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The Town House and The Country House

Written By Unknown on Friday, June 22, 2012 | 5:04 AM

When we think of a traditional town house versus a house in the country, we would be forgiven for making certain assumptions about the décor and ambience we would expect them to create. A stereotypical town house would be modern and contemporary, whereas a country house would be more traditional, may be containing antiques like a farmhouse or cottage. Is it true that people living in a city tend to opt for more modern interiors? And do people living in the country prefer a closer to nature approach?

The classic British children's story "The Town Mouse and the Country Mouse" is about two cousin mice, one that lives in the country and the other in a city. The town mouse is invited to the country mouse's home for a simple country style meal at which the town mouse is appalled and invites his cousin back to the city for a taste of the fine life with an exquisite feast. Whilst eating their varied and delicious meal in the city the mice are interrupted by a couple of dogs that force them to abandon their food and scurry to safety. The country mouse is prompt to return to the quiet security of his home, preferring this to the hustle and bustle of the city. The moral of this story is the acknowledgement of different lifestyles and that everyone has different preferences, sometimes even within the same family.

This ancient fairy tale, highlights the stereotypes of country living versus city life, but surely now that travel is so much easier and people adopt a much more nomadic lifestyle, when coupled with advances such as the world wide web, surely the gap between these differences is being bridged?

Is it not possible that contrary to the tale, due to the speed at which city dwellers now live, they do in fact want their homes to be a quiet tranquility of relaxation, almost like their escape to the security of the country. Or vice versa; a person living in the countryside may prefer the sleek, angular designs introduced by contemporary design, a contrast of modern living in an aged surrounding.

The availability and speed at which modern interiors can now be obtained and due to the internet, multiple TV channels and communications, all mean that like people, design styles and tastes travel much easier than in historical times.

A city town house, in its conventional form, is a home designed over three or more levels. Designed to save space, designers have built upwards rather than outwards and these homes often contain a garage, with just one or two rooms on each level. Due to the modern architectural design of this type of home, human nature assumes that this type of building would be a 'new build' and as such the decor within would be modern and probably minimalist in decorating terms.

A townhouse can however be made to have a country feel and can benefit from country inspired interior design. Aged country homes tend to have small warm rooms, just like the newer town houses and where they have antique design features, these can now easily be added to more modern spaces. Adding replica wooden beams to the ceiling, varnishing floor boards or adding high quality laminate flooring or tiles that look like traditional flooring also work well when trying to create a country home in a modern space.

Using floral patterns and natural materials are a must when trying to create a country décor, but as a bonus modern town houses do tend to have lots of natural light, an element that traditional country homes with their low ceilings tend to struggle with. Using a shabby chic styling is another solution to generating a modern country feel - where you could source actual antique furnishings and finishing, it is now much easier to find more functional furniture in a modern style but with an antiqued finish. It may also be more affordable.

Using light colour pallets such as white woods that have an aged effect, can be a good happy medium, creating a country appeal, but losing the undesirable darkness and gloom that a cottage may possess. Accessories are also a must when creating your country home within a modern shell. Traditional country homes contain an element of organized clutter, with ornaments, photographs and so forth on the walls and sideboards. Mirrors are an important accessory when trying to replicate this look as within the more traditional spaces they are used to generate light and an illusion of space. Ornate frames and over mantle mirrors are common practice in such a style and again you can even purchase modern mirrors in more modern shapes that have been aged and made to look chic or antique.

On the flip side, it may be that you are trying to generate a more modern or contemporary look in your country house. As mentioned with the town house, one of the most important aspects of this design style is to maximise the amount of natural light within the space. It is therefore not uncommon for country homes to be renovated to contain an entire wall of windows. Not only does this add an extremely modern design flare to the home, it also promotes outdoor living and bringing the outdoors in, making the most of the land surrounding the home.

Although a wall of windows is not always possible and so using light, bright colour pallets is a must. Clean painted lines and high gloss finishes also help to create a contemporary look. Avoid exposed wood and wallpaper or anything with too much pattern, with this design styling less is most definitely more. Due to this, clutter and items on the walls and sideboards should be kept to a minimum. The odd modern vase, bowl or cushion is fine as these can be used to add a splash of colour, but these should be controlled and have their place.

Natural architectural features should not be removed or covered, but instead nurtured. Even though a wooden beam in a room may not be a conventionally contemporary feature, it would be any interior designers crime to try and hide it. Instead you should work around this, making it an unusual feature of the room. Don't be tempted to paint it in order to add colour, but instead leave it naturally exposed, using other elements in the room to bring in the design styling you desire. Natural floors and features can easily be brought up to date if the rest of the room is painted in natural colours and the furniture used is has clean, glossy lines, resulting in an eclectic mix of the two styles working together in harmony.

The moral of this more modern article is therefore to, yes, accept that everyone is different, but to try and avoid stereotyping. In this day and age we are able to dip in and out of particular lifestyles, whether it is a way of life or a design style, to pull together a personality that suits the individual. We should embrace technology that allows us to learn about and bring lifestyles together, rather than simply sticking with what we already know.

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