What happens when you pair sleek modern design with rustic country living?
You get country modern (or modern country), a look that works perfectly in vacation and second homes, but also in suburban and country settings, where a sharp-edged modern look may appear a bit too urban but where the traditional country look may feel like too much of a cliché.
When done right, country modern can achieve the perfect balance — it feels cozy but airy at the same time. Veer too much in one direction, however, and its easy to lose your way. So what are the basic tenets of country modern?
1. Keep things open and airy. Modern design revers space, which is considered a design element all by itself. So in a country setting, resist the urge to fill spaces with antique memorabilia, knick-knacks and so on. Instead, pare down and eliminate, eliminate, eliminate. If you’ve got the option to knock down a wall or two to create a larger, more open living space, consider doing so. And if you don’t have that option, create the illusion of space with light or non-existent window treatments and smaller-scaled furniture.
2. Mix and match periods and styles. Here’s where you can really have fun and let your imagination go wild. What about pairing a minimal sofa from Ligne Roset or B & B Italia with an old battered antique coffee table? Or how about pairing polished aluminum Philippe Starck chairs with a distressed wood farmhouse dining table covered with nicks and scratches? The key is to keep things unexpected, light-hearted and fun. Once things get too serious, you lose the informality and playfulness that are at the heart of country living. In the first photo, classic modernist molded chairs are paired with an antique couch. In the second photo, clean modern couches set off an antique armoire.
3. Go lightly on pattern. Lots of pattern — gingham checks for example — are common in country decorating. But in a country modern décor, pattern is used with decidedly less abandon. Some interiors eschew pattern of any sort and focus instead on textures — animal-skin rugs and nubby fabrics, for example. Others use pattern, but in a focused way — kilim rugs and runners or a patterned pillow here and there. Above, a muted kilim rug and zebra-patterned pillow strike the perfect balance in a modern rustic interior.
4. Focus on natural elements. While you can feel free to use chrome and steel in a country modern setting, you’ll want man-made elements to be set off by natural elements that should take center stage. Stone, wood, rough fibers, should be incorporated into a design scheme, but in a natural way rather than through antiques and knick-knacks. So, for example, your country interior may include rough terra cotta tiles, or rough-hewn wooden planks that play up country without feeling forced. Below, a sisal carpet is the perfect balance to a modern armoire and dining room set in the next room.
5. Play up modern lighting and appliances. Just because your home has wood-beams and stone floors doesn’t mean you have to forgo the latest in lighting design and kitchen appliances. In fact, modern lights (always kept simple) will help play up the old, architectural elements of your home. So don’t feel that country living necessarily requires antique lamps and old stoves. In all of the pictures shown, clean lighting fixtures add a modern note to an otherwise earthy interior.
Images: At Casa, New York Times