cow fabric Kath’s country kitchen is ready for a decorating makeover, so we’ve been chatting it over a lot lately.

See, Kath’s decorating taste wasn’t always as sophisticated as it is now, and she went a bit overboard with the traditional type of country kitchen.

Matchy-matchy with colours a bit too strong, a cow farm fabric just bit too bright…

(And yet, our friendship endures!)

Decorating Problem

She’s only got the budget to make-over her kitchen once, but she can’t make up her mind which way to go. Meanwhile, her husband Roger claims to be unable to enjoy another cup of morning coffee in the midst of the too-bright cow themed fabric that dominates the room. And the poor man has a point.

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The farmyard-printed cafe curtains and valances at two windows are a match for the placemats and napkins at the breakfast bar, the upholstery on the stools, even the oven mitts and apron, right down to the border on her tea towels… all echoed by a wallpaper border around all four sage-green walls at chair-rail height.

Quick Fix

For the time being, until Kath decides on her new decorating scheme, we’ve done a quick fix simply by changing the balance of print and solid in the room.

country kitchen decorating color scheme - before and after

We peeled off the farmyard wallpaper border, sanded off the odd rough spot left behind, and painted on a plain cream-coloured strip with a faux drop shadow, to give the impression of an old-fashioned chair rail.

Cream sailcloth cafe curtains and a matching valance replaced the print window treatment, but we did add the print back in as an inch-wide inset at the bottom (I say “we” but must admit that Kath took out her sewing machine and did it herself; she’s a bit of a sewing whiz).

A small and subtle change, but enough to make the room live-in-able once more.

(To get a clear perspective on the difference, hold up a piece of paper to your screen to cover the after picture, above, and look at just the before picture. Then switch, and look only at the after. See how it works?)

Changing the proportions — the balance of solid and print — brought the amount of busy bright print down to a reduced impact.

Note, too, that most of the changes were above the eye level of a standing person. By keeping the bulk of the busy print below that level, the overall effect is now much more restrained and restful.

Kath and Roger both feel able to carry on with the kitchen as it exists, now — and they can take their time about making all those long-term decisions that will go into their “real” full-scale kitchen makeover.

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