How To Get A Country House Feel, Even When You Live In Town
Designer Suzann Bozorgi from Roomlab shares her top tips for bringing a bit of rustic charm into your interiors.
City dwellers, you’ve no doubt been aching for green pastures and country air for the past few months. I know it’s been a while but do you remember that feeling of calm and relief the moment you arrive at your country hotel, yurt or friends’ Georgian manor? Many of us are dreaming of foreign escapades but with property searches for rural boltholes up more than 100 per cent, according to Rightmove, you’re not alone in craving the green, green grass, a splash of mud and those rustic interiors. If a complete move to the country is a leap too far, but you’re keen to inject some of that relaxed countryside chic into your interiors , read on.
My brilliant design tutor taught me that great interior design starts with little areas that are beautifully designed and that you work outwards from. Think a bookshelf, accessorised console table or mantlepiece that makes you smile because you spent some time pulling it together.
Countryside homes are filled with these little areas – nooks and crannies – and in many ways it’s these that bring life and character. Tiny corners crammed with dusty vases, hockey sticks and books. To get this look, search out spaces within your home where you can accessorise, organise and store some of your favourite items. From a few favourite tealights and candles to well stacked books or a few well-chosen plants. Have some fun with it and remember that everything looks better displayed in threes or fives.
Create A Dedicated Reading Space
There’s something about the prospect of a weekend in the countryside that makes me pack a book. Work with this and think comfort by creating a cosy spot just for curling up with the papers or a good read. You’ll need a chair (obvs) or an oversized footstool pushed against a wall with a ton of cushions and a big chunky throw. Shunt a little table next to it for your tea or wine, a candle and you’re all set.
Textured Weaves & Ironwork
I love texture and it’s often overlooked. Along with its pals, colour and pattern, texture is a pillar of great design. You can really build on the countryside feel by hunting down wicker baskets, sisal rugs, open knitted throws, wooden or rattan planters. Go for the washed out wood or limed finish rather than yellow or brown to keep it looking modern and chic. Curved metalwork in the odd chair or side table or a round mirror will add movement to your space and give you that country house vibe without being too try-hard.
Dip Into Countryside Colours and Patterns
You can go as far as you like with this one and leap into tons of pattern, wallpapers and prints but to avoid overdoing it, instead I’d err slightly and choose accessories in shades of burnt umber, wine and bottle greens. Navy also works well. For patterns look to classic birds, plants and flowers or for a more modern slant head to Oka for ikat prints in gorgeous shades. Cushions, vases, blankets are the obvious choices but also consider your artwork, a bed valance or accent chair. By going for smaller pieces they can always be switched out seasonally or if you get bored of them. And they’ll always be a good investment as these colours work for Christmas so pull them out again to keep your guests feeling snuggly.
Layer Over Time
You want that feeling of a space that has evolved organically rather than all being delivered in one day in a big shiny box. The way to do this is through layering. Mooch around your current house for things you love and pull them together. And then start collecting more – empty blue glass bottles, shells, bud vases, for example, and let them sit next to each other. Plants, cushions, throws and books can go a long way to make your home feel lived in and full of character. Don’t worry too much about how it all ties together, just enjoy it.
Paints and wallpapers
Rich colours can be surprisingly easy to live with as can bold wallpapers. Don’t be afraid of papering the back of a bookshelf, a downstairs loo or a study. Here’s a few ideas to whet your design appetite:
- Farrow and Ball and the Natural History Museum have collaborated on a range of 16 new paint colours inspired by Werner’s Nomenclature of Colours. Each colour has an animal, vegetable and mineral reference attached to it, a perfect conception for your new home. Our favourites are Imperial Purple, Scotch Blue and Emerald Green.
It’s generally cheaper to paint a room than it is to wallpaper, but wallpaper tends to have a longer lifespan so the cost does even out over time. Here are my top picks for instant countryside gems:
- William Morris Wallpaper Collection, inspired by his documents, fabrics and original hand-blocks, this stunning collection is presented in authentic shades of indigo, brick red, green and gold. My favourites are Willow Boughs and Strawberry Thief.
- Colefax and Fowler’s Stripe Tealby is reminiscent of a country getaway, but is adaptable enough for the city.
- Great Ormond St Birds by Little Greene is its signature design and one of our in-house favourites, composed of a colourful parrot motif that will always make you smile.
Vintage and Antique Pieces
Finally, it goes without saying that country homes are synonymous with older furniture, be it true antiques in mahogany or a battered set of trunks. Hunt around in charity shops, vintage furniture shops, auction houses or online at eBay and Vinterior, for a piece or two that will give your home a feeling of being loved and evolving over time. This is something that we strive for as designers because if a space all looks ‘too done’ or as if it’s all from one shop it will never really be a success. Antiques and vintage pieces give your eye a lovely place to rest, a little lift for your heart if you choose well, and it’s better for the environment too. Win win.
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