Old interiors have magic in them, but just as no one will wear their mother's polyester bell-bottom trousers today, but will look for their contemporary interpretation, no one will want to live in...
For as long as I can remember I have always been attracted to premium rusticity. Tents and mountain chalets were not for me. I obviously tried them, but quickly had to "escape" for a while to a hotel with better shower and a fluffy white duvet. Preferably in a revitalised old monastery or - even better - a modern barn in the style of Office Brabant, which I covered here.
There's something relaxing and casual about such "non-ideal", rough interiors. Something unusual, fabulous, something of a distant memory of childhood holidays, especially for city dwellers who find it difficult to part with the comforts of the big city. Old furniture and objects have a similar effect on interiors (you can read more about it here). Japanese ryokans (traditional Japanese hotels) and onsens (hot springs) are the essence of such casual elegance and a great example of such a premium rustic décor. Revitalized barns also tend to take my breath away, and sometimes even bring me to tears (yup, that's all me), especially when watched on BBC's "Grand Designs".
Just as it is possible to successfully revitalise an old barn, it is also possible to give a slightly rural aesthetic to a modern interior. And here goes an important disclaimer - I'm an ardent advocate of sincere design, which involves weaving interiors into the fabric of their natural surroundings. It means that you musn't take such a project too seriously - if you live in a city don't pretend that you live in the countryside. If you have chosen to buy an apartment in a completely new building don't pretend it's an apartment in a building from the 1920s. The key to success in this type of project is, in my opinion, a certain restraint and playing with convention, the lack of which could lead us into dangerous aesthetic alleys. A traditional Japanese bathroom is of great inspiration here. For me it's an example of an honest, simple design that you can never go wrong with.
I have an impression that the fashion for retro rustic interiors is still on the rise and it seems to be most evident in children's rooms and bathrooms. As an aesthete mum I will probably write more about the former, but for now I would like to focus on bathrooms. Here's how to subtly give them a slightly rural, traditional feel.
Those who are ready for a major overhaul of their bathroom should definitely take a look at a catalogue of an Italian (of course) brand Disegno Ceramica, which, as part of its Catino line, has launched washbasins with wooden platforms and hanging soap dishes. They recall simple countryside baths, but also are a phenomenal interpretation of Japanese bath accessories: a cedar stool and bucket. Such a washbasin or washbasins would also be perfectly complemented by a traditional Japanese wooden ofuro bathtub. Keep in mind, however, that in Japan the bathtub is not used for washing, but for relaxing and warming the body. You should therefore plan space in your bathroom for even a small shower, over - or under - which you wash yourself, preferably using a cedar stool and washing off any soap residue with water from a cedar-copper bucket. It would be ideal if these were original Japanese accessories made of hinoki cedar, which not only tolerates contact with water perfectly, but also smells phenomenal. With so many 'stars', everything else should be as simple and neutral as possible.
Another interesting option is to introduce a stone raw sink or bathtub into the kitchen or bathroom. This super strong rustic accent does not need any additional additions. Everything else should be modern and simple, but of course you can go crazy with small accessories reminiscent of old pharmacies, which go very well with such easthetics.
The absolute master of creating such a retro bathroom scenery is the Australian brand Aesop well known to all aesthetes. Each of their shops looks different. What they have in common, however, is a consistent design approach that uses sustainable design, weaves into the existing urban fabric and uses a local design language. Their retro-style shops are truly stunning which makes it impossible not only to walk away empty-handed, but also not to plan a renovation of your own home.
To recreate the atmosphere of a Japanese onsen in your bathroom without going through a huge renovation, it is worth following a few simple rules: stick to organic materials, atmospheric light and take care of simple accessories. If you haven't originally used stone in the form of wall cladding or tiles, you can introduce it in the form of accessories such as a soap dish, tray or containers for creams and trinkets. Wood can be also introduced in the form of Japanese cedar accessories, which can be easily ordered on Ebay, Etsy or any other Rakutens of this world (simply type in hinoki isu and oke in Google). I also hung a huge round mirror in my simple bathroom (I wrote more about the history and magic of a circle here) and two simple pendants made of milky glass, which resemble traditional Japanese lanterns (I wrote more about such lamps here). I keep my favourite jewellery on a Japanese plate bought at a sale organised by the owners of my once favourite Japanese restaurant in Warsaw, who had to close their business due to covid pandemic. Add textiles made of organic cotton and linen with rough and varied texture, hang a beloved photo or artwork bought at a flea market somewhere at the end of the world, display your local cosmetics in glass containers, pour scented oils into hot water and ... voila!