Design tips

Modern Country Style For Contemporary Living

20 July 2017

A country house can be a challenge to design, particularly if you are used to living in a city. The move to the countryside is often accompanied by a change of lifestyle involving family, dogs and mud!

To me, comfort is at the heart of a country home. That doesn’t mean you need to compromise on elegance and style. Here are my top 5 tips for making this style work for you.


Country interiors are often associated with fuss and florals.  But a country home has so much of it’s own character you need to let the architecture shine. Your furnishings shouldn’t compete with the features of the room.

Take the example of this Grade II listed house with incredible beams and a huge fireplace. The key to this room was to add warmth and texture and create a welcoming atmosphere. Simple curtains ensure the windows and beams are enhanced. By layering textures, such as wool and linen, the room avoids feeling bland and flat.

Lisa Bradburn. Interior designer, Sussex. Contemporary country interiors. Cosy living space with wooden beams

Soft furnishings and fabrics often make a room in a country house. Although the architecture defines the room it is the fabrics and textiles that give the space feeling. Layering different textures really brings a room to life. By different textures I mean how things feel to the touch. Texture also provides contrast, which is essential for visual interest.

One of the key ways to add texture is through flooring. Nothing beats the sensation of a soft wool rug.  I avoid sisal! Rugs are also a great way to pull together a scheme, bringing together all the colours of the room. You can then pick up these colours through furnishings, cushions and curtains.

Lisa Bradburn. Interior designer, Sussex. Contemporary country interiors. Cosy living space with purple accents
Lisa Bradburn. Interior designer, Sussex. Contemporary country interiors. Purple cushion detail

A splash of bold colour can really work alongside more traditional tones. Take a traditionally shaped chair, reupholster it in a contemporary fabric and add a bold trim. Immediately it has a more modern edge but without jarring with it’s country setting. I have written a more detailed article about some of the bold country paint colours you could use here. 

Lisa Bradburn. Interior designer, Sussex. Contemporary country interiors. Living space in shades of blue, grey and yellow

The key to using prints is to get the scale right. Too many patterns and too many of the same scale and the patterns will be fighting for attention.

If your room is small use smaller prints and less of them. Then simply introduce one larger pattern, on a cushion is a good place. A larger room can typically handle larger prints.

Take this example in a country house bedroom. Having one large cushion in a large scale and one in a small scale means neither print is competing for your eye. It simply feels calm and relaxing.

You can always swap the cushions if you get bored of the pattern whereas wallpaper or upholstered furniture is a little more permanent!

Lisa Bradburn. Interior designer, Sussex. Contemporary country interiors. Cosy country bedroom

Furnishings and flooring need to withstand the constant flow of people and the occasional brush of a muddy dog!

For flooring, stone and wood ages beautifully.  But be wary of stone in old houses.  Underfloor heating is often difficult to install and without it stone can feel very cold. If you love stone just ensure you layer up with rugs.

For fabrics natural fibres work really well in country homes. Wool brings cosiness and you can easily avoid any scratchiness by choosing wools that are mixed with silk for instance. Woven linens also look beautiful and offer a relaxed elegant style that withstands wear.

If you have young children consider patterns to disguise spills and sticky fingers. With dogs also consider whether their hair colour works with the fabrics you plan to use. It sounds a crazy idea but if you have a light haired dog avoid very dark fabrics and vice versa!

If you are seeking inspiration for your country home take a look at the examples in the Portfolio section of Interior Design in Sussex or I have included some additional tips on blending a traditional home with modern country design in my article here.