‘Relaxed rustic’ is their cool new update on traditional country decor – and it’s not hard to fall for the look, which seems tailor-made for the soothing, tranquil settings we all crave in these current stressful times.
It takes inspiration from nature, and there’s something truly comforting about reflecting the great outdoors in our homes, when our freedom to roam is so limited.
“We need spaces where we can switch off, feel comfortable and instantly relax, especially at the moment,” agrees Niki Brantmark, author of Relaxed Rustic: Bring Scandinavian Tranquility And Nature Into Your Home, a beautifully illustrated guide to the style.
“Generally, we’re seeking more ‘rustic’ touches because they bring texture, depth and warmth to the home while helping to maintain a wonderfully calm feel,” explains the British-born interiors guru, who lives in Sweden and runs an award-winning blog, My Scandinavian Home.
Brantmark believes the ‘relaxed rustic’ look can be created wherever your location. All that’s needed, she says, is a blend of sustainable materials, individually crafted pieces, vintage finds, and an easy-on-the-eye colour palette.
“You too can create a haven where it’s possible to switch off and luxuriate – albeit temporarily – in life’s simpler pleasures,” she promises.
Like the sound of giving your space a ‘relaxed rustic’ touch? Here’s three ways to conjure pastoral perfection at home…
Homestead is one interpretation of new rustic, but banish any thought of this being a bare bones Little House On The Prairie look.
Instead, this is an elegant, fresh approach which puts the spotlight on wood – highlighting its natural grain, tones and textures and allowing it to enhance a carefully curated interior, where each item has been chosen with care.
“The colour palette should echo rich autumnal browns – think of horse chestnuts – and offset those with calm neutrals, beige, white and subtle grey,” explains Brantmark.
“When you look at your home, you need to think about balance. Everything in your home should be useful and cherished. Swedes are good at finding furniture that combines form and function,” she adds. “Their priorities are for practical pieces which also look lovely.”
Brantmark advises being guided by the ‘less is more’ principle, as having fewer items means each can be given more space, and they can become individual home ‘stars’ in their own right.
Rustic Tip: Give rooms a timeless feel with a mix of well-crafted furniture, from a variety of different eras and made from beautiful materials. You don’t have to buy new; instead source from charity shops, flea markets and auctions as these items will have the patina of age and can be restored or up-cycled.
This look proves you don’t have to own a classic country cottage with roses around the door to live in rustic style – any modern space can be adapted to conjure a country dynamic and feature rustic-chic details.
“Think clean lines, striking monochrome and rugged stone surfaces reminiscent of snowy, weather beaten landscapes,” says Brantmark.
“Graphical homes play with contrast: sharp black and charcoal-coloured features are silhouetted by white walls and ceilings. The look is softened with warm textures such as cosy sheepskins, cowhide rugs, stacked firewood and foliage gathered from the surrounding countryside.”
Rustic Tip: Ramp up the light. Long dark winters are a fact of life in Scandinavia, so making the most of natural light is a priority there. Cotton or linen blinds instead of heavy curtains – especially in summer – allow more light to flood through windows and won’t block any view of the great outdoors. Painting walls and floors white is another way to maximise light and make spaces seem larger.
If you’ve fallen in love with rustic but a full revamp is out of the question, why not conjure a cosy nook which reflects elements of the natural world?
“It’s about creating an oasis of comfort and calm,” says Brantmark. “Plants, flowers, feathers and collections of pebbles all play a part in connecting the home with its environment, and creating a sense of continuity between the outside and inside.”
Featuring rough textures, such as raw slate and concrete, will bring a space to life, she adds, and can be complemented by the addition of natural wood and rattan.
Rustic Tip: Colour is gradually seeping into Scandinavian homes but be sparing with bright shades. Earthy, calm soothing tones – such as gentle greys, soft blues, pale greens or subtle shades of brown – are the way forward. If you’re nervous about plunging into the palette, paint the ceiling and leave walls white.
Relaxed Rustic: Bring Scandinavian Tranquility And Nature Into Your Home by Niki Brantmark, photography by James Gardiner. Available now.