Origins of a style
We are all more than likely familiar with the interior trend of ‘shabby chic’. It has been gracing the pages of many a lifestyle magazine for years and has been the go-to style for designers looking to create a relaxed, authentic, country look. You will also no doubt be familiar with the term ‘urban’, def: of or in a city or town. It conjures up images of concrete and brick, of grey and gritty colours and textures, of high rise blocks and sprawling cityscapes.
Now bring the two together and you create interior design alchemy; the shabby becomes a touch smarter, a smidge more sophisticated, less country and more town. It’s still not new and shiny, but it’s tougher, less flouncy, yet just as full of character, texture and visual interest. The chic now suggests culture, fashion, on-trend even. You may recognise terms such as the urban edge, urban sophistication, or perhaps someone who is urbane, or an urbanite. Indeed the very definition of urbanite is ‘an affluent consumer with an optimistic outlook on life that is very different from those who live in “small town” or rural areas’. Clearly written by someone in an office block!
The make-up of urban chic
Urban chic, much like shabby chic, tends to reclaim the old to make something new. Reclaimed or re-invented materials with imperfect finishes, pointers to the past of a life lived. Marks, divots, dents and scratches are seen as trophies of an illustrious past rather than imperfections. But the materials themselves are tougher; steel, iron, boat wood, railway sleepers or floorboards. Rather than faded whites and soft edges, its browns and blacks, rusted and rugged lines.
Where does urban chic work best?
Urban chic lends itself to all manner of furniture, though perhaps more to a lounge space rather than a bedroom. Dining tables and benches are perfect vehicles for the types of materials used in this genre. As are large storage spaces such as bookcases and sideboards. Coffee tables and media units also work well. Picture large open loft spaces, perhaps concrete walls or floors softened and complemented by rich coloured woods and industrial style fixings. It needn’t, however, be the preserve of London loft dwellers. Urban chic works well in any contemporary living space, making a contemporary home a little less ‘new and out of the box’ Likewise, any home with wooden flooring, high ceilings or a large floor space can benefit from one or two pieces to add depth and character to otherwise bland expanses.
Exposed brick walls naturally set the look off perfectly, however, if you are not blessed with beautiful bricks fake it! The graphic print wallpapers available today are stunning. Many will force you to touch them just to verify they are not really what they appear to be. Wood paneling, again real or fake, makes a great backdrop, though perhaps one feature wall only. Scaffold planks, old lengths of thinnish timber, or even fence panels can create a fantastic wall covering. An amazing look I came across recently was a wall decorated entirely with old wooden paneled doors in various degrees of disrepair.
Pair with vintage leather furniture if your budget can stretch to it, but if not new will more than suffice. Or look to retro finds, not just of the leather variety, but anything 60’s, 70’s or 80’s. Vintage industrial themed home accessories are also perfect bedfellows. Think large wall clocks or old metal carriage clocks or pocket watch styled wall clocks. And of course exposed, vintage style light bulbs hung on long drops from the ceiling or as ‘steam punk’ lamps.
How to get it
Here we at The Orchard we of course stock an abundance of such pieces but be sure to mix and match old and new, repro and original, faux and authentic. Also, our Shoreditch collection of furniture by Baumhaus is pure Urban Chic. Constructed from reclaimed wood sourced in places such as Gujarat, Maharashtra and Rajasthan in southern India and salvaged off old boats and buildings. The timber is typically at least fifty years old and is finished with a resilient, hard-wearing, satin lacquer which also emphasises the colour and character of the wood. A smartly constructed steel outer frame gives that urban edge whilst also offering structural rigidity. Shop the full collection here or call us on 0116 326 0207 to discuss ideas or your requirements, we’d be happy to chat with you and offer advice.
Finally, I’ll leave you with this. It’s a really cool mural called Urban Style which I discovered whilst researching this blog so I thought I’d share it with you. It’s available from a German website called tapeto.com and I believe you can buy it as a wallpaper. Nice!