How to decorate a knotty pine den, basement, sunporch or living room? Here are six ideas if you want to play up the classic 1950s outdoorsy or kitschy look, using new sources available today as well as some vintage if you are up for the hunt.
1. Barkcloth curtains: You can find barkcloth vintage or new — I think that its nubbly texture goes nicely with knotty pine paneling. Above: Amy used a vintage curtain in the her vintage paneled bathroom (and oh my see the bar! ) For sources for new, see my story 142 barkcloth fabric designs from 5 companies available today. Oh, and do I really even need to say it: You will transform this barkcloth into pinch-pleat draperies hung on traverse rods. Paint the traverse rods wrought iron black (assuming you have wrought iron cabinet pulls and the like.)
2. Braided rugs: Thorndike Mills is a Massachusetts company that has been making braided rugs since 1925. I <3 this company. And, I <3 braided rugs for midcentury modest houses, knotty pine or no knotty pine. Braided rugs like these are a great way to bring your accent colors into your knotty pine room in a subtle, pleasing and functional manner. These rugs can travel room-to-room easily, if you want to change up a look. And, these rugs will last forever — you will be handing them down to your grandkids. Braided rugs go on my timeless list. Note: Thorndike Mills’ website has been improved significantly since I first wrote about the company; so fun to play with their rooms selector — now we just need to get them to add a knotty pine room!
3. Early American decor: The vintage fire station sign above came from my mother-in-law, who bought it at a decorating store in Birmingham, Mich., in the late 1950s. It was new — not a real antique… all part of the Early American revival so popular throughout the post WWII period.
The horse saddle buckles are also vintage-1950s… and once I had three from my mother-in-law, I quickly received two more as gifts. Today, these varieties of Early American wall decora are not uber-popular. Yet, this stuff is also coming out of houses everywhere like crazy — because it was uber popular back in the day.Keep your eyes open, and you can find stuff like this very inexpensively. Once you get your head around Early American, you can see the loveliness — and this stuff is Well Made. In a knotty pine or wood-panelled room (like our cherry paneled basement family room), the strong colors really pop against the wood. Note: I have several decorative items with these same colors all grouped on the fireplace wall; you need things to make vignettes like these with a minimum of three items, at the least.
4. Wagon wheel lights: Okay, so you don’t have to go all-out for the antlers… but consider a wagon wheel light, or a wagon wheel-esque light… basically, consider Early American.
For example: I found the smallish “ship’s wheel” ceiling fixture above — with original hobnail glass shades — for like $5 at the Re-Store. I had it rewired, and it’s now in my office. I love it. The size of the light and its close-to-the-ceiling profile is just perfect for my small office. And there’s just something about its… retro gravitas. If that make sense.
5. Stiffel table lamps: If the kitsch factor of the wagon and ships wheels are a wee bit too much for you, take a look at vintage Stiffel table lamps from the 1950s and 1960s. They often have Early American styling — but sort of very classic, at the same time. They also travel room-to-room, house-to-house very well; we have two sets from my mother-in-law, these lamps are just lovely. They are abundant on ebay (above; *affiliate link), often at great prices. Get educated on what to watch for, and I bet you can find them at great prices locally, too. These were expensive back in the day — they are great lamps.
6. Wrought iron cabinet pulls and other accessory hardware: Wrought iron and knotty pine go together like peanut butter and jelly. Acorn Manufacturing is one of the top makers, but you can also find much less expensive knock offs. And remember, you’re gonna spray paint your traverse rod this color, too, before you hang your pinch pleats.