The key to the rough luxe look is balance

Sledgehammers to the ready, please, as we hack our way into the rough luxe look.

Furniture doesn't have to be eclectic to work with rough luxe. Comfort, softness and contrast work equally well (two-seater sofa from €935, chair from €615 at Casey's Furniture).

It’s the style of warehouse apartments and New York-style lofts that makes near-dereliction fashionable. So if you’ve a renovation project in mind, you may not want to make it as pristine a finished product as you previously thought.

Some exposed brickwork peeking out from behind broken or cracked plaster, or a polished concrete floor are just two elements of the look. But don’t confuse it with the industrial look. It’s not about rough-and-ready functional products but relates specifically to surroundings, with walls, floor and ceiling forming the rough aspect to the style, and furniture, rugs, lighting and accessories being the luxury elements.

While you’re considering it, best not mix it up with shabby chic either, which is all about artifice and buying products made to look deliberately worn, or where paint is applied and then damaged to give it an aged look.

Rough luxe’s essence is about letting surroundings that have decayed or fallen into minor disrepair stay that way. It has honesty and acceptance at its core and there’s absolutely nothing about it that is contrived or created or previously envisaged. There’s also scale, lending itself best to larger spaces.

At a push, it could be described as the masculine version of shabby chic.

As an approach to home interiors, it might resonate with the parsimony of these recessionary times, but it existed in more affluent days too as an antidote to minimalism, neutral interior schemes and the immaculate streamlined finish.

To get started, furnishings filling the rough interior must be immaculate, exuding luxury, if not opulence. Ultra modern low-backed sofas in on-trend greys make unlikely but strikingly effective bed-fellows with rough walls. Then again, squishy velvet sofas in indigo, claret, emerald green, even yellow or the very fashionable orange, take the edges off rough surroundings.

For the more average size house, especially an older one, ripping off layers and decades of wallpaper achieves the look. We all know a steam-operated paper remover will tackle a considerable amount going right back to the original plasterwork, but anyone who has ever used one of these machines knows it’s impossible to get off those little faded pieces of 1930s florals and flocks without taking some of the wall with you.

Leave those morsels of paper as they form a less adventurous version of rough luxe that can easily be hidden with new wallpaper at a later date should you wish. You really don’t want the expense of hiring a plasterer to rectify an attempt at the look that didn’t achieve the desired outcome. In any event, the look is not meant to be contrived.

Balance is everything if you’re to make it work. Rugs will link the rough floor and walls with upholstery, opting for extra-large, if possible, but not wall-to-wall. Think even quantities of rough and luxury, and add in your most beautiful objects — an old painting in a gilt frame or an outsize black and white photograph. Either will work and you’ll find if they are beautifully finished they will stand out more effectively against a rough wall and probably be better appreciated as a result.

¦ Next week we’re keeping time with new clock designs


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