Interiors: Rustic rules, as the country style endures
Posted 19 October 2015 by Keith Osborne
Do you secretly long for a bit of floral? Do you lust after tweed and Belfast sinks? Resist no longer, embrace the chintz and become a rustic rebel.
Country style is one of the most enduring looks in interior design and it’s not hard to see why this versatile mode has sailed through endless changing trends just doing its own thing. Unpretentious, comfortable, relaxed and welcoming are all words that epitomise this much-loved trend, which can move effortlessly in any direction from cosy traditional with co-ordinated chintzes and the ubiquitous Aga to an edgier, more contemporary style with bleached wood, natural fabrics and heaps of texture.
It is also an extremely forgiving style in terms of proportions and even the age of a house doesn't alter its ability to go with the flow. So, while properties oozing wooden beams, panelled walls and flagstone floors are the perfect canvas for classic country style, so too can a modern box benefit from a rustic makeover, particularly as the materials for such character transformations are now readily available.
All sizes of property can be accommodated within the country style genre equally well. So whether your home is a castle or a farmhouse, a modern semi or a coastal cottage, there is an element of country that will suit the architectural framework.
For grander properties that are more manor house, everything needs to be on a larger scale with generously proportioned furniture, including oversized sofas and armchairs, floor-length curtains with bold tie-backs, substantial tables, oversized artwork and capacious lanterns or chandeliers.
Colours should be elegant, muted and graceful. High ceilings lend themselves to more dramatic effects such as striped fabrics and tweed, vast fireplaces with painted overmantels. The odd stuffed stag's head or pheasant wouldn't go amiss either…
A rural farmhouse, featuring lower ceilings and heavy, chamfered wooden beams is a different proposition altogether, which needs sensitive treatment if it is not to become stuffy and cluttered. This type of house can benefit greatly from soft cream tones, which work well where there is plenty of wooden texture. It requires a simpler treatment, so team sofas upholstered in soft checked fabrics with distressed painted chests or dressers. Animal motifs, whether on cushions, paintings or china are a classic ingredient that always fits the bill. An Aga or range cooker, preferably in classic cream, will warm the kitchen. Use stone flags and loose rugs made from coir or seagrass to finish the look.
Modern new builds should be viewed as blank canvases with heaps of potential, rather than as boring characterless boxes. They are, in fact, just waiting for someone to inject some personality. Starting with the hallway, make sure it has plenty of robust storage in the form of a traditional peg rail with shelf above. Always try and use good-quality pieces made by traditional craftsmen. Add in plenty of wicker baskets and storage for welly-boots, plus limestone flags. A comfortable chair piled with traditional weave blankets or cushions and big bunches of cottage garden flowers will all add to the charm. Continue this look throughout the rest of the house and you are on to a winner.
1 Stag prints are still very much in vogue and are perfect for rustic style rooms, Stag hug rug, £39.99, www.modern-rugs.co.uk
2 This charming country style kitchen has all the right ingredients: oak beams, cream Shaker-style units, beech worktop, a range cooker, Belfast sink and poultry-themed roller blind (Feathered Friends Apple) from www.directblinds.co.uk
3 Made from pure wool, Tweed is an impeccable upholstery cloth being smart, warm and hardwearing, Hebrides chairs in Harris Tweed, £899 each, www.darlingsofchelsea.co.uk
4 Accessories play a big part in achieving a country look - be brave and openly display everyday items such as kitchen utensils so that they become part of the overall design, www.ikea.com
5 This floral bed set is based on the classic chintz pattern but its charcoal and pink colour combination gives it an appealing and fresh twist, Roseneath double side quilt, www.wallacecotton.com