Origins: This is more of an approach to living than a defined architectural style. Be they old or new, the homes are usually a comfortable size, not grand or pretentious. Perhaps yours is a rambling old house next to a barn that has been added to over time, as families and resources burgeoned, or a small, simple worker’s cottage in the city.
Characteristics: Straightforward in design, a casual, country-style house looks relaxed and inviting. Siding is often board and batten or clapboard with little in the way of ornate, milled trim. In many cases, it’s surrounded by lots of land. Perhaps it’s a weekend cottage by a lake.
Design: Informality, whimsy and charm are the goals. Loose, easy curves (nothing tight or fussy) suit the informal nature of a country-style home and garden. Keep lawn areas to a minimum and introduce more trees and shrubs along the garden’s boundaries; this will reinforce a country look even in an urban setting.
Surface materials: Use simple, natural materials, such as shredded bark or straw for paths. Or create mown grass paths. A gravel driveway or a grass pad with two tracks of patio slabs for tires to travel on harken back to our grandparents’ days. For a seating area, widely spaced, random flagstone with moss or creeping thyme growing in the crevices looks pretty.
Structures: Frame a front door with a vine-clad arbour; mark out the garden’s boundaries with a split-rail fence. Informal trellises made of bent willow or unpeeled cedar for rambling roses also suit the style.
Finishing touches: Wicker or willow furniture, old garden implements, sap buckets, galvanized pails and tubs, hay mangers, wooden window boxes and wooden half-barrels.
Plants: If you have the room and the inclination, consider planting a small orchard (for smaller spaces, buy plants on dwarfing rootstock) or a berry patch. Grow herbs and annuals for fresh-cut bouquets for the kitchen table. In the front garden, plant a sugar maple or perhaps a smaller deciduous specimen tree such as crabapple or ornamental pear.