Join the country club and bring your home up to date in style
Country style's got many faces – it can be rustic, charming and chintzy, cool and modern or even a mix of all three. Gabrielle Fagan harvests three chic looks for country lovers
COUNTRY style's surely one of the most timeless, adaptable and family-friendly looks around, with its emphasis on comfort and informality. Even if you don't live in a picture book cottage adorned with roses, a stately home or a cabin set in the woods, you can still embrace rustic chic.
Well-loved furniture (a distressed finish is an asset), natural materials and interesting textures are vital ingredients. Then all that's needed is a little flair to choose a look which perfectly suits your rooms.
"I love a traditional, timeless country look and all the charm that comes with it," says Samantha Parish, interior design account manager at Hypnos Beds.
"By using a selective colour palette of soft neutrals, mixed with darker, woodland greens and river blues, you can create a stunning country lodge-style that's luxurious and homely in equal measure. Play around with different looks and enjoy a pastoral scene no matter the view outside."
Nature's palette and floral designs are the classic decor choice and will create a fresh, colourful interior that brings the outdoors in.
"Once the preserve of the mock-Tudor brigade, country style is fast becoming a multi-faceted look, which is increasingly finding its way into diverse types of property," says Alison Cork, founder of online interiors company Within.
"Florals and toiles are making a comeback, and these can look decorative and feminine set against white-washed walls, or will soften a slightly more macho scheme featuring exposed brick work and wooden beams.
"There's no end to the versatility of country, which is why it's endlessly popular and one of the easiest and most affordable schemes to create."
GET THE LOOK: Laura Ashley's synonymous with country style, with interpretations to suit every taste. Its Aviary Garden design of delicate leaf and birds, currently reduced online, is truly charming. Wallpaper, £19.50 a roll, Bed Set (Double), £48, and Aviary Garden Apple Ready Made Curtains, from £47.50 (made to measure also available).
An Aga's surely an essential for a traditional country cottage and a light pink Rose shade has now been added to colour choices for the iconic range cooker, which starts from £4,995.
PASTORAL TOUCHES: A Pink Large Floral Lantern, £9 from the At Home With Ashley Thomas range, Debenhams. Foxglove Cushion, £14.99, Wyevale Garden Centres (available at larger stores from the end of July).
Play with texture, scale and well-worn finishes for a look which is relaxed and eclectic.
"The country aesthetic can be achieved in many different ways, however, I prefer country with a vintage, rustic feel," says Jenny Seabrook, buyer at Topps Tiles.
"Mixing different textures and materials helps create a subtle layered look, whilst textured linear tiles create a brick effect, perfect for recreating an exposed barn wall.
"For a more traditional style, opt for a pattern and play around with dimensions and different layouts to inject a modern twist. Arts and Crafts-inspired floral and encaustic designs work perfectly with French-style wooden furniture with a distressed finish."
GET THE LOOK: Opt for a natural palette of shades, ranging from soft browns to mustards and creams. Archivo Lattice Tiles, inspired by hand-painted terracotta tiles, partnered with plain Archivo tiles, both £95.36 a square metre, Topps Tiles, could look stunning on a feature wall or in a rustic kitchen.
Scandinavians are masters of country style and Swedish designer, Sandra Isaksson, proves it, with her highly appropriate woodland village design Tingleby Wallpaper, £49 a roll, Unique & Unity.
Traditional painted furniture is so attractive and Barker & Stonehouse's Aurora collection is painted in a subtle shade of driftwood and limestone white, and as an added bonus is currently reduced. An Aurora 7 Drawer Tall Chest, was £725, is now £499. Add extra seating with the store's Urchin Knitted Pouffe, £69. Accessorise with wool cushions and throws from Yorkshire-based company Bronte by Moon. Multiblock Cushion, in mustard, £49.95. Storage for everything, from logs to toys, is essential and a Natural Hessian Basket Set, £100, The Farthing, would be perfect for keeping floors clear of clutter.
PASTORAL TOUCHES: Animals are surely essential in a bucolic setting, but there's no need to go hunting to bag a stag trophy when online interiors company Within has a Stag's Head Lamp, £95. Give stable room to a Horses Head with a distressed white finish, £59, Barker & Stonehouse.
This fresh reinvention of country conjures a calm, uncluttered, refined atmosphere, allowing beautifully-crafted furniture and possessions to star.
"New country makes a historical style statement which is quintessentially British," enthuses John Sims-Hilditch, managing director of furniture specialists, Neptune.
"There's a comfortable confidence about this look that makes it easy to live with and, because there's no rigidity or rules for this interpretation, there's the freedom to mix old with new, and contrast tradition with innovation.
"It's a nod to tradition, yet gracefully chic, so you can celebrate our cultural heritage happy in the knowledge that your rooms will look bang up-to-date."
GET THE LOOK: Tongue and groove panelling or walls painted in soft stone or cream shades are a perfect soothing backdrop. Neptune's statement pieces would dress any room in appropriate style. My favourite's a Harrogate Extending Table, in Lily, £1,140, which seats six to 10 people, and a matching dining chair, £215. Delineate an eating area with lighting - try an overhanging Tennyson Pendant light, £85, also from Neptune.
For stately home grandeur, look no further than a John Lewis Croft Collection Melrose Grand Sofa, in Darwen French Grey, £1,800. The Croft Collection also features unfussy furniture in pale, natural and cleanly painted woods. An Atelier Bar Table, £499. Zone an area with the Croft Braid Rug, in Ivory, from £190.
PASTORAL TOUCHES: Demi Stool, upholstered in Maritime Grey, £99, Swoon Editions. Newgate Gallery II Wall Clock, £109 (was £129), Barker & Stonehouse.
:: COUNTRY SOURCES
Aga: 0845 712 5207/www.agaliving.com
Barker & Stonehouse: 0333 331 4726/www.barkerandstonehouse.co.uk
Bronte By Moon: www.brontebymoon.co.uk
Debenhams: 08445 616 161/www.debenhams.com
The Farthing: 0844 567 2400/www.thefarthing.co.uk
Hypnos Beds: www.hypnosbeds.com
John Lewis: 0845 6049 049/www.johnlewis.com
Laura Ashley: 0871 230 2301/www.lauraashley.com
Neptune: 01793 427 450/www.neptune.com
Swoon Editions: 020 3137 2464/www.swooneditions.com
Topps Tiles: www.toppstiles.co.uk
Unique & Unity: 0845 605 9699/www.uniqueandunity.co.uk
Within: 020 7087 2900/www.withinhome.com
Wyevale Garden Centres: 0344 272 3000/www.wyevalegardencentres.co.uk