Wednesday, 26 October 2011

rough luxe

Rough Luxe has to be my absolute favourite trend from the last two years. On the eve of a new publication from Farameh Media (a luxury bound hardback complete with rough sawn timber slipcase) entitled 'Rough Luxe Design' and after seeing first hand the absolute beauty of the Rough Luxe hotel in Kings Cross last week, I've decided to investigate how renters can incorporate a bit of Rough Luxe into their lives.

First, what is Rough Luxe? At it's most basic level, this look juxtaposes raw, unfinished or aged materials with luxury, often designer items, and top class finishes. Think, beautiful chandelier against a backdrop of faded half removed wallpaper, or perfectly upholstered velvet chairs tucked under a dining table made of reclaimed floorboards. 

Rough Luxe hotel in Kings Cross

To be clear, rough luxe is not shabby chic (shudders) It's not twee faux country farmhouse, it is defiantly contemporary, often industrial and above all, authentic, nothing in the Rough Luxe hotel for example has been 'aged' 'distressed' or 'antiqued'. The style should be a celebration of the materials, the texture and finish of the furniture, the history the pieces pick up as they are used and reused by different people. The walls in the hotel for example, are the result of peeling off layers of wallpaper that have been there for many many years, it's domestic archaeology, it's not faked. The furniture is either re-claimed, upcycled (the dining table is made from old bits of Brighton Pier) or defiantly top end new luxury like the beds, the linens and the new drops of wallpaper. 

At first glance, it might look difficult to incorporate these ideas into a rented home. It's true that it's going to be difficult to get the wall finishes right and I would suggest that's an area to steer clear of, unless you're blessed with exposed bricks to start with of course. It is possible however, to 'reverse' the look. Make the walls the 'luxe' part of your scheme and team with 'rough' furniture and accessories.

image source: DillyDallas

These mirrors are from an architectural salvage company, a great source for authentic rough luxe. Car boot sales, eBay and Freecycle are also great options for finding old mirrors. Why not get a few in varying sizes and styles and stand them on the floor to make a feature? I've done this in our bedroom, it looks great & requires no drilling. I've mix and matched pictures, an old mirror with a beautiful scalloped top and the silver backing coming off (my grandmother had been using it as a replacement door on her coal storage so it was well weathered!) with a new gilt framed mirror and some smaller eBay finds. One huge old mirror standing on the floor will also work.

Furniture is a great way to get the rough luxe look. Tea & fruit crates are versatile and can also be stacked if you don't want to drill them to the wall. They are the perfect contrast to a sumptuous sofa and a luxurious throw.

Image source: A Little Bit Of Sunshine

Elemantal in Spitalfields is one of my very favourite shops in London, their reclaimed furniture is amazing. Many pieces are expensive, but it's great for inspiration and to pick up smaller items. They have everything from lighting & shoe lasts to huge metal lockers and old church fixtures. This old school table re-purposed as a dining table is perfect. Imagine it set with fine linen napkins and beautiful white china.

Image source: Elemental

Anthropologie is another favourite, their furniture is even more expensive, but as well as being a great place for inspiration, their accessories can be very reasonably priced.

While we're on the subject of chairs, it's not just second hand & recycled furniture that have the right rough luxe quality, new chairs in an industrial material will also look great contrasted with more luxurious finishes. What I'm trying to say is, that they key with this look is to stay true to the materials. New, well made furniture will acquire its own history as you use it, and last for years, so not only is it a good investment, but longevity in furniture is better for the environment.

These cult classic Tolix chairs are my absolute favourite and a clever investment for anyone with an outside space because they will look just as good in the garden as they do around a dining table, or used as an office chair. Tolix also produce benches, chairs with arms, bar stools, low stools and three legged versions. and in a rainbow of colours.

Image source: Cult Furniture

Storage is a fairly straightforward way to get the look. Metal lockers, drawers and cabinets (old or new) are easy to find and smaller things like trays and boxes can be picked up at car boot sales. Shelves made from old scaffolding planks would be a great place to house a collection of beautiful vases. 

For a real statement, group similar items together in one place. How about this for storing, files, shoes, or even CDs? The little label holders are perfect for keeping track of whatever is inside.

Image source: Linda Life

Lastly, one of my favourite treatments and so easy to achieve... it's the old recycled-door-as-headboard trick. So simple and so easy to find. Try your local council recycling centre or FreeCycle to pick some up for nothing, or eBay for local collection. Some people will even leave unwanted items outside their houses, or at least they do in my part of London. Another great place for picking up doors, is from skips outside houses being renovated, please do check with the owners first before removing items though!

Image source: Emily Hendersen

Some more great places to shop...

Retrouvious - Fantastic reclamation specialists, everything from textiles to lamps, furniture and architectural salvage. 
Labour & Wait - Functional household hardware, garden accessories and new industrial pendant lights.
Howie & Belle - A wonderful cornucopia of home wares, art and really odd finds.

Ben Penreath - 'Good things for your home' divine selection of home accents, linens, prints, candles and antiques.
Graham & Green - One of my favourite shops, their furniture and mirrors are stunning. Also great for gifts and small accessories.
The White Company - The last word in luxury bed and bath linen they also produce top quality table ware, candles and toiletries.

I hope this post proves that as a renter, any style is possible to achieve and although you may need to be a little more creative, that's surely not a bad thing...

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