Cali-cool Design School Part 2: Natural elements

4/13/2016 08:34:00 am HELEN STILES 0 Comments

OK, time for the next instalment of my Cali-cool design school series – rather delayed by a very hectic week exhibiting at the Country Living Spring Fair,  busy time with my interior design clients and Easter!  But today's post continues the theme of how to harness that relaxed, eclectic California Cool look at home (if you missed the initial post, then read it here). Today we're talking about bringing in natural elements – a key part of the Cali-cool look.

Whether it's wood, rattan, sisal or wicker, natural features and textures help to create that relaxed almost nonchalant air  – you know, the one that says 'I just threw this lot together and it happened to look great,' (I really didn't spend 2 hours styling the coffee table...) Californian style uses plenty of organic materials and natural textures: wicker, rattan, wood, cowhide, get the idea.

Aside from adding texture and interest, natural materials bring any room down to earth, and offset the straight lines and hard edges we all live with (things like tables, windows, walls!) Whether you have plain white walls, or have gone much darker, then natural elements really help to warm up a space. Try cowhides, sheepskins, faux fur, rattan, wood – anything that contrasts with the smoother, harder surfaces of your room and adds interest. Here are 4 natural elements to try:-

Natural hides – we all know that cowhides and sheepskins are great as rugs or thrown over sofas (or try one of our cowhide benches or coffee tables for something really striking and different). Hides add softness, warmth and texture and make any chair or corner so much more cosy.

Wicker and rattan always feature in Californian interiors. Baskets are a really easy way to bring in a hint of these natural, woven materials – plus they're always useful for storing away untidy items like newspapers and toys, or to house a large pot plant. Other options are layering a sisal rug (perhaps under another rug) or adding a hemp pouffe. It doesn't have to be much, but this natural texture definitely helps to bring in the relaxed, Californian vibe.

Wood is definitely your friend. Whether it's furniture (there are some great wooden mid-century sofas and chairs out there); built in cabinets; flooring or even wall cladding – wood effortlessly adds warmth to a room.  Don't be afraid to think outside the norm either, our bathroom features a reclaimed teak school laboratory top and shelves, which just warms up the otherwise tiled room.

This kitchen in the Californian mountains contrasts sleek stainless steel with lots of warm-toned wood on cabinets and walls and ceiling!

These pics of stylist Jessica de Ruiter's LA home demonstrate how some natural textures can really warm up a plain and simple space:

And finally...

Natural accessories. Don't just think about the furniture and flooring, you can bring natural elements in with accessories too for that laid-back Cali-cool look. Interesting stones, rocks or beach-finds are simple ways to bring a bit of natural texture inside. Just check out these fabulous shelves in the home of my favourite photographer, Carole Poirot. The natural accessories against a simple white backdrop look beautiful – dried foliage, sea urchins, butterflies and coral all sit together amazingly with rattan bowls, books, vintage glass bottles and that crazy woven cactus (I need one!!) Not to mention the very resourceful upcycle of an ikea bin into a lampshade!

So, to get you started here is a selection of my favourite natural accessories of the moment from Hide & Seek London...

//  1. Sisal vases  //  2. Moroccan baskets  //  3. Onyx bowls  //  4. Natural salt candle holders  //  5. Tree floor light  //  6. Woven hemp pouf  /

See you soon for part 3 – plants!

1/ Home of Jessica de Ruiter, photographed by Pia Ulin  2/ My home photographed by Carole Poirot  3/ Home of Rozae Nichols photographed by Miguel Flores-Vianna  4&5/ Home of Jessica de Ruiter, photographed by Pia Ulin  6/ Home of Carole Poirot, photographed by C Poirot