Modern country style ideas - the new rules to follow

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

living room with sofa and wooden teapoy
(Image credit: Future PLC/ Simon Whitmore)

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

living room with exposed brick walls and wooden flooring

(Image credit: Future PLC/ David Brittain)

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.

Get the look
Buy now: brick-look wallpaper, £13 per roll, Graham & Brown
Buy now: similar fabric, £18 per m, John Lewis

bedroom with blue multi drawer vanity

(Image credit: Future PLC/ Dan Duchar)

Get the look
Buy now: plank-effect wallpaper, I want Wallpaper

Rule 2: Take inspiration from modern crafters

living room with fireplace sofa and wooden furniture

(Image credit: Future PLC/ Simon Whitmore)

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.

Get the look
Buy now: similar hare fabric, £64 per m, Peony & Sage
Buy now: similar paint, £15 for 2.5ltr, Wilko

Rule 3: Make country a little boho

living room with fire stove sofa and decorative cushions

(Image credit: TBC)

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.

Get the look
Buy now: similar stripy rug, from £120, John Lewis
Buy now: similar yellow sofa, £299.99, Sofas World

dinner area with wooden table and bench

(Image credit: Future PLC/ David Brittain)

Get the look
Buy now: similar tableware, Love Tiki

Rule 4: Liven up a classic look with soft pastels

living room with sofa and wooden teapoy with storage

(Image credit: Future PLC/ Joanna Henderson)

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.

Get the look
Buy now: similar cushion fabric, Fabrics and Papers
Buy now: similar carpet, £7.99 per sq m, Carpetright

Rule 5: Create a trendy 1950s feel with retro pastels

room with sofa cushions and white table

(Image credit: Future PLC/ David Brittain)

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.

Get the look
Buy now: similar swallow fabric, £24 per m, Sophie Allport
Buy now: similar sofa, £2,600, Darlings of Chelsea


room with wooden table and chairs and hanging lights

(Image credit: Future PLC/ David Brittain)

Get the look
Buy now:
similar furniture paint, B&Q
Buy now: white planks laminate flooring, £21.99 per sq m, Quick-Step

Rule 6: Go for warmer shades of grey

living room with grey walls and sofa

(Image credit: Future PLC/ David Brittain)

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.

Get the look
Buy now: similar paint, £44 for 2.5ltr, Mylands
Buy now: similar fabric, £13.95 per m, Just Fabrics

Rule 7: Mix geometric and graphic prints

bedroom with wooden wall and bed side storage drawer

(Image credit: Future PLC/ David Brittain)

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.

Get the look
Buy now: similar rug, £110.99, Wayfair
Buy now: similar bedding, from £16, The White Company

room with grey armchair wooden furniture and yellow lamp

(Image credit: Future PLC/ Trevor Richards)

Get the look
Buy now: similar rug, from £129, Marks & Spencer
Buy now: similar side table, £255, The Country Home

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.


Tamara was Ideal Home's Digital Editor before joining the Woman & Home team in 2022. She has spent the last 15 years working with the style teams at Country Homes & Interiors and Ideal Home, both now at Future PLC. It’s with these award wining interiors teams that she's honed her skills and passion for shopping, styling and writing. Tamara is always ahead of the curve when it comes to interiors trends – and is great at seeking out designer dupes on the high street.