As a design style, country furniture has been a popular choice for homeowners since the mid 1980's, but the history of this furniture style dates back to the 1800s and American farmers and pioneers. Today's country furniture may be reproductions or versions of primitive, country or French country pieces that evolved during the 17th and 18th centuries.
The history of country furniture includes rough sewn logs strapped together to form tables, beds and seating. Primitive country furniture blends into Americana during the time when pioneers were exploring and settling the American west. The European influence for polished furniture impacted the evolution of country furniture pieces as craftsmen and designers from Germany, France and England settled into homes throughout the west.
The type of furniture depicting the country decorating style has a long history of wear and tear spanning centuries and continents. Farmhouse tables and chairs have simple, clean lines and are typically made from pine or oak. Pie cabinets and cupboards with punched tin doors reflect a primitive country style, while Americana country furniture alters these same pieces to reflect patriotism with color and design. Country furniture design is based on necessity and created for function first, then style.
Country, French country and primitive country are all styles of country furniture, each with specific elements that define the styles. Primitive country is rustic and simple with furniture made from twigs and pine. Country style furniture takes the simple, serviceable designs of primitive country and refines them to include polished pine and oak furniture with few, if any, frills. French country furniture styles combine the rustic designs of primitive with the more polished look of country with more frills like wood carvings and design patterns.
Original country furniture pieces were coated with milk paint for color and protection. Milk was blended with lime, oils and pigments to create a lasting furniture coating. The fabric history for country furniture pieces was based on durability and accessibility. It was not uncommon for country furniture to be covered with fabrics made from gingham.