Rustic Modern

This style is informal but elegant – comfortable, country with all the perks of modern living. It tends to be quite open plan and uncluttered, with lots of natural light. Large windows are a key element, with the aim of bringing the outside in.

It relies on a subtle balance between rustic detail and a clean, modern feel. The balance between modern and rustic with a little added personality is what really makes this style work.

You are aiming to bring modern living into an old, unfinished or old and neglected- looking room, and here are my golden rules for getting the balance right.

Rule #1 – Keep it simple, and allow the buildings features to shine through.

Exposed beams, stonework, brick, floor tiles and even concrete, will all add to the beauty of this mix.
It’s quite a contradictory style, incorporating items and materials not usually put together, such as steel and concrete, raw industrial elements, commercial items more common in factories and original natural materials like beams, rustic furniture, cowhide or sheepskin rugs. You can even get away with a traditional chandelier to add a little glamour.

Rule #2 – Exposed architectural elements are a large part of this style.

Things like a stone, brick or a wooden wall make great features, as do exposed beams, period fireplaces and – for those lucky enough to have a vaulted ceiling with old beams, these are great at adding a feeling of space, light and history.

Once you have assessed what you have, the likelihood is that you won’t have everything you’d like. There are fixes, though, that although involving a little work, will be worth it. For example get hold of some old, weathered wooden floor boards or old palettes, sand and treat them and attach to your small wall to create a feature. Of course consider how this will look in the context of the whole room first, and it is possible to get wall paper which will do a similar job, but actual wood will give a better result. Other options are stone or brick effect wall coverings, and again, there are lots of beautiful wallpapers available these days if you don’t have the luxury of the actual raw materials

Rule #3 – Lots of natural light is key

Large windows let in light and allow a direct line of sight to the outside natural space. If your room is a little on the dark side you could introduce mirrors to bounce the light around; sheer, lightweight fabric at the windows to allow the maximum light through; a light colour palate, white reflects the light around the room better than a warmer colour.

Also, think about your flooring, a hard-polished finish will bounce the light back up into the room whereas a carpet will add warmth but it isn’t reflective

Rule #4 – Colour is key

White paint for the walls is the colour of choice for this style, it helps reflect the natural light around, with other added base colours such as dark grey, grey-blue, grey-green, blackboard paint (to allow for a personal touch with chalk) although other modern colours can work the exact tone matters and the mix is harder to achieve. A splash of bright colour here and there can create an impressive contrast. It is easier though to keep colour to a minimum and incorporate it mainly through your furnishings, this way you have the option to change the mood of the room using just the soft furnishings.

A natural floor covering like wood would work well, but equally polished concrete would add the industrial element very well, using rugs to add comfort. Again, natural materials work best for this, such as seagrass rugs.

Less is more with this style, let the natural materials do the talking.

Once you’ve successfully set the scene in this way, it’s time for the fun bit – furnishing it!.

Rule #5 – Only use good quality pieces that you love.

Invest in good feature pieces, looking for things with a hand crafted feel, and/or re-purpose industrial features, such as wooden crates which have a multitude of different uses.

It is important to consider the scale of each piece within your space, as getting the proportions right is essential to how furnishings relate to one another, particularly when creating an eclectic scheme. Oversized designs are generally better than undersized. Don’t clutter your room with lots of small items which won’t hang together. Invest your budget in a smaller number of bigger feature pieces. Some of the most impressive schemes combine contemporary items like seating, with vintage chandeliers and classical mirrors.

The way you use the items in the space is just as significant as the item itself. Try re-purposing favourite items, such as a vintage suitcase as a coffee table, or an old wooden door as a dining or coffee table (it may need a glass top).

Rule # 6 – Mismatch your furniture, combining weathered woods and metal furniture

Use a combination of weathered woods and metal furniture to create a rustic dining area where old and new can sit together in one room. Mix vintage and modern chairs, with various shapes, styles and finishes such as zinc, tarnished metals, chalky handmade ceramics and textured leather to introduce the rustic look.

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Rule #7 – The alchemy of layering

Layering, or mixing, the various elements of your design can make the difference between the success or failure of your look. Add mirrors and lamps to augment the style you’ve created and bounce light around the room and create atmosphere. Consider where a mirror would really make your room sing, and whether you want a weathered wooden frame, a modern frame or even a vintage frame.

Add elegance with a chandelier, or consider using industrial lighting and lamps for an industrial or steampunk flavour.

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Rule # 8 – Introduce your hobbies and travels to add personality

Anything with family history or interesting collectables can help to make your space unique. Group items together to create a story.

Hand crafted items can be great unique statement pieces that will attract comments from visitors.

But, keep this to a handful of statement pieces.

Rule #9 – Artwork can really add impact

But it must be modern and be in your chosen ‘splash’ colour.

Artwork can really add impact in this design style and can be quite diverse, from a single, strong colour canvas to a chaotic framed advertisement poster. Consider what will work with the rest of the room. What is unlikely to work with this look, is a traditional oil painting or water colour, the artwork needs to add drama to the space.

Rule #10 – Keep soft furnishings to a minimum

Soft furnishings need to be sparing and carefully chosen. Use them to introduce natural textures such as leather, faux-fur, wool and linen, in neutral colours and without a print style. Cushions and accessories with a unified colour can help to unify the space and can draw the eye from one area to another. The soft furnishings need to take the form of rugs, a throw or minimal cushions. You could also add cowhides and sheep skin rugs as statement pieces to add an element of warmth.

Once you’ve arranged everything more or less as you envisaged, cast your eye around the room. If you’ve got the combinations right, your eye and attention should trip lightly over the room and not get drawn in by one object. If this happens, maybe this item is too strong and other areas may be lacking in interest, so you might want to r-jig them slightly.

It can often be hard not to trip over into different styles when designing your space, and there is no absolute rule book. But doesn’t really matter, as long as you love the end result, it has you and your family’s personality woven through it and works as your inspiring home, then it’s a huge success and you should feel proud!

At Rustic Riddle, we’re passionate about design. We hope this little scene-setter will have inspired you to get creative. Over the coming months, we’ll be looking at some particular visual themes you might like to try, so watch this space for more inspiration.