What Is Belgian Modern Design? A Modern Farmhouse-Hygge Mashup

What is Belgian modern design? This offshoot owes some of its popularity to Scandinavian chic (hygge, anyone?), while others call it a mashup of modern farmhouse and minimalism.

“Belgian modern design is a style that extols spare rooms filled with natural and worn materials, including stone floors, distressed oak furnishings, mottled plaster walls, and lots of real fibers, especially heavy Belgian linens in pale, neutral colors,” explains Michael Boodro, chairman of editorial and strategic initiatives at Dering Hall.

This versatile style can be incorporated into many home decors thanks to its simplicity. It also echoes notes of biophilic design, which relates to nature, adds Karen Gray-Plaisted of Design Solutions KGP.

Several big-box stores offer furniture, lighting, and case goods with clean lines and quiet palettes to complement this aesthetic. And updating to this style doesn’t require big bucks as knockoffs are basically as good as pricier originals, says Beverly Solomon of the eponymous design firm.

She recommends consignment shops and yard sales for quality originals, but notes that few can tell the difference between well-designed 1930s pieces and those made today.

Here’s more about Belgian modern design history, its color scheme, and where to get the look.

A brief history of Belgian modern design

Photo by Mac Free 

Credit for this decor style goes to Alex Vervoordt, the Belgian antiques dealer who began to renovate a group of houses in Antwerp 50 years ago.

“His poetic vision and unique ability to merge elements as diverse as farmhouse furnishings, Dutch paintings, and medieval tapestries struck a chord,” reports Boodro.

Belgian modern caught on in the U.S. 15 years ago, after the publication of Vervoodt’s book “The Story of a Style,” but it was undoubtedly Restoration Hardware that took it to the next level.

“Their moody catalogs with distressed wood furnishings and Belgian linens in a host of pale colors made the style popular,” Boodro adds.

Here’s more on how to get the look in your own home.

Pick pale tones

Photo by Lisa Tharp Design 

Belgian modern design features warm colors, ranging from whites to browns. Gray is also a major shade, as well as celadon, sage, and pale lavender, says Boodro.

“This palette is washed out and includes the colors of wood, stone, and water; but the masters of the style always added a bit of bold color,” he adds.

Make texture the star

Photo by Liliane Hart Interiors 

Nubby rugs, softly worn upholstery, and the natural grain of wood are all important contributors of texture to an otherwise plain theme.

“Live plants, ceramics, and homemade accessories can also be included in these simple, relaxed rooms,” says Gray-Plaisted.

Seek simple furniture

Photo by Studio Revolution 

“Think farmhouse pieces, low-slung sofas, and distressed wood tables that are elevated by antiques and artwork for this type of interior style,” says Boodro.

One combo he likes: a high-back wing chair in velvet juxtaposed with a modern Italian leather sofa or an English chesterfield. “Or steel tables against linen-slipcovered seating,” he adds.

A variety of furnishings is fine as long as the mood is serene.

Go bare—and spare

Photo by Paper House Project

As with most styles that touch on modernism, uncluttered surfaces are essential.

“Virtually any style or period of accessories can be effective, but they need to be kept to a minimum because Belgian modern isn’t about gathering many pieces together but rather showcasing the beautiful lines and textures of the few,” says Boodro.

Sisal rug

The latex backing on this carpet means no slipping in your foyer.

Crate & Barrel

Gray-Plaisted recommends big-box stores for their selection of rugs that will mesh nicely with Belgian modern design.

This 8-by-10-foot sisal pick ($34.95 and up, Crate&Barrel) is both durable and soft, muffling noise and adding texture to high-traffic rooms.

Linen furniture

Linen is common in Belgian modern furniture.


Linen is a natural resource of Belgium, so it makes perfect sense that you’ll find it everywhere in its furnishings, like this sofa ($1,999.99, Wayfair). Not on the market for new furniture? You can get linen as a slipcover, which will protect the material underneath.

Colorful pops of faux fur

A pop of color brightens the quiet palette of Belgian modern design.


Too much beige and brown may end up looking sleepy, so add a shot of color and more texture with a few of your accessories.

Boodro says vivid teal and orange keep things interesting, but only in small doses so you maintain a restful, soothing aesthetic. A fuzzy orange throw pillow fits the bill ($38.99, Wayfair).

The post What Is Belgian Modern Design? A Modern Farmhouse-Hygge Mashup appeared first on Real Estate News & Insights | realtor.com®.


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