Pull your Rustic Vogue interior inspiration from the Mountainview House in Aspen, Colorado. With views of the Red and Shadow Mountains, this Aspen home is a stunning retreat for the family who owns it. The Laura U Design Collective designed the space to “blend the traditional rusticism of a lodge…with the modern style of a pied-à-terre.” Learn more in the LUDC portfolio.
In the first few months of 2021, the comfort and charm of rustic interiors appear to be outpacing the crisp cleanliness of contemporary design. It has also blown past the sharp lines of mid-century modern interiors and minimalist aesthetics. With interest in styles like eclecticism and philosophies like Wabi Sabi on the rise, consumers appear more interested in warmth and personalization. Antique and vintage pieces — particularly those boasting historical significance or evoking nostalgia — have also captured an unexpected new demographic. Perhaps best, bespoke, highly textural spaces with warm color palettes and gorgeous prints have allowed us to effectively cocoon at home. They have offered an escape from the pressures of navigating our strange new post-COVID world. “Sophisticated yet rustic, cozy yet elegant” might just be the nationwide mantra of redecorated interiors in 2021. Today, Rustic Vogue interiors are poised to outpace both mid-century modern design and minimalism. To learn more about the Rustic Vogue interiors trend sweeping through homes across the country this year, follow below.
UNDERSTANDING THE RISE AND FALL OF MID-CENTURY MODERN AND MINIMALIST INTERIORS
WHY DID EARLY AUGHTS AMERICANS LOVE MID CENTURY MODERN DESIGN ?
Both minimalist and mid-century modern design celebrate clean line and simple, natural aesthetics. Over the past twenty-five years, an interest in both these design styles skyrocketed across the US. In her 2015 article “Why the world is obsessed with mid-century modern design” for Curbed LA, Laura Fenton explained the period’s appeal. Fenton wrote that most mid-century modern design “had gone out of fashion by the late 60s.” Despite this short slip into obscurity, “in the early- to mid-eighties, interest in the period began to return.” The 1960s and ‘70s pushed highly textural pieces and vibrant patterns to the forefront while the 1980s championed opulent, maximalist design. Fighting against a significant lack of interest in the late 20th century, by the mid 1990s, “a niche market of collectors” appeared. By early Y2K, this market “had…driven up prices of the original mid-century modern design pieces.” This established mid-century modern pieces as luxury, hard-to-get goods. Even mass-produced mid-century modern design items from the ‘40s, ‘50s and ‘60s achieved high resale prices at auction.
DESIGN MAGAZINES USHERED IN A NEW ERA OF MID-CENTURY OBSESSION
Laura Fenton noted in her Curbed article that media publications and television programs of the early and mid-aughts largely repopularized mid-century modern design. She wrote that in addition to shows like Mad Men and films like A Single Man, “Wallpaper” and Dwell” contributed significantly. These two magazines “deserve much credit for championing the mid-century look.” In addition to Dwell, Wallpaper and Architectural Digest, the “now-mostly-traditional House Beautiful [returned to its roots and] devoted multiple pages to Herman Miller for the Home’s launch in 1994 (after having covered mid-century modern design extensively in the 1960s).” Renewed interest in mid-century modern furniture might also have arisen from the design world’s parallel obsession with contemporary art, wrote Fenton.
INTEREST IN SMALL-SPACE MID CENTURY MODERN DESIGN DECLINES
Furthermore, the “trend toward urban living” may have been a major contributor to “what kept the mid-century look alive” throughout the Great Recession. Fenton noted that mid-century modern design furniture was “conceived for the smaller post-war home.” It was also made to be lightweight for “city residents who moved frequently.” These last two elements once solidified the supremacy of mid-century modern design in the design world. Today, however, we exist in a post-COVID world. More of us are working from home and investing in our spaces as permanent reflections of ourselves. As such, the very elements that spurred consumer interest might also spell downfall for the mid-century market.
WHAT POPULARIZED MINIMALIST INTERIORS IN MAXIMALIST AMERICA ?
Just as the Great Recession and an increasingly urban population sparked renewed interest in mid-century design across America, so did it popularize minimalism. Over the course of the last twenty years, minimalism rebranded itself as curatorial and high-class. It became a sophisticated way in which to display one’s own material restraint and humility. Jia Tolentino outlines the rise and decline of minimalist design in “The Pitfalls and the Potential of the New Minimalism” for The New Yorker. Tolentino begins by noting that in 1997, social scientists believed a large portion of Americans would be minimalists within a couple of years. Arnold Mitchell and Duane Elgin estimated that “as many as a third…might be converted to the simple life by the year 2000.”
However, such a shift did not occur until 2008. It was then that the Recession’s housing and banking crises “exposed the fantasy of easy acquisition.” What had once been lusted after was suddenly viewed as “humiliating and destructive.” For millions of Americans, “it became newly necessary and desirable to learn to rely on less.” Public disgust with the excesses of this previous period encouraged homeowners to ask for and designers to pursue cleaner, less boastful spaces. Unfortunately, a growing interest by the general population in simpler, less ornate interiors quickly snowballed. A thoughtful, less-is-more approach morphed into “high-design” — which in turn translated to “high-cost.” Tolentino writes that a couple of years ago, Marie Kondo “popularized a form of material humility.” At the same time, however, minimalism became “an increasingly aspirational and deluxe way of life.”
POST-COVID CONSUMERS TURN AWAY FROM MINIMALISM
Tolentino recalls a moment in 2019 during which “Kim Kardashian West appeared in a Vogue video.” During the video, Kardashian West walked “through her sixty-million-dollar California mansion.” The space represented “a stark, blank, monochromatic palace that she described as a ‘minimal monastery.’” Tolentino writes that this video of Kardashian West demonstrated that “minimalism is easily transformed from a philosophy of intentional restraint.” From this, it morphs into “an aesthetic language through which to assert a form of walled-off luxury.” Sadly, minimalism came to represent an “acquisitive attitude that minimalism purports to reject.” The same token by which minimalism shot to the height of popularity during the Recession seems to have destroyed it in 2020. During a time of toil and pain, disgust with opulence and garish displays of wealth emerged.
When the COVID-19 pandemic hit, focus on the livability and comfort of our homes became not only important but vital. It was with this shift that the stark minimalism of 2010s interiors lost its footing. In light of these two concerns — distaste for the quiet excess of minimalist celebrity mansions and the growing need for nurturing spaces — minimalism has ceased to be relatable — or even remotely achievable. As more Americans search for ways to reestablish their houses as homes, minimalism and mid-century modern design have fallen away. This gap has left room for the emergence of Rustic Vogue interiors.
THE RISE OF WARM AND COZY RUSTIC VOGUE INTERIORS
Many who sheltered in place over the last year struck out in search of ample space, cozy comfort and a connection to nature. Those holed up in the expensive, tiny apartments of once-bustling cities were particularly intrigued. Thousands moved from high-octane concrete jungles to sparsely populated towns with room to roam. The pandemic encouraged millions to reassess their priorities. They chose to value both personal space and time with family over perfectly manicured interiors and elaborately planned events. It also forced us to prioritize home and human health. In this vein, we began to make choices that supported our mental, physical, emotional and psychological health at home. Elise Taylor explains this shift in priorities further in her article “Interior Design Trends to Know in 2021” for Vogue.
Taylor writes that “as a result of our newfound focus on 24/7 livability, some previously hot trends are falling fast out of favor.” She recognizes that the decline of mid-century modern and minimalist design share a singular thread. This thread is the fact that above all else, “comfort in all forms is becoming more paramount.” Quoting Timothy Corrigan, Taylor reiterates that which was outlined above. She writes that “‘the mid-century look was very popular.’” However, people are now “actually hanging out in their living spaces for hours at a time.” As such, “‘there is a strong trend towards furniture that is big on soft.” This includes “comfy sofas and chairs that allow you to lounge with ease.” Quoting Robert McKinley, Taylor writes that minimalism will face a similar fate. McKinley notes that “‘as we spend more time in our homes, we need more objects to hold our attention.’” Without enough stimulation, “‘all that empty space can [actually] be suffocating.’”
WHAT IS RUSTIC VOGUE INTERIOR DESIGN ?
Thus emerges the Rustic Vogue interiors trend. Rustic Vogue is hallmarked by raw natural materials, soft, warm colors and engaging textures. These elements ooze character rather than pure perfection. As such, the Rustic Vogue interiors style is open and organic, comforting and nostalgic. After pursuing Instagram and Pinterest, one might imagine that the style rode into public consciousness on the coattails of farmhouse and cottage core design. Not so, writes Karen Darlow in her article “Rustic vogue – designer Abigail Ahern explains the latest look we’ve fallen for” for Homes & Gardens. Rustic Vogue pulls a few thematic elements from kitschy cottage core and tired modern farmhouse aesthetics. However — in contrast — Rustic Vogue “turns up the glamour…for a more refined, contemporary look.”
RUSTIC VOGUE INTERIORS ARE MORE THAN EXPOSED BEAMS & KNITTED BLANKETS
Quoting interior designer Abigail Ahern, Darlow writes that “‘Rustic Vogue is the cooler, more sophisticated big sister of cottage décor.’” Not only is it moodier and offers more depth, but it is also “‘a little more cultured, a little more citified, glamorous and refined.’” For an elegant yet edgy Rustic Vogue interior, Ahern recommends leaving behind the typical neutral color scheme. Instead, she suggests opting for “a soothing, super-restorative, dark, earthy color…palette.’” To avoid the space “feeling too country,” Ahern suggests marrying country elements with a contemporary aesthetic. To achieve the look, one might choose “‘wooden floors, vintage rugs, hand-thrown pots and lots of botanicals’” for a layered, organic feel. These can be paired with contemporary elements like “‘modern lighting, contemporary artwork’” or sculptural elements “‘crafted from concrete.’” The key to creating an elegant and inviting Rustic Vogue interior is blending these elements seamlessly. One must do so in a way that is both warm and cozy as well as fresh and contemporary. In short, Rustic Vogue interiors are all about incredible, inspiring juxtapositions of old and new, rough and soft and bright and dark.
5 TIPS FOR CREATING YOUR OWN RUSTIC VOGUE INTERIOR
#1 GO ALL-IN ON INDOOR-OUTDOOR LIVING
To create a special and engaging Rustic Vogue home, one is best served by removing the barrier between nature and interior. To do so, take inspiration from the home’s surrounding environment. For instance, a rustic home along the California Coast will likely differ from one in Aspen’s mountains or another in the Montana plains. If the home has not yet been constructed, be sure to choose native woods and other local elements to truly tie in the landscape. If solely outfitting the home’s interior, try to reflect not only the natural beauty of the region but also the place’s unique history. Regional textiles, carved wooden panels, pottery, stonework and other special pieces reflective of the culture can add depth and mystery to each space.
#2 MIX BESPOKE, ARTISAN-MADE ELEMENTS WITH PERSONAL HERITAGE PIECES
Capture the homestead atmosphere of a country cabin without missing out on international inspirations. Do so by mixing bespoke, artisan-made elements from around the globe with personal heritage pieces. Place hand-tufted cushions by a grandmother or great-uncle from Middle America atop French provincial dining chairs. Layer a family quilt over the hand-hewn lounger created by a local wood-worker. Combining pieces from one’s own personal history with others from our greater human history will mix nostalgia with appreciation for artisans of yore.
#3 CREATE COZY ALCOVES
The foundation of Rustic Vogue is that comfort is key, but style should not be sacrificed. One of the easiest ways to create a cozy space with rustic flair is to cordon off a reading nook or game area. Create cozy alcoves by placing two sets of dark-stained wooden bookcases on perpendicular walls with a deep-seated, pale-toned armchair in between. Low lighting and a neutral, plush rug complete the look.
#4 PAIR CONTEMPORARY ART WITH ANTIQUE FURNITURE
Cut through the heaviness of dark wooden paneling or bare ceiling beams with dynamic modern art. In her article “24 Rustic Rooms That Strike a Balance Between Edgy and Inviting” for House Beautiful, Hadley Mendelsohn recommends pairing opposites. These opposites might be “exposed beams…[with a] fresh coat of white paint” or “abstract wall art” with unfinished floorboards. A combination of modern or contemporary pieces with vintage and antique elements prevents the space from feeling stuffy or oppressive. Industrial lighting and graphically-patterned tiles are two additional ways to cool down a rustic interior.
#5 AVOID OVER-DECORATING
Wooden elements — from ceiling beams and hardwood floors to wall paneling and furniture frames — dominate Rustic Vogue interiors. The unique grains and patinas of natural wood offer their own patterns and tones. As such, adding oodles of extra decor and design elements can be necessary and even overwhelming. To prevent oneself from going overboard with decor, keep the layout simple. Bounce attention around the room with a few key pieces — whether they be sculptures and paintings or large-scale lighting and ceiling wallpaper. Consider the function of each piece before adding it to the space.