What is Rustic Design Style?

Embrace the Rustic: How to Incorporate the Rustic Design Style into Your Living Space

By Interior Designer TRACY SVENSDEN | Published on April 15, 2023 | Updated on November 22, 2023 |

Are you yearning for a cozy, inviting living space with charm and warmth? Look no further than the rustic design style. Embracing the rustic aesthetic allows you to bring the beauty of the outdoors inside, creating a sanctuary that is both timeless and comforting.

What is rustic design style? Defined, rustic style strongly emphasizes bringing the outdoors in, embracing rugged and natural furniture and textures. It’s a difficult question to answer as it is an all-encompassing term for many similar design styles.

Rustic Style’ describes everything from farmhouse and western to industrial and modern-rustic design. Although the term is rather broad, several elements tie together the many forms of rustic design.

Whether you live in a countryside cottage or a modern urban apartment, incorporating rustic elements into your living space can effortlessly transform it into a haven of tranquility. This guide will explore the key principles of the rustic design style and provide practical tips on infusing your home with rustic charm. From choosing the right color palette to selecting the perfect furniture and decorative accents, we’ll help you create a space that embraces rustic allure while reflecting your style.

So, get ready to embrace the rustic and discover how it can transform your living space into an inviting retreat you’ll love coming home to. 

Rustic Living Room Ideas | What is Rustic Design Style

Rustic Living Room
Image courtesy of Shelter Interiors

Understanding the Rustic Design Style

The rustic design style is rooted in simplicity, nature, and a sense of history. It embraces natural materials’ imperfections and raw beauty, creating a warm and inviting atmosphere. The key to achieving a rustic look is to balance comfort and elegance, incorporating elements that evoke a connection to the outdoors.

The History and Origins of Rustic Design

The rustic design style has its roots in traditional country homes, farmhouses, and cabins. It originated from the need for practical and functional interiors built to withstand the harsh conditions of rural life.

Early settlers used natural materials such as wood, stone, and clay to construct their homes, which became defining features of the rustic style. Over time, rustic design evolved to incorporate elements of other styles, such as shabby chic and cottagecore, while retaining its core principles of simplicity and nature-inspired charm.

What is Rustic Design Style? Rustic Living Room

Rustic Great Room
Image courtesy of Kara Childress

Key Elements of Rustic Design

Natural materials such as wood, stone, and metal are essential for achieving a rustic aesthetic. Exposed beams, reclaimed wood floors, and stone fireplaces are all characteristic elements that add rustic charm to a space.

Incorporating textures like burlap, linen, and wool can enhance a rustic interior’s cozy and inviting atmosphere. Emphasizing the beauty of imperfections, like distressed finishes and weathered surfaces, is another hallmark of rustic design.

1.  Rough-Hewn Beams

Rough-hewn beams instantly add rustic charm. They work to help define a space architecturally as well as anchor a rustic design. To achieve this look, use wood beams to frame ceilings, delineate doorways, and surround fireplaces and windows. Round logs lend cabin charm.

These beams are made from reclaimed or salvaged wood, making them environmentally friendly. Additionally, rough-hewn beams are incredibly strong and durable, which means they can withstand the test of time. Whether you want to create a cozy cabin feel or add visual interest to a modern space, rough-hewn beams are an excellent choice.

Rustic Decorating Ideas
Rustic Decorating Ideas

Rustic Done Well
Image courtesy of Jake Arnold Design

2.  Organic Forms

Using natural materials is one of the defining characteristics of a rustic home. “Rustic design, at its core, is the use of organic elements in their most natural state,” says acclaimed interior designer Katie Hodges.

Organic elements in the home help create a calm and peaceful environment. Choose materials that resonate with your style to help you connect to your interior. These items tie us to the great outdoors, whether natural rock, wood, cotton, leather, or seagrass. Choose furnishings and decor with strong and slightly rough profiles, such as woven baskets, stump tables, and large-scale leather furniture.

3. Weathered Materials

Wood is a primary element used in designing and decorating rustic homes. Wood surfaces should show a bit of age. Reclaimed wood, hammered and distressed metals and seeded glass convey a sense of history. Reclaimed wood is also ideal, providing an earthy and natural look.

Wide plank flooring compliments wood beams typically used to support ceilings. Pine, cherry, alder, and hickory are excellent for emulating a rustic feel.

Rustic Interior Design Ideas
Rustic Interior Design Ideas

What is Rustic Design Style? Weathered Materials & Warm Rich Colors
Image courtesy of Jeffrey Dungan

4. Earthtone Colors

When choosing a color palette for a rustic interior, earth tones and warm neutrals are the way to go. Think of shades of brown, beige, cream, and gray. These colors create a soothing backdrop that complements the natural materials used in rustic design. To add depth and interest, you can incorporate pops of color inspired by nature, such as deep greens or warm oranges. 

In terms of materials, wood is the show’s star in rustic design. Opt for reclaimed or distressed wood furniture to add character and a sense of history to your space. Stone and brick can be used for accent walls or fireplace surrounds to create a rustic focal point. Metal accents, such as wrought iron or copper, can add a touch of rustic elegance.

When it comes to rustic design, earth-tone colors are a popular choice for a few reasons:

  1. They provide a natural and organic feel to a space, which is key for creating a rustic ambiance.
  2. Earth tones are more muted and subdued, which helps to create a calming and relaxing atmosphere.
  3. These colors work well with various textures and materials often associated with rustic design, such as wood, stone, and natural fibers.
What is Rustic Design Style? Rustic Colors to Use
What is Rustic Design Style? Rustic Colors to Use

Warm Rustic Earth Tones
Image courtesy of Jake Arnold Design

5. Repurposed Objects

Rustic style is all about making do with what you already have. Found objects are key, such as wire baskets transformed into light fixtures and wood crates reimagined to hold everything from books to blankets.
Rustic interiors lend themselves to cross-pollination with industrial style. Feel free to incorporate offbeat lighting, artwork, and decorative displays.

6. Textural Fabrics

Sturdy fabrics with plenty of added texture are on point in a rustic home. From burlap to cotton, linen, and wool, create a warm, inviting, and cozy home. Quilts are a natural partner for rustic-style interiors, whether draped over the edge of a sofa or at the end of a bed.

Fabrics should evoke a natural aesthetic. A hand-woven rug, wicker baskets, or faux animal throw adds an effortless rustic style. As most surfaces are simple and unrefined in this design, add patterns like buffalo check, plaid, kilim, and patchwork. These patterns match the surrounding weathered elements.

Log Home Decorating Ideas

Log Cabin Decorating Ideas for the Living Room | Jackson Wyoming Design
Image courtesy of Architectural Digest

Rustic Design for Different Rooms in Your Home

The rustic design style can be applied to every room in your home, from the living room to the bedroom and even the kitchen. Here are some ideas on how to infuse rustic charm into each space:

Rustic Living Room Ideas

Create a cozy seating area in the living room by choosing comfortable sofas and armchairs upholstered in natural fabrics like linen or leather. Add a rustic coffee table made from reclaimed wood and accessorize it with vintage-inspired decor like antique lamps or distressed picture frames.

Rustic Living Room Ideas | What is Rustic Design Style?

What is Rustic Design Style? | Rustic Living Room
Image courtesy of Architectural Digest

Rustic Bedroom Ideas

Rustic bedrooms bring the outdoors in, pairing natural elements with cozy and serene elegance. These gorgeous bedrooms take advantage of their stunning surroundings with a design sensibility that complements and reflects the surrounding views.

Rustic bedrooms typically incorporate rugged stone, warm wood tones, and organic materials. Opt for a wooden bed frame or a wrought iron canopy bed for a rustic bedroom to create a focal point. Dress the bed with soft, natural-colored bedding and layer with textured throws and cushions. Incorporate rustic lighting fixtures, such as a chandelier made from driftwood or a bedside lamp with a burlap shade.

Rustic Bedroom Ideas

Rustic Bedroom
Image courtesy of Shelter Interiors

Rustic Kitchen Ideas

In the kitchen, embrace the rustic charm with open shelving made from reclaimed wood to display your vintage dishes and glassware collection. Choose a farmhouse-style sink and incorporate natural materials like stone or wood for countertops and backsplashes. Complete the look with rustic pendant lights and a wooden dining table surrounded by mismatched chairs. View further rustic kitchen ideas.

Rustic Dinnerware

Paseo Road Clearwater Pines Dinnerware Set

Rustic Dinnerware

Paseo Road Pine Cone Ceramic Dinnerware Set

Rustic Bathroom Ideas

Consider using natural wood, stone, and metal in your rustic bathroom design. These materials can create a warm and cozy atmosphere that is perfect for a rustic or cabin bathroom. You can add vintage or antique pieces to the space, such as an old-fashioned vanity or a clawfoot bathtub.

Another great way to decorate a rustic bathroom is to incorporate nature-inspired elements, such as plants, flowers, and natural textures like woven baskets or jute rugs. Combine these elements with soft lighting and neutral colors to create a calming and inviting space. For a finishing touch, incorporate rustic bath towels and accessories in earth tones.