Not the nineties - new rustic has an industrial heart

Kya deLongchamps sees a new modernity in our country inspired spaces.    

At one time any sort of rustic look with a high degree of wood inclusions spelled dainty country motifs, quasi-Victorian carving, hutches, paralysed tweed chickens and a hail storm of gingham and pine.

However, leaking from the pared back, relaxed living of the soft industrial trend, there’s a return to the simplicity at the heart of country life. 

Now, being cunning style cheats — what looks like it was fished up out of the farm-yard, we can trailer back from the architectural salvage yard, or haul in from the high street. 

Not the nineties - new rustic has an industrial heart

For larger projects such as panelling and even rusticating an entire room, new character can be worked up with an architect, clever carpenter, dedicated designer or builder. 

Whatever your budget — invite in a new country breeze starting with that traditional stage for sylvan good looks — the kitchen. Here’s how to bring the wood home.

Up the walls

Wall decoration as a compliment to traditional painted and papered surfaces is set to be the story of 2016 in interiors. 

For rustic dreaming everything from stacked wood off-cuts and palettes are climbing the walls, adding texture, warmth, acoustic insulation and real architectural punch for a reasonable outlay.

To get this earthy look, you do need to be a bit brave — try PinInterest where homeowners worldwide are hauling full scaffolding boards on end or screwing them up in horizontal planes over one entire wall.

Not the nineties - new rustic has an industrial heart

For a more 1970s buzz, wood can be cut to size and applied in small, disparate panels of varying depths. A headboard is a good place to start if you’re terrified but interested. 

For country charm, keep it naïve, neatly installed but without a sleek, metropolitan finish.

Plywood is polite if you don’t want a splintered feature, and in panels, it can be worked deftly around corners. Avoid OSB, which varnishes up well but with those flat golden chips says urban studio not down-home charm.

* Top tip:

Use one wall or a section of wall, (we’re not entombing ourselves in a splintery sauna). Contrast darker woods to fresh white areas of wall and yielding textures such as well washed cottons and rubbed velvet.

* Choice Products:

I have to bow to Wilson’s Yard of County Down for championing wood wall panels. They offer hardwoods and softwoods in scuffed up glory, including Georgian bead-board, and full period doors to fix up in a gigantic tapestry. 

Prices from €31 plus VAT. To have a go — take a section of rich, grainy sticky-backed faux planking (B&Q have a Colours .97m² product for €15) and ‘plank’ up a door or press.

New rustic kitchens

As far back as the 1980s there were a number of designers deconstructing the traditional country kitchen — Johnny Grey of the UK, is probably the most famous ( ).

Not the nineties - new rustic has an industrial heart

His rooms may seem soft around the edges with lots of warm, curvy wooden surfaces, free standing eccentric units and the stark meeting of concrete and aged timber in luxuriant acres — but behind all this is a high performing modern kitchen, only afforded by the rich and famous.

Reclaimed and deliberately distressed wood — bare and painted — can be pulled apart to make everything from lightshades to plank tables, chairs, benches, shelving and more.

Consider applying well lived-in wood to your kitchen in measured amounts, Set along the upright faces of a kitchen island, panels and boards left ‘in the paint’ can be stabilised with a water-based varnish and will not shed splinters or paint flakes.

By corralling the look to one area, you can still have that German slab kitchen, and even a civilised painted dresser will cosy up to a bit of rough on the side.

Settling that sleek range cooker against battered, oxidised metals and rubbed wood, just plays up its expensive perfection, (see main picture). Standard doors can be clad in character wood or built from scratch.

Ask around to find a kitchen maker happy to experiment with durable, touch safe finishes that won’t compromise the joys of soft close doors and modern convenience. Any bare wood must be oiled or waxed for stain-resistance and longevity in a kitchen.

* Top tip:

Colour should be cool. Copper, poured concrete and pale wood make a wonderful marriage of light and tone with uplifting, reflective surfaces. Commit to handmade, honest accessories such as pottery, un-dyed linen and blown glass to root the look.

* Choice Products:

Wood, stone and weave, from the beams to the brickwork, Emily Henson, famous for her contribution to cult retailer Anthropologie, and

Joanna Simmons nail the look. Ryland, Peters and Small, €28.99.

Floored for choice

Flooring in planks is the standard approach to an informal woody look, but boards are now wider and full of ingrained personality. 

Not the nineties - new rustic has an industrial heart

Ppale, dusty grey and 50 shades seduced to a deep slate, are the latest colours offered in washes to planks and parquet. 

You can go one of two ways, either bringing up the grain and mineral inclusions and/or deliberately over-writing with apparent wear.

Can you have some new rustic with a laminate? Absolutely, and there’s an impressive upswing in quality to enjoy with all the performance benefits of putting wood to one side. 

Top of the line in real wood and engineered boards is a wide plank with a dramatic variety of grain colours in maple (formerly ignored and now riding high), walnut or oak.

By choosing a paler colour, the damage, flaws or deliberate distressing is more apparent. Riven edges can collect dirt and the recessed lines between the planks will catch a shadow.

Ensure you see them connected and set up on a floor. If you’re considering a reclaimed floor, don’t shy away from nail holes, missing knots, and even short cracks — these are a part of the floor’s history.

* Top tip:

Steer off cherry reds and golds. Look for contemporary grey undertones and natural, unstained colour.

* Choice Products:

In laminates — the pale, stunner Pergo Winter Oak comes in a super-wide 189mm plank style sections and is 9.5mm deep. From €36 per m² with a 25 year guarantee. Matching putty allows you to fill and repair damage.

In solids — Smoked Distressed White Brushed Oiled Oak in a 189mm board has a gorgeous cement colour and oodles of presence from €45.95m², O’Flynn Flooring (Douglas, Cork), 


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