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Rustic Chic

Updated on July 10, 2011

Alpine Inspired Interiors

"Rustic Chic" which is also sometimes called "Alpine or Chalet Chic", may seem like an oxymoron but it's exactly this juxtaposition of styles and elements that make it work. It generally refers to rooms that have been designed as if for a mountain lodge yet are contemporary and fresh. Living just an hour away from the Austrian Alps, I see this style quite a bit and have grown to love it.

When combined with modern elements it can be stunning, and designing your interior around an alpine theme is a great way to get a cozy, rustic look that will warm you from the inside out on cold winter days.

Elements of Style

To get the look of an Alpine lodge you'll need to incorporate elements that are naturally found on a mountain range. Simple, honest materials such as pine, fir and cedar, which are used profusely, should be combined with other components that would naturally be found in these surroundings such as stone, cowhide rugs, sheepskin throws, linen curtains, and bone and horn accessories. Look for antlers and hand carved furniture. Felt, which is a really trendy interior fabric right now, is also popular in alpine interiors. To keep it from looking too kitschy, make sure that your major pieces have modern clean lines. For example, consider combining a contemporary leather couch with rustic wooden chairs. Use chrome, stainless steel and silver accents to add contrast to all the warmth of the wood tones.

Viceroy Snowmass designed by Kelly Wearstler
Viceroy Snowmass designed by Kelly Wearstler
Alpenraum Restaurant in Munich
Alpenraum Restaurant in Munich

How to Get Alpine Chic in Your House

If you're trying to decorate your rooms based on alpine chic then you'll need to keep a few things in mind. Stick with basic but quality materials. Start with your walls, floors and ceilings, keeping with natural colors such as shades of brown and gray. If you'd like to add more color, you can do that with the accessories. Make sure to also use lots of "pops" of white or cream to keep things fresh and bright.

Think in terms of contrasts and texture. A beautiful stone tiled wall could be your feature wall. To make it really stand out, make sure to juxtapose your other walls with another element entirely. You could cover them in wood paneling or even use felt, just as you would wallpaper, to cover the walls for a dramatic yet cozy effect.

Make sure to add a fireplace, even if it's only a gel fireplace (which can hang on your wall like a picture and doesn't need to be professionally installed). They may not heat the room up much, but they will definitely lend the room a warm glow, doing wonders for the ambiance. Using a stainless steel fireplace, like the one pictured to the right, on a rustic stone or wood wall would create gorgeous contrast.

Floors should also be covered in simple, yet quality materials similar to your walls such as wood or stone. Then consider layering them with a cow hide rug. If your floors are dark use a light skin, and if they're light then make sure the hide is dark enough to create lots of contrast.

Rustic Furniture & Accessories

Wood and leather can seem hard and masculine but when you combine them with softer elements such as cozy lamb skin or felt covered cushions, they become amazingly comfortable. Another plus to all of these materials is that they are equally durable. You can even through a sheep skin into your washing machine as long as you set it to "delicate" and use Woolite or something similar.

The Adirondack chair is perfect for this look as it actually comes from the Appellation mountains. And the sheepskin pictured with it comes in 15 different, beautiful colors. In the Austrian Alps, they use sheepskins to cover hard wooden chairs, making them warm and cozy. And the look is surprisingly affordable - you can get both items for less than $150.

Consider using felt in unexpected places like as place matts or decorative motiffs sewn onto pillows. It's an amazingly versatile fabric that can be cut and left as is because the edges won't fray and it comes in a variety of vibrant, beautiful colors.

When planning window treatments use a heavy linen or burlap. Keep them simple and modern to avoid looking too fussy. Grommets are a good choice here. You can even use felt to trim the curtains. It's saturated color will contrast beautifully with the washed out look of linen and give you an expensive custom look.

Article by Anne Alexander Sieder no part of this article can be copied with out my express permission.  For hardcore interior design fans, check out my blog


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    • edelhaus profile image

      edelhaus 7 years ago from Munich, Germany

      The look is huge here in northern Europe and is actually really cozy all year round. Course, it probably works better in a mountainous, ever-green, growing region than somewhere with palm trees and frangi-pani.

    • WoodsmensPost profile image

      WoodsmensPost 7 years ago from Arizona

      I really like the alpine lodge rustic chic look. Someday I will have my heavy timber home with this type of decorating. A nice warm comfortable place to sit and write my HubPages from. Good advice on how to do this. I enjoyed reading your hub.!!

    • edelhaus profile image

      edelhaus 7 years ago from Munich, Germany

      LOL, thanks for stopping by!

    • Jamie Brock profile image

      Jamie Brock 7 years ago from Texas

      I love the rustic look! Good tips.. thanks for sharing :0) Now I just need a cabin in the mountains with lots of snow around!