Montana Rustic: Style Tips From Big Sky Country

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For those in search of a little country to go with their city, rustic additions are a great way to bring pastoral touches to the home. With western wear making a comeback—bandanas, boots, denim, leather, you name it—cowboy fringe is in, and the home is rife with opportunity to add a bit of homespun, Americana to the mix.

To break down the rustic vibe and how to achieve a country look, we contacted Erica Simpson, design assistant for Montana-based interior design firm and retail hotspot Kibler & Kirch, to get the 411 on making the most of a country theme.

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Paste: What are some key elements to bringing a Western country vibe to any house?

Erica Simpson: Rustic is natural and raw while keeping cozy! Some of the easiest ways to add rustic flair are wood framed mirrors and animal hides. Using hides is a great way to add a rustic vibe into any already existing motif. In a way, hide is just another neutral; it goes with anything. It can be as small as a lampshade, or you can go all out and layer a couple different cowhides as a large office rug. Just don’t go overboard. Not even cowboys have a purely country style. Adding a modern chandelier to a room full of rustic furnishings adds some dimension, or you can use a classic rustic piece like a wagon wheel, but paint it in a bright color you love.

Western-patterned rugs are also a classic, and lots of over-dyed or brighter, less traditional colors have been popping up in those rugs lately—very fun and versatile. The important thing is staying true to your style. If you are into modern design but want to soften it a bit with some rustic decor, do a coffee table with beautiful modern lines, but in wood rather than a more industrial glass or metal. Also, fake and affordable taxidermy is everywhere. A metallic deer head or brightly lacquered antlers are a small commitment when adding a little Wild West into your home.

Western art is an essential, too. Artists like Ben Pease, Rob Akey, Jean Albus and Gale Arvanites, have a twist of modernity and capture the culture of The West today.

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Paste: What are a few of your favorite rustic trends or shabby chic motifs you are seeing lately?

Simpson: Linen has that luxurious yet rustic feel and I can’t tell you how many new and amazing linen collections have come out lately. We carry Libeco at Kibler & Kirch, but even chain stores like Restoration Hardware, West Elm and Anthropologie have upped their linen options in color, pattern and quality. I am loving the triangle lines look that we saw on runway shows like Tory Burch making their way into beautiful soft rugs like this one at NoFacet--_-">West Elm. It has the Pendleton feel without the commitment of a full-on Western look.

An over abundance of white is also beautiful in the rustic world. White wood and metal go so well together—it feels fresh but comfortable; anything but boring. Shabby chic will always work well in the bathroom. It’s feminine, but rugged. A whole cottage feeling house is a little scary these days, but a cute little bathroom? Fun.

Gingham is getting sophisticated as well, and that natural mustard color is trending in a great way that blends seamlessly into the western landscape. Also, softening the hardness of wood and wool is spring’s trendy blush pink. Even dudes love it; I don’t think they realize it’s pink.

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Paste: What would you say is the hardest aspect of designing a room and vice versa, your favorite or the easiest?

Simpson: Personally, I have a hard time with lighting because it really does make all the difference in the world. It’s kind of like picking a wine for the label when you buy lighting simply based on beauty; you really need to think about the big picture—the vibe you want the room to have as well as the function. That’s a lot of thinking!

My favorite part of decorating is pulling colors and styles together that might not necessarily “go together.” In fact, I just decorated my dining room with what I’m calling “rustic/Chinese.” I paired Chinese warrior lamps with a Western rug, farmhouse table and a foo dog centerpiece. Decorating should be an adventure!

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