Guest blogger Sam Marquit
The elements of rustic design appeal to many people at first sight as well as on a deep, subconscious level. I find that earthy spaces with natural decor materials draw folks in, whether it’s into a lodge in the mountains or into bustling new york city apartments or hotels. The visual qualities created by rough, unfinished wood, flowers and other plant materials, and touches of naturally weathered metals can lend a sense of peace and bring back thoughts of childhood moments spent outside enjoying the natural world. I remember walking through the woods next to a stream and exploring for hours on end as a child, but have not engaged in such activities for years because of hectic schedules and family and business obligations. This is true for most, if not all, American adults in the present day. We long for those moments of contentment and a connection to the earth that we don’t often feel in modern cities and suburbs.
When I walk into a New York hotel lobby that incorporates a glass and chrome design structure, I barely notice my surroundings. We expect this type of design and decor so much that it ceases to be impressive even if it’s well done. Baroque, Elizabethan or Colonial moldings and marble tiling are also somewhat overdone in urban hotel and apartment lobbies. If I walk into a lobby in the middle of the city and find a big log fireplace and rustic design, however, I have to pause for a moment and remind myself that I’m in the middle of the city and not stepping into a ski lodge or mountain retreat.
Rustic decor can look up-to-date and modern. It does not have to be old fashioned or stuffy and can even have a feminine flair with the use of silk flower and delicate tree branch arrangements. Large vases and urns that contain substantial dried plant arrangements lend a rustic touch when placed in the corners of a lobby or meeting room. Creative interior designers can lean either way, making the rustic space either more hunting lodge or more romantic 19th and early 20th century Americana.
Cutting edge landscape designers place concrete accents, weathered wood furniture and pergolas, and wild plants and grasses in urban courtyards and rooftop gardens. The rustic atmosphere creates an oasis where busy city dwellers can relax and take in a bit of nature. I find that people who spend most of their time in the city and don’t get out of town much appreciate the contrast between the city and these small rustic areas the most. Our eyes are innately attracted to plants and greenery, and the harmonious lines of tree branches and tall grasses speak to our subconscious urge to get back to nature.
Rustic Americana doesn’t simply provide decoration. Designers can incorporate useful items like old steamer trunks used as tables and antique wagon wheels to separate sitting areas from one another. Comfortable, overstuffed leather couches and armchairs fit right in with the rustic design.
I find that the many aspects of rustic design elements have actually increased in popularity in the early 21st century. Our longing for a simpler time has a lot to do with the popularity of this design choice.
Photos credit: banjarinfo.com, inhabitat.com, creativehomeidea.com, woodlandcreekfurniture.com, trendirs.com, elmwoodreclaimedtimber.com
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