Photo: AS Creation
In hectic times, we long to live like people do in the countryside. We yearn for fresh air, sweeping landscapes, glistening lakes, for the time to slow down and relax, for the real and authentic. But how many city dwellers have a house in the countryside where they can retreat when it all gets too much? Even if that’s not an option, we can at least furnish our urban homes in the same style.
Organic shapes, natural materials and warm colours lend a home a comfier feel than cool, pared-down furniture and accessories. “An unaffected interior design style gives people the sense of groundedness that they yearn for in their own homes,” says Ursula Geismann, Trend Analyst for the Association of the German Furniture Industry (VDM). “Home living today is about the longing for authenticity, warmth, security and identity.”
And for this we can turn to an old faithful – country house style. It’s a perfect fit as it stands for all these values. The style emerged in England in the 18th century. The almost palatial country homes of the aristocracy and upper middle classes were furnished with a colourful mix of furniture and furnishings thanks to the characteristically English love of collecting: carved Renaissance oak furniture, gilded baroque stucco and rococo damask curtains were paired with luxurious Regency upholstered furniture. It was from combinations like these that the country house style evolved as a free and easy mixture that was still culturally rooted.
Its popularity then spread, firstly to Scandinavia and from there to Germany, before it went on to conquer the rest of Europe. But there is no clear definition of the country house style. It simply stands for an interior design style found in the countryside with a look that varies from region to region. In England, where the style originated, patterned fabrics are often the dominant feature, while the Scandinavian country house style tends towards minimalism. Mediterranean influences predominate in France and Italy – blues and whites are paired with the earthy colours of terracotta tiles or clay pots. In Germany, the design of farmhouses in the south of the country and rural villas influences the country house style.
One key reason behind the evolution of Country House 2.0 is the desire for security and belonging combined with a certain lightness. In many homes, the country house style works best with a contemporary take combined with Scandinavian home accessories and furniture. Giant farmhouse cabinets are paired with light-footed seating furniture; light floorboards replace dark tiles, and pale, flowing textiles lend the interior a relaxed, soothing ambiance.
The general trend is moving towards more organic forms that draw on nature, especially in seating furniture. Dynamic curves and powerful arches come to the fore as striking features. Organic design is soft and is therefore distinct from geometric and functional shapes. For real country house furniture, many turn to great handmade pieces, especially those with turned or carved details. Natural, untreated wood for dining tables or seating is a popular material; traces of use and roughened surfaces are in demand. This furniture does not need to hide its age. For soft furnishings, linen, silk and coarse-woven cotton predominate. Wool felt, leather, velvet and corduroy are among some of the popular natural coverings today.
Those who like to decorate can use seasonal finds from nature – driftwood, mussel shells, pine cones and sand are making their way into city homes. The seasons of the year can also be a source of inspiration with meadow flowers in the summer or decorative gourds and bunches of wheat arranged in old milk jugs in the autumn. It’s worth taking a look in the garden, too: clay, enamel or zinc cachepots can add a decorative touch indoors as well. Copper objects also work well with the country house style.
The colour palette is kept muted and as natural as possible. The brown shades of these materials are paired with pastels and lots of white, underscoring the restrained, simple country look. Furnished in this style, the home quickly becomes a refuge filled with comfort. “Family first” is the motto. We create our own retreat, but we’re happy to share its comforts with friends.