From punchy pops of colour to smart slimline shapes, today's modern country styles are easy to pull together and even easier to live with
If you love country interiors, but are longing to give the traditional florals and farmhouse furniture a bit of an update, this is the article for you. Whether you want an unfussy grey scheme or a pattern-packed room, there’s a modern country look to suit every home. Not sure how to go about it? Here are the new country styling rules to keep you right.
Rule 1: Give country an industrial edge
Wood, stone and metal are all essentials for this look. Soften raw edges with accessories in tomato red, mustard yellow and aqua blue. Add a feature with stone or panelled-effect wallpaper, but find a design that’s not too dominating so reclaimed pieces can shine out. Furniture needs to be slimline and even sleek – it’s the opposite of farmhouse. And lastly, have fun with styling by putting a blowsy floral cushion next to a retro stripe for a cool mismatched effect.
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Rule 2: Take inspiration from modern crafters
Relaxed, stylish and homely, this look improves with age and as more pieces are added. Wood is king – from grainy unit doors to lamp bases – but keep tones similar. Bring nature in with scenes from the British countryside on fabrics and in artworks. Rabbit, badger and fox designs, plus ferns and wild flowers are all quintessentially country, yet pale shades and illustrative elements make them artisan, too.
Rule 3: Make country a little boho
Country doesn’t have to be calm – it can be boho, too. Express a love of colour and pattern with a happy combo of florals that are as far from chintzy as you can get. To make it all work together, keep a neutral base – panelling, white walls and seagrass allow patterns to leap out, while a colourful rug is a low-cost addition. The trick with lots of patterns is to play with scale. For example, a small motif complements a large-scale floral, rather than fighting it.
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Rule 4: Liven up a classic look with soft pastels
Combine a boxy sofa with French country-style pieces and move this favourite look on by dressing the room with hints of sage green, dusky rose and taupe. Work the weathered style with natural distressed finishes, which warm up a neutral room. With regards to pattern, use it sparingly – let accessories such as cushions or a rug add floral accents, but don’t go overboard.
Rule 5: Create a trendy 1950s feel with retro pastels
Ideal for brightening up a dark room, pastels give country a retro vibe that works around the home. Rather than white or natural panelling, be brave and paint your boards in a pretty colour, then add patterns – from runners to cushions, chair covers to napkins. Start with a large-scale hero design then add smaller prints. And remember that furniture paint is your friend – great for chairs, stools and tables just waiting for a retro revival.
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Rule 6: Go for warmer shades of grey
Mix warm neutrals for a scheme that belongs in a hide-away hotel. Add a few country-style must-haves, such as ticking fabric and painted furniture, but avoid accents. This look is tonal and interest comes from subtle patterns and textures, like stripes, wicker and rattan. Make upholstery the star – a corner sofa that’s made for sinking into and a smart footstool in place of a coffee table ensure an inviting space.
Rule 7: Mix geometric and graphic prints
This Scandi-inspired look works well in any room, and is all about adding pattern to a panelled or wooden-clad backdrop. Experiment with planks by laying wood flooring in one direction and wall panelling in another to create interest before introducing your Scandi pattern hit. Limit the number of colours you choose – three or four tops and not every print needs to feature them all. Scandi country is still calm at its heart, rather than being a riot of pattern.
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Whichever modern country look you go for, they’re all thoroughly welcoming and comfortable – they’re definitely interiors that are made for living in.
This article originally appeared in Style at Home, July 2017.