Design Trend Alert: Country Club Grandpa Aesthetic

Words by Kerry Pieri.

The coastal Grandma has been given all her flowers in recent months, but we’re here to laud another iconic figure, the country club Grandpa design trend. If the lady made famous by Nancy Meyers is all about light linen, rattan, and untreated oak, consider this the darker side of the classic style. It’s all about embracing heritage elements by integrating old-school American or British ideas into your wardrobe and interiors—taking almost stodgy tropes like tweed fabrics, worn leather, antique wood furniture, rich green colors, and old oil paintings and integrating them in fresh and interesting ways. 

A leader in the look is inarguably designer to the stars and co-founder of The Expert, Jake Arnold. “People are looking towards heritage design and classic elements more so now than ever because we’ve moved on from a minimalist point of view where everything feels very stark and pared back,” Arnold tells me. “We’re going for a more layered approach and looking towards classic design sensibilities primarily from the UK and other European cities.”

Photo: Michael Clifford. Design: Jake Arnold.
Photo: Michael Clifford. Design: Jake Arnold.

“We’ve moved on from a minimalist point of view where everything feels very stark and pared back.”

— Jake Arnold, interior designer and co-founder, The Expert

In fashion, this upside-down prep moment is seen on the runways of Celine, where a tweedy blazer is layered over a glimmering cocktail dress; at Miu Miu where plaid wool fabrics are done up in skirt suits, layered over Grandpa sweaters, and paired with ballet slippers; and at Khaite, where a jacket that could have been hijacked from an especially dapper AARP member’s closet is paired with baggy jeans and cool shades. Likewise, in the interior design world, integrating these pieces into your home is achieved through a deft mix and a good eye. 

“When it comes to introducing traditional British elements, it’s all about the pairing and mixing of genres and historical elements,” Arnold explains. “For example, pair tuxedo leather club chairs with a contemporary shapely sofa—the contrast between the two gives a new perspective of the traditional elements but feels more contextual to today.” In other words, you don’t want to feel like you’re walking into an old boys club with deep green walls, leather-bound books, oil paintings, some chintz, and worn oriental rugs. But if you happen upon some of these elements buy them up and work them into your rooms to bring a richness that might not have otherwise been realized.

Courtesy of Miu Miu.
Courtesy of Miu Miu.
Courtesy of Khaite.
Courtesy of Khaite.

There’s no denying that with this look in particular, sourcing is an art and you must go in with all the facts. “When it comes to vintage, scale is everything,” Arnold, who recently launched a vintage resale vertical on The Expert says. “Vintage pieces were designed in a different time period where scale was typically smaller so bearing that in mind and understanding the patina and pre-loved condition becomes a fine line. “If it’s something you don’t want to sit on or eat off of then it should be a pass. I recommend doing your research about the time period you’re pulling from, gaining an understanding of the sentiments of that period.”

“If it’s something you don’t want to sit on or eat off of then it should be a pass.”

— Jake Arnold

Courtesy of Blanc Marine.
Courtesy of Blanc Marine.

If you’re not one to scroll eBay for hours and you happen to lack access to an estate worthy of HBO’s Succession there are, of course, new pieces and ideas that lend the vibe of members-only institutions without any of the laborious leg work. A Chippendale-inspired desk just makes us feel immediately smarter. And beautiful oil paintings continue to be created in the new millennium. A luxe deep green paint will make any small room feel like a cozy library in two quick coats. Mélanie Cherrier of Blanc Marine Intérieurs has embraced the classic shade, favoring Benjamin Moore HC-134 Tarrytowne Green to achieve the look. We love this color for its deepness and how it contrasts beautifully with any wood tone,” she explains of her and partner Laurence Pons Lavigne’s penchant for the shade. “It’s a rich, characterful hue and one of our favorites to create with.”

Like anything in life, there can be too much of a good thing. When you’re sourcing old or new for your Country Club Grandpa aesthetic, Arnold recommends, “staying away from any pieces that are too elaborate or ostentatious because everything is contextual with how you pair items together. There’s a fine line between finding something that has more of a decorative motif as opposed to something that feels heavily gilded or particularly precious.” Go forth and find your inner Grandpa.

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