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Modern Rustic: The New Interiors

Modern Rustic: The New Interiors

Dorset based interior designer Charlotte Starling of Velvet & Dash  on Modern Rustic and where to source it in the South West 

You’ve just bought the country house of your dreams,  now you want to create a home which is authentic not flash, not self-conscious nor heavily styled, just laid-back, pared-down elegance involving natural materials, skillfully-designed simple furniture and muted colours – well then look no further than Modern Rustic.   

Modern Rustic is a style which has emerged in interiors in the last few years.  It is a back-to-basics look which places the emphasis on mixing the old with the new and achieving a space which is both unfussy and calm.  A welcome departure from the twee frou-frou of the 80s and 90s country style with its pastel ginghams and slightly shouty paint finishes.   

Also known as ‘rough luxe’, it’s all about teaming the rough with the smooth.  Using textures to provide contrast is key.  A soft sheepskin against a steel chair, a whimsical chandelier with a brick floor, a woven wicker basket against a timber wall.  (Try Brush 64 in Wiltshire).  The trick is not to cover anything with paint or wallpaper that would instead be better laid bare.   The combination of exposed natural features like brick or wood juxtaposed with modern lines, hardware and accessories is what you are aiming for. 

Although modern rustic does use vintage and up-cycled pieces, it mustn’t be confused with an entirely vintage look, as it is about combining a few carefully-chosen finds with contemporary materials and know how.  (I love furniture from Benchmark in Kintbury for contemporary classics).

Use colours and textures which link naturally between outside and in.  Upholster bar stools in sleek conker brown leather, tile a floor in coppery pink terracotta.


Mix up smooth and reflective surfaces for example by lining up earthenware bowls on a galvanized steel shelf. 

 Let the quality of the materials do the talking and keep the colour palette harmonious. (Rose of Jericho in Dorset, do the best chalky paints in muted tones).   The secret is not to let it tip over into looking too rustic or homespun.  So a polished concrete surface will keep the look functional and utilitarian.  (Try Concrete Carrot).    And heavy linen will make unpretentious curtains or chair covers

What’s great about this style is that you can tailor it to your requirements.  A state-of-the-art cooker or fridge will sit happily alongside an antique cupboard and floorboards, thus avoiding either a sleek minimalist look or out and out rusticity but something much more individual. 

Of course there’s always the danger that such elegant simplicity can start to look somewhat po-faced if you carry it too far.  So think about adding a fun twist or two with the addition of a quirky clock or my current favourite, a fairground light from Velvet & Dash Interiors.  A little shot of fun to finish off with.    


Charlotte Starling www.velvet-dash.com 

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