales and thrift stores are where you can find the best stuff. Also you need to be diligent when visiting these places. Most thrift stores that I am aware of get new old stock every day. So you might want to check back at least once a week (yes, I know, easier said then done!)
Buy what interests you. For a time, I was collecting anything to do with kitchen ware and had a whole wall display of them. I had cookie cutters from the 1950s and stuff like that. I have known to collect different things at different times. After the kitchen collectables, I collected blue glass (remember when Milk of Magnesia can in a blue glass bottle?) After that, I collected glass flower frogs (which can be also used for candle holders and actually look great while doing that). Now I am collecting salts and old books. Collect what ever your interest is at the time.
I have been quite fortunate though. I have gone to thrift stores and garage sales and been at the right place at the right time. You can be also. Have an idea of what you are looking for, know where to look (which thrift stores are better than others – we have several of them around here, but some are much more expensive than others.) But the key is to buy and then surround yourself with the things that you love and you will have primitives to love and enjoy for years to come.

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