How to Add Mountain Modern Style to Your Home Decor—Wherever You Live
Equal parts sophisticated minimalism and earthy mountainside respite, interior designers share how to include this new design trend in your home, even if there are no mountains in sight.
From cottage chic and coastal grandmother to rustic farmhouse, trends that center homes around earthy tones, reclaimed pieces, and natural elements have existed for years. Mountain modern style is the newest iteration to join the pack, only it draws inspiration from rugged peaks, rocky slopes, and windblown prairies. Here, interior designers define and explore this minimalist-meets-rustic aesthetic—and share how to make it work in your own home, whether you live in Colorado or New York City.
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What Is Mountain Modern Style?
This trend's name says it all: Mountain modern style translates the tones and clean lines found on mountains, resulting in a minimalist but warm interior punctuated by organic textures and unique art. "It is all about bringing the outdoors in through décor choices like nature-inspired color palettes, fabrics that are both aesthetically inspired by the outdoors and can also take a beating, animal-inspired artwork, and a mix of vintage and found items," says Max Humphrey, an interior designer based in Portland, Ore.
Incorporating simple modern finishes is a tenet of mountain modern style; they create a clean and light counterbalance to purposefully unrefined details. In this sense, it steps away from the traditional "alpine" design that often feels dark, heavy, and dated. "The appeal of mountain modern design are the clean-cut lines, minimalism, and sophistication that homeowners want to bring to their mountain respite," says interior designer Jackie Johnson.
Using Mountain Modern Style in Urban Settings
While mountain modern lends itself to homes nestled in the mountains, you don't necessarily have to dwell in the alpines to pull inspiration from this trend. Just be aware that a little goes a long way if you're not designing a mountain house, says Humphrey. Going overboard in a suburban or urban space could result in a space that feels inauthentic—or worse yet, borders on cheesy theme park. The goal is to incorporate warm, natural touches in ways that make sense for the space. And true to the "modern" portion of this trend, less is alway going to be more.
How to Add Mountain Modern Style to Your Home
Not sure where to start? Let this interior design advice guide you.
Strategically Layer Natural Textures and Tones
Mountain modern lends itself to layered earth tones and natural textures just as they would appear in nature. "Think of the details in the layering of the textures like wood, metal, and fabric that bring the space to life, rather than layering on more décor," says Johnson. "In this case, less is more."
You'll want furniture with clean lines, minimal large-scale pieces that create interior vistas, and just a few accessories. Here are some ways you can subtly layer textures and tones into your space:
Natural Fabrics: Leathers and hide-on-hair fabrics can be incorporated via dining chairs, bar stools, accent chairs, and pillows.
Metal Accents: Metal legs on furniture, hardware with some patina, black steel windows and doors, and metal beams are beautiful mountain modern touches.
Wood Details: Try kitchen cabinetry in rift white oak, wood paneling on the walls of powder baths or feature rooms, and live edge tables.
Real Stone: You can add real stone via countertops, backsplashes in your bar or kitchen, or a waterfall island.
Use Rustic Materials in Authentic Ways
Marrying "mountain" and "modern" is key for this aesthetic. "The cleanliness and modern function is the attraction, but for many people, it lacks soul," says Jordan Obermann, co-founder and co-principal of Forge & Bow. "Using rustic materials in real ways brings a sense of history to the home,"
His solution for striking that perfect balance is to understand the history of the home, keep finishes simple and streamlined, and to let the building materials shine. From there, you can incorporate rustic details where they make the most sense.
Focus on Natural and Accent Lighting
Let the sun be your primary source of light during the day. That means large, open windows that aren't hidden behind curtains. Incorporate task and accent lighting for early mornings and evenings. "You'll notice in the national park lodges there's no overhead can lights," says Humphrey. "Typically, there's multiple sources of light, such as chandeliers, table lamps, and floor lamps. It gives you options at home to set the mountain mood."
Let Windows Be Your Art
If you're lucky to live in the mountains—and luckier yet to have a stellar view—let nature be your featured artwork. Arrange your space so that you're invited to gaze outside, and keep window dressings light and to a minimum. If budget allows, consider incorporating a new window or widening an existing one. As an alternative, consider transforming a small door into a larger one, or swap in a full-glass door versus covered iterations.
Lean Toward Warmth
"Clean lines and modern finishes can lean both warm or more cold or sterile, but by bringing in the rustic principles of mountain modern, cold doesn't work," says Obermann. "Keep your finishes—even if they are more modern—warm and inviting." This can be incorporated through the right wall color, large, cozy textiles, inviting furniture, and lighting.
Incorporate Art Prints
In lieu of (or perhaps in addition to) actual mountain views, art prints can bring a little mountain modern into your home. "Whether it's vintage travel posters or flea market paintings of outdoor scenes, art is a good way to remind you of your travels or inspire you to go outside," Humphrey says.
Install Earthy Wallpaper
Wallpaper is an easy way to bring some mountain modern magic into your home. "Even a floral print or a plaid or gingham paper that resembles a camp blanket can be a wink towards mountain modern, and can be used in a big way or sparingly in an accent wall or a guest room," says Humphrey. When in doubt, stick to earthy hues such as forest green, cream, or sky blue that evoke nature.