The ‘country’ look is familiar, warm and above all, it’s comfortable. After all, regional and rural homes are often spaces that invite us to slow down, embrace a change of pace, and reconnect with what’s really important.
But country style needn’t be old fashioned. Today, we’re embracing a cool, clean, more refined version of country living. We’ve pulled together an edit of carefully curated spaces, designed for contemporary rural life. They are bright and inviting, often with an element of the unexpected.
I’m inclined to think that the current popularity of contemporary country interiors represents a craving for familiarity and authenticity. There’s a real emphasis on ‘honest’ materials, such as solid timber surfaces and real stone benchtops, and evidence of time-honoured craftsmanship. Imperfections are totally okay in these spaces – in fact, they’re to be embraced.
Kitchens On Show
Unlike minimalist contemporary kitchens that aim to hide everything ‘kitcheney’ behind cupboard doors, country kitchens are about having everything on show. At the same time, the contemporary country kitchen is a little more refined than traditional ‘Hamptons’ style.
These kitchens are designed to be used and loved. Here, the very ‘things’ a kitchen needs to be functional are displayed. We see open shelves with functional ceramic pieces on show, and under bench storage open, with pots and pans within easy reach.
Even the appliances are often on show, rather than integrated, with large free-standing ovens taking centre stage, often with an equally large feature rangehood.
In the contemporary country home, finishes are designed to develop a beautifully worn patina over time; think soft buttery leathers, characterful dining table tops and hand-scraped timber floors. These finishes tell stories, they have history and are beautiful just as they are. We’re not looking for that ‘fresh out of the box’ feel, instead, we want an ‘already lived-in’ look.
Look for ways to combine texture, rather than applying colour; a vintage silk rug laid over tumbled limestone; a plump linen sofa with a chunky undyed wool blanket.
They key to pulling off this modern country look, as opposed to an overstuffed country style, is balancing rustic finishes with clean, crisp details. So – blending rustic timber with sleek marble in the kitchen, or offsetting textured surfaces with white walls.
Whatever you do, aim for comfort. A space should never feel so perfect and precious that you can’t make yourself comfortable.
Vintage Is Key
Incorporating antique pieces instantly gives a space soul, and is key to contemporary country style. We’re looking for a rustic console table at the entry, a sweet side table with turned legs, or a dining table that bears the marks of many dinners past. We’re looking at simple shaker-style or farmhouse pieces that can be picked up from antique dealers, or if you’re lucky enough, an op shop. The odd mid-century piece works well to tighten up the look, but steer clear of anything post-1970s. Look for worn leather armchairs, armoires and milking stools, and avoid chrome, acrylics and bright colours.
I can hardly think of another person that incorporates vintage pieces into interiors better than Lynda Gardener. This isn’t a passing trend, rather, vintage style is at the core of Lynda’s design aesthetic, and remains as relevant as ever.
Lighting Is Lit
Another major factor in creating a cool modern country style (and avoiding out-dated ‘grandma’ vibes), is lighting. Lighting needs to be contemporary to elevate this look, and tighten up the room.
Choose lighting that presents a contemporary contrast to the textured materials and vintage furniture in your space. It’s best to avoid traditional, ‘old world’ style lighting. Look for the unexpected; metallic fittings give an elegant feel to a room, and an asymmetrical form makes the space feel dynamic.
A Word on Comfort
Creating true comfort in our homes seems obvious, but comfort can be overlooked, as there are so many other requirements we’re considering.
When creating a contemporary country look, comfort is at the core. Bring it on, with plush sofas and banquette seating, fluffy or textured rugs underfoot, *extra* cushions wherever you can squish them, and, in the bedroom, a grand (perhaps four-poster!?) bed!
Not only do we want to feel comfortable, we also want comfort on the eye. That’s why these spaces are harmonious, the colours are natural and tonal, not contrasty or jarring – everything just makes sense.