The three R’s: rustic, refined, relaxed
Part 2 (read part one here)
Given the new sophistication creeping into design, rustic décor — a style initially identified by such elements as headboards fashioned out of palettes, coffee tables made from barn board sitting on small engine wheels, and ersatz vintage metal signs — can now seem just a teeny bit, well, hayseed.
Fortunately, the trend’s best features — dark and textured wood, sharp black metal hardware, hand-hewn textiles, and convo-worthy found objects — have not only stuck around, but acquired an attractive polish along the way.
“Rustic refined” was a top-of-mind term during a recent makeover of the family room in my year-round cottage. I wanted a casual feel: I’m not partial to overly designed cottages, preferring spaces that will let me put my (wet) feet up, spill a bit of red wine now and then, and in which guests can feel completely at home.
The colour palette was inspired by the landscape the Man of the House (MOTH) and I enjoy so much on the drive up to the cottage — golden bales of hay on shorn fields, bonny blue skies and lakes, velvety green forests stippled with stark black bark, and — at this time of year — meadows dotted with gold, white and red wildflowers.
The straw like shade on the walls is reminiscent of hay, and I think it tempers the slightly orange hue of the wood trim. I have no plans to tackle the huge job of stripping and staining that to a trendier hue, and there’s no money in the budget to hand the job off. So I worked with it. Likewise, the track lighting may be less than beautiful, but it’s serviceable, and it stays. (I did spring for a dimmer switch.)
I also don’t subscribe to the notion that if an item is “not good enough” for the primary residence, it’s not fit for the cottage, believing that aging tub chairs work just fine in a vacation home, as do local thrift shop or roadside finds, and second-hand linens with life in them.
Things I already owned seemed to work really well with the rustic pieces I liked from Urban Barn, with whom I partnered on this project.
I badgered MOTH into tinting the white ceiling paint blue. He now concedes it’s a pleasant reflection of the Vares rug from Urban Barn that anchors the convo area and pulls the attention away from a hard-not-to-notice pool table.
The slightly thread-worn patina of the rug is requisite to the rustic look, but MOTH and I also see a groovy, almost digital design that echoes the sequined blues, whites and greys of the lake.
The Picton oval nesting coffee tables (also Urban Barn) is made with reclaimed wood wonderfully marred by cracks, knots, and other character-enhancing marks. Its graceful, modern oval shape lends a note of elegance and the second smaller table is extremely useful.
In another corner is an old telephone table lit by a DIY lamp MOTH made from a hand-me-down urn and some bits from Lowe’s. It’s a great spot to dump phones, keys etc before heading down to the lake.
There’s also an ancient chair where stray books get piled. Our nod to Canadiana above is a photo — printed on canvas — of the great Canadian writer/outdoorsman Paul Quarrington https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Paul_Quarrington.
A print of various fish types in lovely maritime greens also belonged to Quarrington. Now it sits on a reclaimed pine console table (Urban Barn) with interesting weathered-leather handles. Tucked underneath are two crimson leather-topped stools with hammered brass bases (originally from a roller skating rink, we think) which work as footstools or ottomans.
Refining elements include well-fed pillows with fresh blue and moonlight-on-the-lake silver zigzags, and a semi-glossy white tray, both from Urban Barn.
Not only do I love this room, I’m confident that the new pieces will become staples. So when MOTH and I retire here in a few years, I can, with just a quick accessory switch, embrace whatever décor trend lies ahead. Just don’t ask me to strip and stain the trim!
A self-confessed Opinion-ista, Vicky Sanderson has been writing and talking about décor, design and lifestyle issues for almost two decades, and has tested just about every home product known to humankind. Vicky writes widely-read columns for The Toronto Star, Reno and Décor magazine, and her work has appeared in The Globe and Mail, House and Home and Canadian Living. She now also runs Around the House. Follow her on Twitter @ATHwithVicky, on Insta @athwithvicky and on Facebook