Wednesday, July 13, 2011

7 Steps to Creating a Modern Country Style

{Please welcome Sarah from Modern Country Style today!}

Modern Country Style is more about a way of life than just being a specific look. Not limited by any means to those living the rural idyll. The Modern Country ethos is all about taking the very best of Traditional Country, its warmth, comfort, appreciation of hand-made crafts and combining it with the best of what modern life has to offer.

We moved out of London to an Edwardian house nestled in a small Market Town in the Cotswolds. Our home has needed a huge amount of renovating, but by adding the right pieces and choosing the palette with care, I've been able to create a Modern Country look that I adore. Homely, relaxed and stylish.

Here are my seven steps to Modern Country Style. Of course, there's more to the look than this, but these seven simple steps will get you well on your way.

Step 1: Use of Color

Probably the most prominent marker of the Modern Country look is the delicious yet delicate use of colour. Think of and be inspired by winter seascapes: the gentle grey-blue-greens of a rough sea and the browns, greys and off-whites of smooth stones on a pebble beach sum up this palette beautifully. Yet it needn't look bland. By adding the odd touch of a stronger colour, in my case I've chosen cherry red accents, a surprise element is added.

Just as important is the way in which colour is used. No fussy details are needed. Simple blocks of colour highlighted by the crisp, sharp contrast of soft white woodwork.

Our dining room is a perfect case in point. Painted with Earthborn's 'Gregory's Den', a gentle creamy green-grey, this color provides a serene backdrop to one of our main living areas. Perfect for family tea-times with our four wonderfully energetic children.

Step 2: Robust Elegance

When choosing how to decorate we've tried to create a home that is beautiful to look at, but also practical for daily life. Yes, it's a family home but it needn't be dull because of that. Everything should work beautifully well: both for us aesthetically and for day-to-day living with four young children.

Modern Country Style is a look that can stand up easily to daily living - dogs clambering on the sofas and children rolling on the floor. With four little ones I want a house that looks as good when it's messy as when it's scrupulously tidy. Modern Country Style offers just that in spades: robust yet restful.

Step 3: Texture

Modern Country differs from Traditional Country in its limited use of pattern. But that doesn't mean a lack of visual appeal. Instead, interest comes from building up layers of texture. Simplicity is key.

Here in our Master Bedroom I've used The White Company crisp white bedlinen to create an air of refined luxury. I wanted to create a 'Princess and the Pea' feel to the bed. Remember that fairytale? So an incredibly plumptious chocolate-grey velvet throw was added, which has a silk border. Modern Country Style at its languorous best.

Natural materials work perfectly here: wood, velvet, cotton and linen bring the warmth of the country to prevent this look from ever feeling stark.

At the end of the bed, I've placed an old suitcase of my mothers, which is perfect for storing seasonal bedding.

Step 4: Establishing Home

Creating places for friends and family to gather is an essential part of Modern Country Style. We don't have a table and chairs in our kitchen, so in the dining room I've used a paler version of the paint we used in our kitchen (Farrow and Ball Blue Gray) to bring unity to the two spaces.

This means when our children are sitting at the table doing their homework and our friends are round enjoying a glass of wine (or two), I can be pottering in the kitchen and still enjoy the pleasure of their company.

Step 5: Mixing Old and New

Getting the balance right between old and new is the key to this style. Too much old and the look becomes fusty. Too much new and it loses it's country edge. Soft Industrial is a term I use to describe the adding of artifacts with a slight architectural feel to a living space, which add interest and character. It's important to emphasis here that the look is one of a gentle nod to an industrial past, rather than anything too hard-edged.

In our dining room we've added an antique mahogany clock, which was used in a village school until it was restored by a specialist who was able to take out the old workings and replace them with a modern Quartz inner. That is the essence of Modern Country Style: the best of the old with the best of what's new.

In front of a huge gilt mirror, resting on a radiator cover in the dining room, I have antique printing press letters of my husband's and my initials. These are easy to pick up at vintage fairs or on eBay.

Antique bobbins from an English mill have been given a new lease of life as lamps, complete with new linen lampshades.

Step 6: Displaying Crafts

Enjoying the loveliness of rural crafts is one of the great joys of Modern Country life. There's a deep need in me to step away from mass-produced, churned-out-without-a-thought shop wares, turning instead to lovingly produced handmade treasures that can be passed down from generation to generation.

I love to engage in learning as many country crafts as possible and feel such a sense of pleasure in giving such personal touches a special place in our home.

Decorative cushions and a heart garland demonstrate the warmth that handmade pieces can bring to a room.

Step 7: Focus on architecture

An easy change to make in any house that needs added character is to replace all modern doors with salvaged older versions. When we moved into our house all the original doors had been replaced by ugly flat ones. We bought these from Oxford University as part of restoring the house and had them stripped right back and waxed.

By following these seven steps in your home, it's possible for you to create the relaxed yet stylish feel of Modern Country. If you'd like to learn more about Modern Country Style, or to see more of my home and writing, then come and visit at Modern Country Style.

{text and images by Sarah Plowman of Modern Country Style}
Thanks Sarah!


The English Organizer said...

What a wonderful post, and it made me feel very homesick for England!
The doors from Oxford Uni are fab... and I'm sure living in the Cotswolds is a daily reminder of the beauty of the countryside.

The English Organizer said...

PS - this link seems to work better, to visit Sarah's blog:

Sarah @ Modern Country Style said...

Thank you so much for having me, Janell! I'm thrilled to bits to have my writing on your House of Fifty blog. I'm a HUGE fan and think you're doing a BRILLIANT JOB!


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