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Log Cabin Living: Soften the décor with fabric, artwork, and plants

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If you're looking for a rustic living experience, log cabins - either individually built or from a prefab kit - are a great choice; but they do present some unique decorating challenges. Most often the interior walls around the perimeter of the home are constructed of the same rough logs as the exterior; so what do you do to define your décor, or to provide a new look to a home that's become boring to you?

Drapes on the windows are always an easy option, but don't stop there. Quilts or other fabric wall hangings can add interest while establishing a color scheme; add enough large quilts in your choice of designs and the bare log walls will fade into the background. (Wall hangings can also do double duty by helping to minimize drafts common in log homes.) Carefully chosen artwork can also help define the décor; a group of small paintings can complement the log walls, while a number of large canvases can completely redefine the décor, creating any look you want within the home. To add more softness to a room, toss afghans over the sofa and chairs, and add some colorful and comfy pillows. Rugs on the floors contribute warmth, texture, and more color.

Folding screens can redefine the space within a room while adding some decorative touches, and come in an amazing variety of designs, from wood and paper shoji screens to wrought iron screens augmented by colorful fabric panels. Also, consider adding plants - hanging plants on the windows, decorative trees placed around the room on the floors - the bigger the better. A ficus tree or airy palm can add a touch of refinement to the rustic surroundings. (Dieffenbachia are great, but don't use them if you have pets or small children; their leaves can be toxic if ingested.)

If you have a brown thumb when it comes to plants, think about investing in a variety of high quality artificial versions, available in home décor stores and import stores. Good quality artificial trees and other potted plants are indistinguishable from the real thing-except, of course, that you don't have to water them, and they don't die. Everything from the standard ficus and palms to exotic choices like cherry trees and Japanese maples will allow you a lot of creative flexibility when designing your home décor.

Major purchases like sofas, armoires, and beds will also have a sizable impact on the look of a home. Log furniture will obviously fit in with the rustic look, but also consider other approaches. Japanese furnishings will fit in well while providing a very different look; Shaker furniture is also a great choice. Again, soften the look with afghans and quilts in the living room and bedrooms, and pottery and other dishware in warm tones for the kitchen and dining areas. Having a log home with wood interior walls isn't nearly as confining as it might appear in terms of decorating. With some creativity and planning, you can choose from an almost unlimited number of comfortable, functional, and attractive decorative styles.

Aldene Fredenburg is a freelance writer living in southwestern New Hampshire and frequently contributes to Tips and Topics. She has published numerous articles in local and regional publications on a wide range of topics, including business, education, the arts, and local events. Her feature articles include an interview with independent documentary filmmaker Ken Burns and a feature on prisoners at the New Hampshire State Prison in Concord. She may be reached at

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