Trafalgar Square
Defining Your Style
was featured in
Fresh Start

January 2012


Defining Your Style 4: Casual

This style is used so often and is so desirable because it's completely unpretentious. It's about warmth, hospitality and comfort.
If you take elements of traditional design, simplify them, pare them down and make them more approachable, you've got casual style. The fundamentals of this design are based on just what you'd think—a casual lifestyle, like living in the country! The American Country casual style takes a rustic, sometimes even primitive approach to craftsmanship and finish because it comes from a time when resourceful furniture makers used whichever local materials and tools were available. On the contrary, French Country style is far more polished and refined, so it's perfect if formal entertaining is important to you.
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There is little ornamentation, since it provides no purpose, and casual living is all about utilizing the resources available to you. The details that are used are primitive, like chamfered legs and chunky bun feet. Hand-forged iron and big square nailheads on furniture corners show up often. These nailheads are not the ornamental kind—the heads appear at points where reinforcement is necessary, keeping with function, not form. Knobs and hardware are generally in iron—you won't find shiny brass or slick stainless here!

Wood tones:

Knicks, dents and dings are all allowed because they show off the history of a piece. They are also common because casual furniture is often constructed of inexpensive and readily available woods like soft pine. Distressing gives new pieces a time-worn feel that's so appealing with this style and looks great on painted surfaces as well as stained or natural wood. Oak makes regular appearances, and while wax finishes over natural woods are common, most are in the medium wood tone range. Fruitwoods in orange tones are also common in casual style.


Unfussy, uncomplicated and comfy are key here. Checks and stripes are indicative of American Country, while French Country builds around hopsack, ticking and raw linen. Bright Provencial fabrics tend to make their appearances in the form of tablecloths and napkins, but they often do make their way onto upholstered pieces and pillows.

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