Design & Style
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Ideas for Your Rustic Retreat

By Ann O'Leary
Published: September 1, 2007
rustic-decor1
Photo by Tanya Nygren

Context
Aside from the usual suspects like log siding, brainstorm, board and batten, even sheetrock (the most suburban and monolithic of materials) can be rusticated by adding texture to it. Troweling over the board with plaster and adding pattern – by raking it or even throwing straw in the wet compound – will give it a more interesting surface. A truly rustic room needs a rustic context, and this is a good start.

Rugs
I begin furnishing a room with rugs. Large bold planes of color work well against the linear effect of log or any outdoor siding being used inside. Navajos, Oushaks or thick-wooled Tibetans are appropriate.

Fabric
I am a big believer in restraint, so a room filled with only new hickory furniture or with only one style of fabric is not compelling. Upholstered furniture should have some body to it – textured chenilles work well, leather is a natural and a piece or two of an outdoorsy novelty print would be a harmonious mix. If I have found a novelty print, but the fabric seems too thin, I have it quilted so it is in keeping with the weight of the other furnishings in the room. When unable to find the perfect fabric to punctuate a room, I have it made by embroidering a solid fabric to my specifications. Your local embroiderer has the capability to scan and stitch designs like feathers or ferns or even your camp logo – which will create a piece that will distinguish your cabin or camp.

Selective Furniture
Now for the branch or twig. Be selective; a couple of well-made rustic pieces can be like sculpture in a room and should be treated and placed accordingly. An important entry piece or mirror will make a large impression – if it can be procured locally, all the better to tell the story. Good quality antique pieces are harder to come by these days, but scouring antique markets can turn up some gems even if they need a little work.

Accessorize
Accessories are what will make your place yours: display collections of fishing creels, paddles or small birch canoes together. There is power in numbers. Taxidermy is an obvious choice, and it can be displayed to make a larger impression. I recently installed a large wall of old prints and paintings intermixed with mounted pheasants … a show stopper.

Rustic can be inserted even on a micro level – such as moss. Try filling containers with moss and pine cones for a centerpiece – a small commitment with a big effect. Most importantly, have fun with it. When it comes to rustic, all rules beg to be broken.

Ann O’Leary, is a designer, author of “Rustic Revisited” and owner of Evergreen House Interiors in Lake Placid, N.Y.



 

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