Catch the next design wave now, writes
Take some coastal style, add a little bohemian influence, mix in some natural finishes and you’ve got what could be the next wave in decorating — California Cool.
This laid-back decorating look offers an immediate sense of ease through its combination of neutral colours, natural fibres and hand-picked pieces with a vintage vibe.
Early Settler buyer Monica Porter says it is about creating spaces with a relaxed feel inspired by the casual, cool lifestyle of the US state of California.
“This look is also heavily influenced by the informal and eclectic nature of bohemian styling, taking its design cues from boho fashion,” Monica says.
Home for the holidays
The idea behind California Cool is creating spaces that make you feel like you’re on holiday at home.
“The overall look is light and bright and creates an ambience that is clean, airy, welcoming and very relaxed,” Monica says.
“It’s that desire to calm our interiors and connect with nature as our lives become increasingly busy.”
She suggests choosing furniture and accessories in natural textures, such as linen, leather and canvas, and teaming them with plants, handmade objects and sentimental items, such as one-off pieces from markets or family heirlooms.
For hard surfaces, such as tables, sideboards and beds, consider timber, metal and marble in their raw state, and introduce softness through chunky cushions and throw rugs.
But always keep the mix eclectic to get the best results — that way the effect won’t be pristine and perfect.
“And stay away from any materials that look too manufactured,” Monica says.
For California Cool to really work, you need a light and bright space, so open up the blinds and let in the sunshine.
Lighten the look even more with pieces that create an airy feel, such as sofas, coffee tables and sideboards with exposed legs. “You could introduce a Mid Century-style couch or occasional chair, then mix in a tribal rug and plenty of textured furnishings, such as woven ottomans and cushions,” Monica says.
“The California Cool look is sophisticated, uncluttered and lends itself to our great summers, but is still comfortable and cosy, so it fits in well with our winters.”
Rattan baskets and chairs, wool and jute rugs with knotted fringing, and table lamps with simple linen shades and glass bases also work well. If the budget stretches, consider timber-beaded chandeliers and woven-fibre pendants, along with macrame wall-hangings and prints of tropical plants, such as palms and monstera deliciosa, and animals, such as yaks.
Stick with natural tones and subdued palettes for your walls and larger pieces, Monica says. If you’re struggling, look to the muted tones of nature for inspiration, then inject some bright colour with cushions, throws or artworks, which are easy to update or move around the house.
Soft greys, warm whites and tans are good options for a base palette. You could top those with bold pops of mustard, deep green or blue.
Just keep the colour pairings “calm and comforting” says Monica.
Eclectic but uncluttered
It’s easy to get carried away when you’re after an eclectic result. Avoid filling every last nook and cranny, or blending too many different styles together, says Monica, otherwise the space will become overwhelming.
“Aim for some empty space so the room can breathe — you’re going for California Cool, not California Cluttered,” she says.
She adds the look shouldn’t be too structured or formal.
“When your space starts looking too perfect and too contrived, you know you’ve probably gone overboard.” California Cool is flexible enough to adapt to different colour schemes from warm leather, jute baskets and brick (top) to soft textured tones of grey and blue (above), all from Early Settler. You can never go wrong by adding indoor plants.