The Differences of Western and Country Interior Design Styles

interior design styles

Contrary to popular opinion, western interior design and country interior design styles are not interchangeable. Western design focuses on rugged, primitive elements such as animals and wood; country design is often more chic and airy. One thing they both have in common is a focus on comfort, comfort, comfort! Read on for more information on both western and country interior design styles.

What is Western Interior Design Style?

Western interior design has been around since the pioneers first set out. It is often associated with early homesteading and remote rustic living. But western interior design can also evoke images of modern ranch life as well. Your western design doesn’t have to adhere to a strict set of rules, but there are a few elements common to western design that will help focus your vision.

One of the most identifiable designing elements for western style is the use of animals. This can mean cowhide rugs, leather furniture, mounted game, and even animal-themed art and upholstery. Animal materials are often lush (think of fur blankets by a fireplace), durable (very important in rustic settings), and sustainable. They can reinforce the idea that nature is an essential part of western life.

Another key component of western interior design is wood. Many western homes will be constructed of wood and will take pains to showcase, rather than camouflage, this building material. You may see rustic log cabins, floor-to-ceiling wood paneling, or impressive ceiling beams. A western home will choose furnishings made of wood over plastic to the greatest extent possible. However, you will also see a great deal of metal, especially wrought iron and copper.

A western interior should have stone or wood floors with earthy rugs provided for warmth. You may also notice a lack of window furnishings, especially if the home is facing beautiful mountain views. All furnishing will be very sturdy, well-made, and typically locally-sourced. It is a style that values authenticity over artifice and function over fashion.

What is Country Interior Design Style?

Country interior design is a bit more varied than western style. Some people use the term country to describe rustic design, while others think of a French farmhouse. Ultimately, the way you define country style is completely up to you. But based on feedback from popular interior designers, we have outlined some of the more common features of a country style.

First, country interior design is casual and natural. Much like western style, a country home will bring in elements of nature like wood and greenery; you will find fresh flowers, dried herbs, and plants galore. Upholstery will be natural as well, typically linen and other cotton blends. Wood will be oak or ash, either unfinished or distressed to evoke a sense of age.

A country design color palette will be light and airy. It could almost be described as nautical or coastal at times. Beige, white, and light blue are all popular choices, as is red for a bright accent.

A country interior design that leans toward farmhouse will often contain farm imagery such as chickens, cows, and dairy. This could appear in the upholstery, dishware, and wall decor. There may be elements invoking a barn, such as wood paneling, shiplap, and even reclaimed barn wood floors or beams.

Something that is overwhelmingly found in country interior design, be it American country or French farmhouse, is a focus on food. Country interior design values a kitchen and dining space that is inviting and can hold large groups of visitors or families for a shared meal. The kitchen will be well-stocked and well-loved.

What are the Key Differences Between the Two Styles?

As you can see, there are many similarities between western interior design and country interior design. Each style prioritizes comfort, community, and nature. You will find a lot of wood, pillows and blankets, and handmade furnishings.

However, there are some pretty significant differences between the two interior design styles. Some people mistakenly believe that the two styles are roughly the same and fail to maintain their design integrity.

A western design will typically be darker than a country design. Western design will use a lot of dark wood, red, wrought iron or blackened steel, and brown leather. Lighting will be soft and warm. On the other hand, a country-style palette will usually be lighter and airier, with tones of white, beige, and yellow. There will be a lot of natural light to keep things bright as well.

The material used for both interior design styles may be considered natural (wood, stone, etc.), but there will likely be a significant difference in density. Western design styles make use of very heavy wood, large stone features, and thick upholstery. This is because of the need for durable and long-lasting materials. Traditionally a lot of the textiles are wool, if not animal-hide. A country style will incorporate light linen, more delicately made wooden furniture, and more elements of greenery and plant-life.

It can be said that western and country interior design styles represent masculine and feminine approaches to the same general aesthetic. Of course, this does not have to be the case, and many people have different ideas of masculine and feminine design. But western design tends to be ‘dark and moody’ while country design is ‘light and airy.’

A western designed home will be reminiscent of early western settlers, cowboys, and ranchers. The decor may include functional elements like old rifles. A country home can have elements that are considered ‘cute’ or ‘whimsical’ without any regard for function.

Ultimately, your approach to western or country interior design can be whatever you make it out to be. But to stick to the traditional spirit of each style, you should keep the differences in mind. Stay bold, heavy, and animalistic for your western design; add elements of leather, cowhide and heavy wood. For a country style, incorporate natural light, linens and gingham, and farmhouse decor.


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