Can’t move to the country? Never mind, you can still bring a sense of rural living into your home through farmhouse style.
One of the hottest trends this summer in town and country is a dining table that looks as if it has come from a farmstead, where in days gone by, family and workers sat down to home-cooked fare.
The British may be eating out more these days, but the interest in baking and cooking from scratch which grew during lockdown has continued, and is set to be bolstered by the cost-of-living squeeze. This means a greater focus on dining tables, as we sit down at home to eat together.
Homely: A farmhouse table paired with contemporary black chairs. Inset: John Lewis dining set, £45
Indeed, Alison Cork, of furnishings and interiors business Alison at Home, believes the pandemic may have permanently altered our tastes.
‘For some, this meant an actual move to the countryside,’ she says. ‘For others, there was a need for the reassurance, authenticity and psychological comfort of furniture made from natural materials — and imbued with history and meaning.’ Another reason for the popularity of farmhouse style is its adaptability; it blends well with other trends.
For example, many people are opting for the modern rustic aesthetic, which is set to be a key homeware fashion in coming months. This involves combining a new or secondhand period table with contemporary lighting and tableware, and black or brightly painted spindle-back chairs.
If you are serious about table-scaping (yes, this is a word) a bowl of eggs and a sourdough loaf on a wooden board complete the look, which is increasingly appearing on Instagram.
You can spend a fortune on contriving artless simplicity. But it is possible to achieve this style on a modest budget by covering your table with a plain linen or printed tablecloth.
The £39.99 large, washed-linen tablecloth from H&M Home comes in understated beige, grey and soft pink colours that suggest rural tranquillity (hm.com). Farmers are busy people — the modern rustic look is laid-back.
A crisp, white tablecloth suggests modern city chic. A flowered design, such as the £24.50 Cath Kidston Forget Me Not style, is casual and will also conceal stains (cathkidston. com). Add to the look with a large glass vase (such as the urn vase from Marks & Spencer, £12.50, marksandspencer.com) filled with wild and garden flowers.
Straw table mats and mismatched new and second-hand tableware are some of the other extras that will transform the urban into the rural.
The £45 12-piece craft speckle glaze dinner set in grey or white from the John Lewis Anyday range gives off that farmhouse kitchen vibe (johnlewis.com).
And, of course, The White Company is a source of modern rustic accessories. Its extra-large seagrass table mat (£20) goes well with linen and trailing greenery strewn down the centre of the table along a runner (thewhitecompany.com).
Mark Winstanley, The White Company chief creative officer, sums up the look:
‘Nothing too formal, lots of texture, simple seasonal cooking and being with family and friends. Dressing the table with jute place mats, rustic linen napkins, white stoneware, simple flowers and candlelight — what could be better?’
He says that these details make a home ‘instantly welcoming and comfortable’.
Planning to buy a table? It may be wise to avoid anything too rough-hewn, so you can indulge in more formal dining if you wish. Look for an extendable design — this trend is all about conviviality.
If space is tight and you are adept at self-assembly, B&M has a pine table and four chairs for £80 (bmstores.co.uk).
Furniture Village’s £2,149 Hewitt oak, oval, extendable table comes with a bench and four chairs. The sturdy, crossframed base is available in oak or black colours (furniturevillage.co.uk).
Cox & Cox also has an extendable, oak, cross-framed table, but it’s priced at £1,850 (coxandcox.com).
It seems that, for some, the rustic dining table of desire is a trellis table of the type used in the 19th century by the vineyard owners of France. These were stored in barns during the winter and brought out at harvest time to serve dinner to grapepickers.
Well-weathered tables, described with such phrases as, ‘heavy signs of use’ or, ‘patina consistent with age’ are available on antiques sites.
- For rustic inspiration, try: mydomaine.com (search for ‘farmhouse’ or ‘kitchen’) and coxandcox.co.uk (search ‘Provence’).
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