A country themed magazine came in the mail yesterday. When I sat down to read it, the pages fell open to a beautiful spread featuring what the editors called an authentic country kitchen. There were flowers and decorative bowls of fresh produce on the counters. There was a deep, country sink and a six burner, stainless steel Viking stove. There were rough hewn timbers and recycled barn wood throughout. The windows were spotless and the curtains were crisp. It was beautiful, but it was not an authentic country kitchen.
There were no people in overalls or muddy shoes. There weren’t any wilted piles of day old vegetables waiting to be processed. A farmwife stood at the counter, dressed in white slacks and silver sandals. She was smiling as she snipped the ends off a fresh artichoke. It was obvious that she and the artichoke had just stepped off the plane from California where she must have gone for a perm and manicure.
I wore white slacks in my kitchen once, but I’ve never worn any silver sandals there. I don’t have any rough hewn timbers because they’re the dickens to clean and all my recycled barn wood is out in my barn. My windows are spotless twice a year and my curtains are crisp only after I put out the flames from the Christmas candle I set in the windowsill.
Eight years ago, a pipe burst in my kitchen and the resulting flood soaked its way into the subfloor. After tearing out the ruined linoleum, I went shopping. I bet I searched through over two hundred samples in my quest for a pattern that matched my idea of the perfect floor. I finally found it. It’s a mix of browns that coordinate with lamb, puppy and calf poop. And the yellow and orange highlights match any stray splots of applesauce or tomatoes that splatter on the floor during harvest season.
Real country decorating is beautiful because it is durable, economical, practical and unpretentious. Just like the people who live here.