Easy country style
London-based Katrin Cargill is known for her relaxed approach to country decorating, evident in her books Swedish Style (Frances Lincoln, 1996) and Easy Country (Bulfinch Press, 1998). Influenced in childhood by country life in Switzerland, where her family kept a home, Katrin jokingly refers to her style as “Heidi meets Notting Hill” (a fashionable London area). STYLE AT HOME magazine caught up with her and talked about the essential elements of her style.
Katrin Cargill's style adapts well to casual living. Here are 10 ways to bring that relaxed laid-back look to your country or city home.
Simplify your interiors by asking yourself, What do my rooms need to be practical and comfortable? Katrin has a favourite saying: “Beauty rests on utility,” which is especially appropriate in summer, when homes should be easy to maintain and welcoming.
Paint your rooms chalky white – never stark white – or use pale hues that enhance and reflect natural light. If you do decide to go with white or cream, Katrin says, “team it with one bold shade to bring vitality to a simple space.”
Uncover your windows. If privacy isn't an issue, leave them bare and enjoy the view, the air and the light. If you're in the city, try to simplify windows by using unfussy treatments, such as a white linen Roman shade or plain drapery panels in country-fresh gingham.
Show your legs – furniture legs, that is. One of the most important design principles in easy country is having furniture with great legs and showing them.
Use mirrors to brighten interiors. “The Swedes are so clever,” says Katrin. “They have a lot of darkness, and they always do things like put one or two mirrored candle brackets or wall lights opposite a window, just to reflect even the tiniest amount of light.”
Bare your floorboards. The rich, mellow glow of a restored wood floor is a trademark of the easy country look. Painted wood is also an option, as are other natural surfaces, such as stone, brick or terra-cotta. Seagrass or other natural-fibre mats and woven-cotton rugs add an element of comfort at the bedside or demarcate a seating area.
Avoid excessive use of pattern. “Imitate the Swedes and choose simple checks and stripes in understated, elegant colours, or finely woven linens or cottons,” says Katrin.
Invite nature in with fresh flowers, says Katrin. “How wrong can you go with that?”
Minimize clutter by limiting the amount of objects on display.
Make the most of summer by furnishing your porch as if it were a living room. Whether you choose wrought-iron, wicker, rattan, wood or twig furniture, make sure it's made truly comfy with plump cushions covered in fabrics such as ticking or vintage florals.