Being born and raised in the Flathead Valley has shaped my perspective of the world, as it would for anyone who has roots. However, fervent desires to visit faraway places have never been lost on me. Watching the musical “Sound of Music” as a child was the biggest contributor to perceptions that shaped my view of Europe. I vowed to go to Austria and sing at the top of my lungs,”The hills are alive with the sound of music”. Well, I did get that opportunity while living abroad for seven years in Germany and the Netherlands. Although we might share quite a few commonalities with these countries, there were also things that I appreciated and enjoyed as a small town girl from Montana.
The daily ritual of walking to your local baker would include a view of terra-cotta shingled houses of stucco or brick. Immaculately kept walkways of brick or concrete were weed free and swept clean. Rolling hills of open farmland bordered by stone walls or hedges divided pastures. Regularly cleaned windows, were graced with overflowing flower boxes. No matter the age of the home or business it always looked clean and minimalist. In the Netherlands, impeccable gardens were tended to in the traditional wooden clogs. Window “scapes” were created in typical Dutch homes. Phalaenopsis or orchids garnished window frames. Glass vases with botanicals or modern sculptures were prominent as well. At night when lights came on you could regard the whole interior of a neighbor’s living room. Curtains were rarely drawn in large front windows as if to say, “Come look at my décor, behold my great taste!” I wasn’t just looking, I felt I was basking in European style!
Square footage of living quarters in Europe were considerably smaller than what we are used to in the United States. Therefore, the decorating was very direct in its approach. It was simple, uncluttered, orderly, and refined. Décor trends in these countries were leaning towards sleek and modern. If I needed a nice piece of handcrafted furniture, I would check the corner by my house or go to a second hand store. Residents of these countries were converting heavy, hand carved wood pieces into lighter feeling pieces. Linear lines combined with smooth surfaces and minimal hardware distractions seemed to be the desired look. Bright bold colors incorporated into large pieces became focal points in a room.
Another prominent type of décor in these two countries was French country. Soft accents of beautiful textiles and provincial patterns are the key signature of French country. Neutrals of various textures and tone-on-tone patterns brought wonderful visual interest to a room among more neutral color tones. Old world style of wood inlay or wood working paired well with architectural details of exposed wood beams, curved archways and rustic stone accents. Natural elements of woven baskets, wool or jute rugs were as common as stone fireplaces. Antiques were an important component of country French decor. Vintage pieces enhanced the European character of the spaces.
Even though I miss Europe I can still enjoy it here at home in Montana. Station 8 is unique in that we cover a range of tastes and styles. We carry industrial, mid-century modern, rustic, French country and shabby chic just to name a few. We take pride in knowing that if you are looking to add some “Europe” to your home that we can accommodate. The current dollar/euro exchange rate is excellent, but a trip to Station 8 is faster and a lot more affordable!
On behalf of Team 8,