When an interior designer starts to become synonymous with a certain look, you know they’re executing it to absolute perfection. British interior designer Sophie Paterson is a prime example, as she’s fast establishing an international following and reputation for her rustic chic interiors—a look that’s become an inherent part of her signature classic contemporary style.
What does rustic chic look like? An ultra-tasteful balance of rustic elements and luxurious touches is a simple way to sum up the relaxed, sophisticated aesthetic. We caught up with the interior designer for a masterclass in this very fresh yet timeless look.
Since founding her studio in 2008, Sophie has experimented with a mix of rustic chic and contemporary design elements but began to really adopt this look in her projects after moving house. “Moving to Surrey had a big influence on me in terms of embracing a more rustic chic slant on my interiors,” explains the designer. “I now live in a property that is suited to this style, as opposed to my previous mews house in South Kensington which was very sleek.”
Hampton interiors and a love for antiques also played a part in inspiring the designer to tap into a rustic chic aesthetic. “I love interiors in the Hamptons [and] anything that has been designed by Lady Bamford—her Daylesford brand and buildings are the epitome of rustic chic perfection,” says Sophie.
“I also love weathered oak antiques, which I buy in Holland, and going to the Cotswolds and Petworth in West Sussex to look for rustic antiques. I’m always on the Internet looking at Pinterest. I have a huge collection of inspiration images for the rustic chic look and I also buy a lot of weathered antiques online.”
When it comes to achieving rustic chic interiors, Sophie explains there are go-to colour schemes, materials and finishes that work beautifully for the look.
“Greys, blues, taupes and creams all work very well with this look,” Sophie advises. “Stronger colours that we occasionally use, such as gold, yellow, green, red [and] purple, tend to overpower this look which should be very natural and muted.”
“I like combining different rustic materials, such as limed wood, grey wicker, linen, leather, wool and sisal rugs, and juxtaposing these with more luxurious finishes—from high-gloss woods to silks, cashmeres and velvets.”
Carefully chosen furniture pieces are vital for cementing a rustic vibe. Sophie looks to antique furniture designs, loose-cover skirted sofas in linen and furniture with a limed finish. These rustic pieces are then balanced with elegant updates: “I might add an églomisé mirror, faux shagreen elements [or] beautiful accessories, which ensure there is still an element of luxe evident within a rustic chic interior,” say Sophie.
“If you’re not sure you want to fully embrace the look but like the understated sophistication it can add to a property, start with a few small accessories such as grey chunky wicker baskets (the wicker you choose is very important—nothing too orangey or yellow, it must be taupe/grey and chunky) then add some rustic linen cushions and some crackle glaze pottery.”
With any look, there are particular elements that can hinder the style you’re trying to execute. For rustic chic, Sophie recommends avoiding overly shiny or synthetic fabrics as “it can clash with the natural elements.” Perfecting rustic chic is also very much about knowing when to work the look and getting the balance right. Sophie explains: “Unless I designed a country cottage or a ski chalet I don’t think I would ever design the whole of an interior with a rustic chic style, but most properties benefit from a touch of it, even if it’s just a couple of grey wicker baskets that add a contrast to the sleek marble in a bathroom.”
“You need to know when it is appropriate,” continues Sophie, “If a client wanted to use this look in a grand Mayfair townhouse, for example, I’d let them know that it wasn’t appropriate for the sitting room, but there is nothing to stop you from having a rustic look in the kitchen in any property.”
The beautiful combination of rustic mainstays with plush contemporary touches means the look has a multidimensional appeal, working a modern and traditional allure. This meeting of juxtaposing elements is what appeals to Sophie and keeps her referencing the look in projects time and time again.
“I like mixing in different elements into my interiors,” says Sophie, “and I’ve always been an advocate of subtle luxury rather than having lots of designer or statement items. I like to have a couple of statement pieces and then combine these with more understated pieces. The rustic chic items add a casual, collected look to the interior that makes it feel more homely.”
Of all the rustic chic rooms Sophie has designed, the living room and kitchen sitting area of her Esher project really stand out for her. With an effortlessly beautiful neutral colour scheme, aged accents, modern silhouettes and relaxed finishes, it’s easy to see why this open plan space features at the top of her most-loved rustic chic creations.
“My own TV room at home, which hasn’t been photographed yet, is probably my all-time favourite,” the designer tells. “It combines all of my favourite finishes such as grass cloth wallpaper, blinds using de Le Cuona linen, lots of limed wood with a grey finish, and cashmere throws.”
Another draw of rustic chic has to be its versatile ability to slot into different styles of properties. Sophie is a firm believer that the look can be translated into both classic and contemporary homes.
“It’s just a question of knowing which rooms should feel more formal and grand, and which rooms would benefit from a more relaxed, rustic look,” says Sophie. “Kitchens and bathrooms are always a safe place to start.”
Beautiful for modern and traditional spaces, summer and winter, now and years to come, rustic chic is one of those forever looks that’s in no danger of going out of style and promises to only look better with age.
Learn Sophie’s top tips for planning the perfect room.