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Interior design fanatics surely familiar with the decor terms stressing simple, earthy design elements: “primitive decor”, “rustic”, “shabby chic”. For the design novice, however, how do you differentiate between the different styles? If you look in a dictionary, “primitive” can mean old fashioned, simple, in an early stage of development, or without civilized influences. When applied to interior design, these elements are reflected in the apparent age of a piece. Primitive pieces appear to have been made a long time ago, such as a wooden armoire or side table.


How to differentiate primitive decorating from other styles of design


If you’re a fan of primitive decorating, you should look for design elements that stress rustic, natural styles and functionality. This differs from the “shabby chic” style which has become commonly mass-produced and easily identifiable. Primitive furniture pieces are often handmade, and stress quality over quantity. Think utilitarian furniture pieces such as dressers, dining room tables, or chairs. Pieces in the shabby chic category may not be as functional, with decor such as throw pillows or bedding.

Don’t stress out too much about the functionality decor, though. The important element to focus on here is the appearance of functionality, whether or not it actually works is simply a bonus. For example, antique skeleton keys, lanterns, or kitchen accessories are marvelous examples of primitive design elements, but chances are your front door doesn’t open with an antique skeleton key. You can mix and match these pieces to create an optimal living space that fits your desires.  


How to incorporate primitive decorating into your home


The appeal of this design trend is found in its emphasis on warmth and antiquated fashion. Earth tones are common in primitive design, but these colors go beyond just the walls of your home. Color plays an important role in emotional wellness, and earth tones are associated with warmth and stimulating conversation, which are great for communal spaces like your living room or family room. Combining neutral paint colors with primitive furniture pieces will contribute greatly to the warmth of a space, and will give your home a natural, comforting feel.

Where to find primitive pieces

Primitive pieces like furniture can be pretty old, a great place to start your design process is at a thrift shop. You can peruse antique sales, flea markets, and estate sales to find wonderfully aged pieces to add to your home. If you’re lucky, you’ll find these pieces in great condition at a great price. Even if the condition leaves a little to be desired, perhaps you can take advantage of its advanced age to play upon the antiquity of the piece. After all, primitive pieces are supposed to look old!

Perhaps the best thing about primitive decorating is the character it adds to your home. Each piece of furniture or element of design tells a story, and gives you the opportunity to share that story with every guest who walks through your front door. Take the time to find the design elements that really speak to you, and have fun with the process. Be sure to share your photos once you’ve created the perfect room!