I’m Afraid Our New Rustic Home Will Be Depressing!

Dear Laurel,

I hope you can help me via a blog post, as I bet others also have this issue. But, here’s my dilemma. And yes, it’s another husband/wife locking decorating horns.

Okay, I discovered Serena & Lily through you and adore the look. And, I would love to take advantage of their sales. I know there’s one on right now.


Here’s the good news:


I absolutely love every shade of blue; I mean ALL of them. 

However, the bad news is my husband HATES blue. When he was a child, he had to wear a blue uniform for school, and thus, he grew to despise that color. 

He loves stained wood and earth tones and is okay with green and teal. Red is also okay.


We both love to hike and aren’t big on the sand, so we’re looking to purchase a rustic vacation home in the Adirondacks that’s about 2,000 square feet.


We plan to spend a lot of time at this new home and may even move there full-time in a few years.

Of course, we need to furnish our new rustic home to be.

Tentatively, I showed him the Serena & Lily catalog, and he said, “that’s nice,” but not my thing. It’s too beachy and too feminine.

After nearly 30 years of marriage, I knew that’s what he would say.

However, doesn’t S & L have a lot of fabrics and furnishings that are not blue? And, some of their furniture is quite hunky, as well; not what I would call feminine. 

We also have a couple of dogs, two kids in their 20s. Both have serious relationships, so I think grandkids might not be too far away. Therefore, we can’t have white. Or, at least not white that we’re sitting on.


I want classic pieces, even if classic contemporary, for our new rustic home.


Of course, I also want to make my husband happy.  

Oh, there was a post with that designer you and I adore, James T Farmer. But I can’t find it on your blog. I remember that he did a showhouse in a rustic barn-like place, but the furnishings were more traditional than one typically finds in a rustic home.


If you know which post it is and anything else you can do to give some good ideas when furnishing a rustic home, I would be so grateful.


I’m just afraid that with my husband’s taste leaning towards the dreary, it could be a depressing place. I realize this would need to be in the form of a blog post.

Thank you,

Woody Woodson.




Hi Everyone,

I hope you’re all having a good Memorial Day Weekend! I was supposed to go on a little hike with a friend in Ipswich but got rained out. Instead, we settled for dinner in Beacon Hill. Life’s rough. aha

As for the subject at hand, yes, Woody Woodson is a work of fiction. However, my wasband (ex-husband) did have an aversion to blue because of having to wear a blue uniform all through what he called “junior school.”


Okay, the topic of furnishing a rustic home is a great one.


Before we begin, the post Woody was looking for is this one, and it’s actually a great companion post to this one as it has a lot of wonderful ideas for decorating a rustic home.

As most of you already know, I adore Serena & Lily. Yes, they are currently (along with everyone else) having a 20% off sale. Plus, all of their items already on sale are also marked down an additional 20%. If you’re interested, Melissa and I made a super widget of some of our favorites on the HOT SALES main page.


Okay, it’s true about Serena and Lily regarding their coastal styling.


While most of their marketing is geared towards the airy, bright seashore look, they have dozens of furnishings and fabrics that would look terrific in a rustic home. 

Surprisingly, they carry many items that are BLACK or very dark gray. There’s even a black grasscloth!


However, the darker rooms they use in their vignettes are typically like the one below, which is not conducive for a rustic home, for most people.


Serena and Lily - Entryway - Lamps on Console


Please also see this post about dark rooms.


For fun, the other day, I created a room vignette with dark gray-green walls. It’s not a rustic home, but it’s also not the typical coastal blue, beige, and white home most commonly seen at S & L.


All of the furnishings that I added to the room are from Serena & Lily, except two pillows from Chairish.


Serena & Lily Dark Masculine Living Room_Den


I took a photograph of an empty room and did my best to put in furniture that was in perspective. O, some things like the rug are a little wonky, but you get the idea.


Above is a better shot of the Oakmont wool rug from Serena & Lily.


Please click on any image for more information. Unfortunately, I can’t add captions to these mini widgets.


This room, I think, is an excellent example of yin and yang, the masculine and feminine blend. Overall, I believe that a mix is a good way to go.


No, this one is not a rustic home.


But, it’s our first step toward seeing the beautiful Serena and Lily furniture in a setting that is not typically coastal. Although, many people who do live near the beach don’t decorate with blue, beige, and white. You can see what I’m talking about in this post.


Barton_Black-leather-sofa-Serena-and-Lily - good for a chic rustic home


Above is the Barton sofa from Serena & Lily. I’m not sure if they still carry this black leather. The one on the board for the mock room is black linen.

Funny, we were just talking about the BLS (black leather sofa.) However, most of the bachelor black leather sofas mentioned in the post are not nearly this chic.


But, here’s the thing, if doing a rustic home, it’s an important thing.

***If your home is primarily wood, let’s assume a mid-tone orange-y brown; that’s one of the colors in your palette.


It’s not easy finding great examples of timber frame homes with beautiful decor.

The problem I find with the decor in these homes is that you’ll see a lot of brown leather. More brown), or a deep red and hunter green. It’s generally all cumbersome and, not terribly uplifting. Plus, these rooms are often poorly lit.  But, that’s another blog post!


Black leather over and above one black leather sofa will probably not look so great.


That is unless the walls are also black. Please check out this post for wall colors that look great with stained wood trim. 

However, let’s assume your home will be wood, wood, and more wood. Stained wood.


What are some of the best colors when almost everything is orange-ish wood?


A warm white always looks good with black accents. Brass or gold accents always look great, too. 

And, of course, warm blues look fantastic with orange-y toned brown wood.


Green is a lovely color with wood tones, but deep green and red might look like Christmas.


That’s fine if that’s the look you love. You could do tartans and leather for a traditional Adirondack style.


However, please, no moose lamps. Just kidding. Actually, I’m dead serious. Of course, you can put up all of the Adirondack cliches to your heart’s content.


The problem is that too often, what I see in these rustic log homes, Adirondack “shacks” and the like, is browner– brown leather…


Add to it the de rigueur brown cowhide. Brown antlers. Brown moose head mounted high up on a brown and gray stone fireplace.

Can you picture it?

Gosh, my boyfriend, in late 2019, LIVED in a home like that. Yes, complete with Mooseheads and taxidermy. Once, he asked me for a suggestion for a floor lamp. I suggested the Wisteria but discontinued the skinny floor lamp. He didn’t get it. haha

Of course not. There wasn’t a moose to be found! ;]


However, there are some fantastic designers who DO get it, and we can get some great ideas for how to furnish a rustic home through their example.


Above, is a wonderful example by Tammy Connor.

Tammy is an incredibly talented interior designer. Her use of color, furnishings, and fabrics is exquisite. Oh, I love that Napoleon III English club chair.  It’s reminding me of my trip to England.

And, it’s almost identical to Serena & Lily’s Avignon Chair.

The Avignon Chair is available in all of their S & L’s fabrics and leathers in various colors.


Serena and Lily - All Pillows and Throws on sale - up to 25 off

Above the Avignon Chair from Serena and Lily in leather.


rustic home bedroom by Bobby McAlpine


For a more contemporary and exceedingly handsome bedroom, nobody beats Bobby McAlpine and Greg Tankersly and associates for sophisticated designs in a rustic home. Much more Bobby here!


classic contemporary living room in a rustic home by Timothy Johnson

Above is a fantastic classic contemporary living room by Timothy Johnson.


Kitchen in a Rustic Home - photo Helen Norman

I love the teal-blue cabinets in this rustic log cabin kitchen. Photo by Helen Norman


So, no, not everything needs to be brown in a rustic home.


All shades of blue look fabulous with stained wood tones.


So, can we work around Woody’s husband’s disdain for the color blue? Maybe if he sees how good the teal and grayed down shades look with the wood tones, he might relent? Also, maybe it’s the way blue is used. Blue is excellent in these homes as it cools down the heat from all of the orange wood!


Ramsey-Hilltop-Home-greatnorthernwoodworks timber frame rustic homeRamsey-Hilltop-Home-greatnorthernwoodworks timber frame home.



Let’s bring Tammy Connor’s beautiful vignette back down.


Rustic Home by Tammy Connor

I could see her color scheme working in a rustic home with lots of orange-y stained wood.


rustic home - MSR Design architectsMSR Design architects


But, what if the wood is more like this sophisticated rustic home? This is a little easier on my eyes and also looks beautiful with the Tammy Connor colors.


I’ve made several mini widgets of items from Serena & Lily that I think would work well in a rustic home.


They’re all pretty much mix and match. I used neutral shades of beige, gray, black, charcoal, gold, and a bit of red and coral. T ere’s also a touch of green. B t, nothing that anyone would make anyone think of Christmas.

Of course, this is only a sampling of ideas from Serena & Lily. There are thousands of combinations.












And I made one more widget (below) for myself and included a couple of items from the vintage Hot Sales page to show how one could mix other things with the beautiful furniture from Serena & Lily.



And, also, I think that some of these slightly more “feminine” furnishings would also look beautiful and very interesting in the home below. I  would be more in the style of James T Farmer, which, if you missed, the post is here.


rustic home - MSR Design architects


I hope that this post is helpful for all who have a rustic home.



And please check out the truly magnificent Memorial Day Weekend HOT SALES! Most are ending on the 30th or 31st of May.


13 Responses

  1. I absolutely love all of your posts! Have you ever heard of British Interior Designer Sophie Paterson? I would love your take on her designs. Sending love from Guyana, South America:D

  2. I just got in the plaid fabric Tammy Connor used on the wing chair for my dining room chairs. Whew! It does look amazing, and am I ever relieved! Before my Laurel days, I just bought whatever I thought looked nice, but I didn’t know how to plan a room and so often this or that that I had bought ended up in the basement. Thanks, Laurel! My dining room is coming along nicely due to your advice, and ever since I haven’t bought a single thing that I couldn’t use.

  3. Lord, Leah! I would not have been able to help myself–I’d have gone all Sister Parish on that house and slapped white paint everywhere! You have far more restraint (and probably more talent at working with colors and textures) than I. I took a look at your Pinterest, and you did a great job.

  4. If you look at Instagram for “Cashiers NC” or “Highlands NC” you’ll see some great rustic decor. James Farmer’s mountain retreat is in Cashiers.

    Also, check out the High Hampton Resort in Cashiers NC for gorgeous decor in an old inn with chestnut wood everywhere. It was just redone.

  5. NO,NO, Laurel, in the Adirondacks buildings are CAMPS, not shacks.
    Even a 12 room beauty is still a camp.
    I did like this post though. 😙

  6. Years ago my family canoed down the Ipswich river in the fall. It was simply magical. The river in Topsfield and Ipswich is lined with old estates that are beautiful. The Proctor estate is one and the Coolidge estate is another. There are many more. Many of the homes are best seen from the river. The Ipswich river is small and the current gentle. If you have a chance and are up for it, rent a canoe and spend the afternoon enjoying some wonderful scenery.

  7. What you show is lovely, but all that light colored furniture would not work with dogs, small children, etc. Especially linen?

    1. Hi Linda,

      Unfortunately, when I write my blog, I don’t have the benefit of addressing concerns as I’m writing. Sometimes, I do catch it, in a “but Laurel comment” as I’m writing. (my internal monitor getting inside readers’ minds)

      However, most if not all of the fabrics for upholstery are either performance or outdoor fabrics. Those you can hose down, or throw in the washing machine. Also, linen is an extremely durable fabric. I had a linen slipcover on our living room furniture which included a sofa and three chairs. All of the fabric was white and I raised two hellions (boys) and a cat for 22 years in that home.

      While no fabric is 100% bullet-proof, these are about as close as you’re going to get and great looking, as well. Please have a little faith that I’m not going to recommend items that are going to easily get wrecked.

  8. We lived in a hybrid timberframe home for quite a few years, and I found that using a lot of painted pieces of furniture and light colors helped to offset all of the wood. I went for a light, airy cottagey look. It’s been a few years since we lived there, so styles have changed a bit, but I do have a pinterest board with a few pictures of it.

  9. I would turn it into a Scandinavian-looking country cottage or a Ralph Lauren-inspired
    Western home.

  10. Laurel, I realize this post is fictional, but when I started reading it, I thought you were talking about ME! I’ve been married 29 years, have 2 kids in their 20’s and 2 dogs and I live in the Adirondacks! There is no way in hell I’d ever own white beige furnishings either for obvious reasons.

    Last year, I spent all summer sanding my Minwax Golden Oak-stained windows, door trim and doors and painting them a pure white paint color to go with my newly renovated black and white kitchen that I think you would appreciate. the golden oak trim did not match with our new LVP medium brown flooring that we installed throughout the top level of our home. I was so over all of that orange and felt very limited with color choices! My husband complained about me wanting to paint everything white but then said, “Wow, this looks amazing!” when it was all done. I live in a raised ranch home and after pouring over all your boxy house blog posts I’ve updated my home and decorated in a more modern contemporary look with classic hard furnishings and fixtures.

    I’m loving this post as you can make just about anything look classy and like it belongs in a space if you have a little know how. My dream house would be a log cabin minus the taxidermy! There’s nothing like fresh, North Country air!

    I did, however, see a raised ranch home with log cabin siding to other day while driving on a back road. Oy! No. Just…No!

  11. Hi Laurel! Long time follower! Your blog was 1000000% my source for my home renovation 4 years ago, my kitchen and family room are gorgeous BECAUSE OF YOU!! I keep coming back!
    Would love your general thoughts on wood tones (not asking for specific advice 😉!!)

    My husband and I recently purchased a ski home that is modern/contemporary in architecture, in desperate need of updating so we’re adding wood to make it more “ski” looking, while honoring its inherent mid century flair. Added Wood flooring, we’re adding wood to the ceiling. Redoing the kitchen w/ oak cabinets etc. one of the things I’m having a hard time with is selecting the wood tones for all. We went with a white oak floor & I love white oak cabinets.
    The existing window trim is that mid-century looking orangey tone.
    We have to decide on the wood tone for the ceiling. It’s a contemporary so again I’d like to keep to that mid century look, and in this case the orangey trim doesn’t bother me bc it goes with the style.

    My question for you is, how many wood tones can you combine before it starts looking crazy?
    And would you say the floor tone should match the ceiling?
    Should floor ceiling and kitchen cabinets all be the same tone and the window trim and doors stay orangey?

    wondering if there’s general advice on combining wood tones that I haven’t been able to find while googling. Thanks!!

    1. Hi Heidi,

      Oh my, this is very difficult because I can’t see what you’re talking about. It is not easy for me to visualize based on a description. However, not everything has to be stained wood. I’m thinking kitchen cabinets. I’m not saying white, but like in the post, using an earth tone, or color in your scheme gives a lovely break from all of the wood. But, I can’t see the configuration of spaces.

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *

This site uses Akismet to reduce spam. Learn how your comment data is processed.

Welcome To Laurel Home!


Hi, I’m Laurel, and Laurel Home is the website and blog for Laurel Bern Interiors.
I’ve been creating new-traditional interiors since 1988. The blog is where I share all.

New Edition, November 2023! Get The Indispensable Guide For 100s of Home Furnishings And Interior Design Sources That Everyone Is Raving About

laurels-rolodex-final-book-cover-master 10th edition 23-24

laurel home archives


Please click the image below for more info about my rockin’ Interior Design Guides for 2024!

Laurel Home Interior Design Guides 2024
Amazon ad

please click below to check out my favorite decorating & design books

Laurel Bern's Favorite Interior Design and Decorating Books
Subscribe To The Laurel Home Blog And You Will Receive A FREE Guide Where I Share How To Get Your Paint Colors Right, The First Time.