Belfast Telegraph

Woodworking masterclass: How to create a rustic ‘outdoors-in’ living space

As one of Northern Ireland’s most skilled craftsmen, Co Down's Craig McGivern has five top tips for creating the ultimate rustic space.

In 2012, Craig decided he wanted to revitalise his father's traditional lumber business and established Touchedwood, which creates bespoke sculptures, furniture and homewares from Northern Ireland’s oak and ash tree supply.

His woodwork tips are inspired by his love of adventure and the great outdoors of Northern Ireland.

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1. Keep it simple

Neutral tones are an ideal colour base as they help any feature pieces like natural beams, brick and wood flooring stand out. A mix of cool colours together works really well if you a large space.

2. Be natural

Using natural, untreated fibres is a great way to incorporate that outdoorsy feel.

Materials like linen are quite rugged and will complement other earthy materials in your home such as wooden furniture or stone slabs. Natural materials are durable so you won’t have to change them often.

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3. Wood is good

Wooden panelling on the walls or wood floors help add an authentic rustic dimension to your home.

High quality wood, like local Northern Irish oak is timeless, long-wearing and easy to clean and wood generally, is the most environmentally renewable material to introduce into your home.

It has an enduring beauty that means you can have it for decades and it will still look striking. Wood absorbs any excess noise helping to keep the space calm - giving you the perfect space to enjoy a drink or watch the football.

You can also use wood to accents the space - wooden door knobs, lamp stands, serving boards and picture frames add subtle but impressive detail.

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4. Be an eco friend

Plants give your living space a subtle splash of glossy green colour and, if used in the right way, can finish your space so it feels like an urban retreat.

Plants can also provide additional benefits  like cleaner air and help to boost the mood and reduce stress. Rubber plants or spider plants are easily maintained.

5. Spotlight on

I like to get as much natural light into my home as I can because it showcases the shine and colour of wood really well. Mirrors are a great way to increase natural light quickly, and can also make a room look bigger by reflecting the light.

Brighten nooks or crannies that don’t get much natural light by installing spotlights - these are great for creating an chilled out, natural atmosphere or kicking back and soaking in your surroundings on long summer nights.

You can find some really impressive rustic lighting options nowadays, made using rope, copper or leather.

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  • Craig has partnered with Bushmills Irish Whiskey as part of the #AnswerTheCall series. For more information visit

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