Decorating & Design

December 3, 2008

Modern Country Decorating

Q. We just purchased a house with knotted pine finishing (all baseboards, casings and cabinets are pine). How can we furnish the family room and change valances so that the room is more modern while still matching the pine finishing and the “country” feel that it gives off?

— G.M., Calgary, AB

A. Creating the rustic-modern (or “new country”) look is about mixing timeworn and organic elements with modern pieces. You will need to replace a few pieces in your living room to create this style.

For a more modern look, consider purchasing upholstered furniture with clean, straight lines in a neutral shade. Ultrasuede fabric would work nicely as it provides some texture and warmth while maintaining a modern edge.

Replace your coffee table with one in a lighter stain than your current table in a sleek design that will work well with the fireplace’s pine mantle. For a more eclectic look, think about purchasing a mid-century modern style coffee table. Classic furniture pieces from this era work particularly well with the new country aesthetic and can be found at flea markets or stores that specialize in this style.

Think about replacing your armchair with an espresso brown leather club chair in a clean yet substantial style.

Your current lamps are too feminine for the room. Choose a slender style with a timeworn appearance. The mirror above your sofa is too small and ornate — try a large piece of contemporary artwork here instead. If you really want a mirror in the space, hang one that has a thick, straight-edged frame in a deep brown or black frame. Keep the small console table at the entrance of your living room, but update it by placing a bunch of long decorative branches or twigs in a large glass cylinder vase on top. This will also add some interest to the wall space above the console table.

Replace the valance with drapery panels for a clean, up-to-date look and added privacy when needed. Hang crisp ivory or sand-coloured extra-wide twill panels long enough to just touch the floor. These would look great hung on a nickel rod with simple ball finials.

An area rug placed overtop the wall-to-wall carpet will help define the seating area and introduce some pattern into the space. Choose a rug with an antique-looking organic pattern that will contrast nicely with your new tailored furniture.