Few interior design styles are as time-tested and flexible—not to mention dependably trendy—as rustic and farmhouse style. They are a loose and often overlapping family of design aesthetics. Farmhouse and rustic styles offer broad templates and key decorating sensibilities. Anyone can use them to add some rustic flair to a space, be it an otherwise plain apartment bedroom, a busy suburban living room, a cozy winter cabin, or even an actual farmhouse in the country. Noted fashion designer Ralph Lauren and his wife Ricky adopted a richly historical farmhouse style for their homestead escape nestled in the Colorado mountains. In the Double RL Ranch, they breathed life and warmth into a main lodge. They turned the stand-alone barn into a dining room, and have numerous log cabins spread across the property’s roughly sixteen-thousand acres. The couple even softened the army-surplus decor of their Airstream trailer guesthouse! They used a rustic, canopied wood-plank platform and farmhouse style blankets, proving that rustic charm comes in all shapes and sizes.
Farmhouse and rustic interior design
Farmhouse and rustic are among the most versatile and popular interior design styles today in part because they mix seamlessly with a myriad of other design philosophies. Opportune pairings for farmhouse and rustic include traditional, industrial, cabin/lodge, and boho. You can cultivate a rustic touch in an existing room with carefully chosen throw blankets or rustic bedding sets or use the style as a foundation for decorating an entire home. In this post, we’ll explore the essence of both styles, their shared and unique style aspects. We’ll look at the important role the right bedding plays when decorating shared or personal living spaces, and how comfortable, handmade, and ethically-sourced products from Los Andes can help you achieve your interior design goals.
Rustic style is an enduring interior design aesthetic characterized by a closeness to nature and simple living. It often has informal but functional layouts, vintage décor, and natural materials. Rustic design is a highly scalable and transferable style for interior decorating; it can be equally dynamic and effective in a modest suburban home or an expansive country homestead like the Dutton Ranch. You don’t need to share your name with an acclaimed fashion industry label or be a professional interior designer to start decorating rustic rooms either; a core tenet of the rustic theme is approachability, and it’s flexible enough to be adapted to your own personal tastes. Whether you’re looking to add some lodge décor to a guest bedroom, choosing a color palette for your cozy log cabin retreat, or just want to bring a unique style to a modern bedroom, the rustic look is a great choice.
A key focus of rustic design is the interplay of natural colors and raw materials. Rustic furniture and décor emphasize complex textures with organic fibers and minimally-treated wood. Rustic furniture tends to be heavy and built to last, so don’t turn your nose up at searching for pieces at garage sales and flea markets, as well as antique shops–wear and patina are part of the appeal. Reclaimed wood ceiling fans, log beds, and exposed beams are all popular fixtures of the modern rustic bedroom. Some pieces of rustic furniture integrate bare twigs or branches into their designs and a rustic cabin aesthetic might include a few decorative pine cones.
Since rustic style is all about making a space feel natural and relaxed, finding the right rustic bedding set is vital. The perfect rustic bedding sets an inviting tone for the whole room, so be sure to balance the dual sensibilities of simplified patterns and rich textures. Keep to a neutral color palette, leaning into natural colors with grey, warm brown, or white bedding. Organic Egyptian cotton or linen sheets paired with solid color comforter sets are a great choice. Remember to complement this simplicity in shape and color with a depth of texture. Decorative pillow shams made with burlap or a natural fiber like jute can add a hint of rustic style ruggedness in a bedroom or living area, especially when paired with the contrasting gentleness of alpaca fleece blankets. With its pure, black and white color scheme, the simple geometric design of our Native Print Black and White Blanket brings out the textured alpaca blend weave, perfect for a touch of repeating pattern without disrupting the understated color palette of a rustic style bedroom. Our Brown Southwestern Queen Blanket is also a great choice on queen size beds. All our items offer free shipping!
Farmhouse style is a close cousin of rustic style. This style incorporates many of the aesthetic choices of rustic design, channeling them to evoke the atmosphere of the classic American farmhouse. The farmhouse style template emphasizes functionality and accessibility, with room layouts and décor that are unpretentious and unintrusive to work and play. If your personal tastes favor intimate communal spaces that invite family gatherings and a sensibility where the rough edges of daily life are what make a house a home, farmhouse style is the style for you. Unlike modernist and austere design styles which can be hard to swing for young families with small children or pets, farmhouse style excels at showcasing the lived-in quality of a home as its primary feature. The aesthetic also fits with the trend of shabby-chic; a visit to a furniture swap or your local flea market plus a few coats of DIY paint is all you need for a wide range of décor options to start populating a farmhouse bedroom or common area.
One major distinguishing factor between mainline rustic design and farmhouse style is the latter’s openness to more adventurous designs and color palettes. Traditional rustic style keeps the contours of a room’s furniture simple: thick, blocky table legs and unadorned fixtures. Farmhouse style opens up the rustic theme to more diverse silhouettes and injects a bright flourish of playful hues into the mainstay of neutral colors. Farmhouse bedding might include a jewel-tone duvet cover or quilt sets with western imagery. Remember to keep the color palette of a farmhouse bedroom or common area natural and resist bringing in too many competing colors or artificial tints. Look to the natural world for inspiration in order to maintain strong ties to the farmhouse theme when picking wall colors, furniture sets, and bedding: earthy autumn maroons and golds or rich wildflower azures and purples.
Accompanying the wider color palette provided by farmhouse style comes an opportunity for different patterns and designs, but it’s important not to get carried away. Steer clear of décor and wall hangings that border on the blatant or take the farmhouse inspiration too literally. Committing to the farmhouse vibe too heavily or mixing in too many disparate aesthetics are among the easiest mistakes to make when decorating in this style. Remember: photographs of grazing cattle and embroidered fields of wheat on all your pillows might recall common sights from the homesteads of the eighteenth century that give farmhouse design its aesthetic roots, but they won’t necessarily evoke the homey and rugged warmth the design is known for.
Instead, focus on emphasizing a few quality designs to set the tone in a room. Cabin bedding, rustic bedding sets and alpaca fleece blankets are excellent mediums for adding visual and tactile variety to a queen size mattress in the primary bedroom or guest bedroom. Western bedding, like our reversable Elegant Equestrian Blanket, looks fantastic on log bed frames and is a great choice in the farmhouse bedroom of any dedicated horse-lover. The Native Print in Fuchsia or Red & Turquoise brings warmth, and can be finished off with some solid color pillow shams. For a higher altitude cabin bedding look, the Mt. Hood Blanket mixes in a touch of lodge style flair with its curtains of pine trees and bold mountain slope design. It also comes in a variety of staple farmhouse-style colors to fit with the room and bedding color palette that matches your personal tastes. The rich chocolate brown and earthy plum options are perfect for a comfortable, reassuring spread in a primary bedroom. Get it in a clear, vivid blue for your guest bedroom to soothe and relax weekend visitors, or opt for the warm red hue to cozy up on the living room couch after a blustery day of hard work or family recreation.
In our modern culture of mass-manufacturing, farmhouse and rustic style interior design is a haven for authentic furniture, décor, and bedding textiles. The rustic look eschews the cheap sheen of products divorced from the value of a personal touch, favoring instead the handmade and the time-tested, the natural and the reclaimed. Just as the modern rustic bedroom pays homage to the mountain lodges, rustic cabins, and rural farmhouses of the past, the elements you choose for establishing your own personal style in a space should have their own histories. At Los Andes, each and every poncho, blanket, and throw carries with it its own story and you can be proud knowing where that journey started. All the products we carry are handcrafted by the skilled artisans of Otavalo, Ecuador. The textiles travel from their place of origin high in the Andes mountains to Los Andes’ base of operation here in Newberg, Oregon. From there they make their way directly to you when you place an order in our online shop or when you visit us at one of the great in-person events on our market calendar. (We always enjoy seeing someone find their new favorite blanket after stopping by one of our event tables and every online order includes free shipping.) Remember, when you welcome one of our alpaca fleece blankets into your home, you also help support the native Otavaleño artisans who crafted them. Authenticity, warmth, and comfort are what the rustic style spirit is all about and at Los Andes, you’ll find them woven into every blanket.
What’s the difference between an alpaca and a llama?
Great question, and it’s one we hear a lot as we sell our beautiful products made from alpaca fleece. Benoit’s quick answer is, “It’s like the difference between someone from the U.S. and someone from Canada!” Just like those two English-speaking nationalities share much of North America, the alpaca and the llama share a common animal family, the camelids. But really, there are significant differences that are easy to spot once you learn a little bit!
Alpacas are generally smaller than llamas. Alpacas stand around 3 feet tall, while llamas can grow to about 4 feet, and weigh up to 400 lbs.
2. Face & Ears
Llamas have a long snout, while alpacas have shorter noses – like pug dogs! Llama ears are quite long, and sometimes are compared to a banana. Alpaca ears are smaller and rounded.
You may have had an uncomfortable encounter with a llama – they are often used to guard other livestock because of their protectiveness and assertive nature. They are independent, whereas alpacas are traditionally raised in herds and are more docile and interdependent. However, both can spit on you if upset!
A very important difference between the alpaca and the llama is their fleece. They both grow thick fleece to keep them warm in their native Andean highland environment, and if living outside of that climate need to be sheared regularly. Llama fiber is coarser than alpaca fleece, and has individual hairs. Alpaca fleece is softer, fuzzier, and finer. Some weavers and knitters find alpaca fleece challenging to work with due to its fluffiness. This is one reason our native artisan makers often combine the alpaca fleece with acrylic – to help it hold together.
The alpaca fleece used in our products is sourced in the alpacas’ original home territory of the Andes, and used by the Ecuadorian artisans who make our items. However, Oregon has many alpaca & llama farms – visit one near you!
Southwest decorating style is the liberating option you’ve been longing for. Southwest interior design embodies many popular trends on social media right now, meaning you have a wealth of ideas and products available with a few searches, such as this.
As an interior design strategy, it works because it is flexible enough to remain relevant to design trends, while maintaining a depth of timelessness. Southwest style is imbued with a deep history stemming from architecture and textile styles of the American West and Mexico. It pulls from Native American and Spanish influence, as well as years of innovation through generations of designers including architects like Frank Lloyd Wright. And it can be used subtly with unifying pieces or as an all out theme for your whole space, giving you complete control over your style rather than it controlling you.
The architecture and pallet of this style allow for great adaptability. The architecture of the style is exemplified by natural, soft lines. It imitates the geography of the American south west with symmetry and unexpected gentleness for such harsh environments.
The palette tends to be rugged and earthy in tone, but it can pull out the playful colors of native textiles, desert sunrises, or even the bright saturation of the Texas flag. Southwest style can bleed over into a more modern tilt when it is combined with dark accents and the geometric elements are emphasized. It can also lean boho because of its reliance on textiles and natural materials. Or it can lean minimalist with neutral tones and a reliance on simple geometric shapes. This makes it an adaptable style which can be easily individualized, depending on the design emphasis.
Southwest Style for You
Alpaca blankets from Los Andes align well with Southwest decor style for several reasons. The colors align with the natural colors of this style and the variety offered at the shop means you’ll find something to fit any palette. Additionally, the patterns of these blankets frequently depict geometric designs popular in Southwestern art and decor. Finally, Los Andes works to bring responsibly-sourced, handcrafted products to consumers. The company’s commitment to sustainability and maintaining relationships with native Chilean artisans mean their products are beautifully made and contribute to a process with longstanding traditions just like the Southwestern decor style! Their pieces include throw blankets, which can unify a space, and southwestern bedding, which can accentuate your style with a big impact.
Los Andes Blankets
One important aspect of Southwestern decor is its ability to tell a story. As you look at various rooms decorated in this style, they pull you in with an element of history—they are full of pieces you look at and wish you knew all the stories they hold. The blankets at the Los Andes shop also carry a story. You can read the journey of Los Andes here, giving you a depth and an added layer of richness to these artisan pieces.
In North American native cultures, blankets are traditionally given to mark important events or life passages. While the practice has changed over the years, several Native American customers have purchased Los Andes Shop blankets for just this purpose!
Our blankets are Native-made, but South American Native-made. . . the first nations of the Andes continue to practice and develop this craft with great creativity and pride.
To learn more about the tradition of gift giving in various cultures, visit this post at Seamsandscissors.com
What are key elements of Southwestern decor style?
Warm colors that reflect the sky and earth, such as terracotta and turquoise, although modern Southwestern decor often prefers the more subdued palette of natural grays, browns, and whites.
Simple wood furniture, often with iron accents.
Woven textiles in geometric patterns inspired by Native Americans master weavers.
Pottery in earth tones.
How is it possible that blankets made in Ecuador work so well in a decor style representing the southwestern United States?
Ecuador and much of the United States Southwest were both colonized by the Spaniards in the 16th century. Because one country, government and church ruled over a vast area, there are many commonalities across the whole former Spanish empire, including language, city layout, and construction styles.
For example, from Santa Fe, New Mexico to Santiago, Chile, the principal town plaza has a cathedral along one side, and a government building called the cabildo along another. Streets are laid out in a grid, and the closer the building to the main plaza, the greater importance it had socially and economically.
Like the U.S. Southwest, there were many native groups in what is now Ecuador. The people who make our blankets, called Otavaleños, had been infringed on by the larger, more powerful Incas just prior to the arrival of the Spaniards, who forced them to create woolen and cotton cloth that was sent throughout much of South America.
When the Otavaleños gained their freedom, they continued using these skills and created their own designs. Many have geometric patterns and incorporate native symbols. While not exactly the same as the famous Navajo designs, there are many similarities, especially to the casual observer.
To learn more about Southwestern interior decor, check out these pages:
Our handicrafts are not only beautiful and unusual, but they also tell a story of success for the people of Otavalo. (Debbie cannot resist explaining this because, after all, she has a degree in Latin American History. 🙂 )
The Spaniards forced many native Ecuadorians to work in “obrajes”, a colonial version of a textiles sweatshop. According to historians, they were paid the equivalent of $5 per month, were whipped frequently and suffered other inhumane treatment. The wool and cotton fabric they produced was used by Spaniards all over their empire for hundreds of years.
After Independence from Spain, the Ecuadorian people were able to use the skills they had acquired in this industry for their own benefit. They now own all the means of production. Some continue to carry on traditional methods, such as “backstrap weaving.”
Others have modernized and use computerized looms.
When you purchase an item from Los Andes Shop, you are supporting the small business textile artisans of Otavalo – we buy from them directly, and have been working with several for over 15 years.
While the artisans of Otavalo are no longer forced to produce cloth by the Spaniard colonizers like their ancestors, the cottage industries of textiles in Otavalo continue to undergo change. We strive to support both the maintenance of traditional techniques as well as creative expansions by the younger generations. We also enjoy working collaboratively with the makers to create custom designs for our U.S. market.
Here are a few videos (in Spanish) detailing some aspects of textile crafts in Otavalo. Even if you don’t understand Spanish, the visuals give you a good idea of the weavers and their art (and hard work). Sadly, many of the weavers interviewed are no longer living, so these videos have captured important historical and cultural information. The use of these videos was generously authorized by Frank at www.otavalovideos.com – check out all their videos on many aspects of Otavalan culture.
Our specialty is beautiful alpaca-blend blankets and couch throws, but we also carry other artisanal items that represent the great variety of textile craftsmanship in Otavalo, Ecuador. Contact us about cotton harem pants (AKA “sick pants, bru”), ponchos, sweaters, alpaca mittens and socks, and hammocks.
Of course we are proud to bring you these beautiful products made by native artisans – but just as important to us is our relationship with you – our customers!
Whether you order online or visit us in an outdoor market or pop-up event, we value you, and LOVE to get to know you – to learn about you and your interests. Talking with you is what keeps us going!
Many customers have taken time to post reviews or even to call us with positive comments about the high quality personal service they have received, so we think we do a pretty good job in this area, but if you disagree, please let us know! There is always room for improvement!