What is Rustic Design Style?

What is rustic design style? It’s a difficult question to answer as it is an all-encompassing term for many similar design styles. ‘Rustic’ is used to describe everything from farmhouse and western, to industrial and modern-rustic design. Although the term is rather broad, there are several elements that tie the many forms of rustic design together.

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. Wood beams can be used to frame ceilings, delineate doorways as well as surround fireplaces and windows. Round logs can be added to lend cabin charm.

Rustic Kitchen Ideas | What is Rustic Design Style

Traditional Kitchen by Atlanta Architects & Peace Design

What is Rustic Style Design | Rough Hewn Beams
What is Rustic Style Design | Rough Hewn Beams

An Alabama home, situated on a stunning point in The Ridge on Lake Martin designed by Tracery Interiors.
The large main living space, defined by reclaimed wood beams that frame the windows overlooking Lake Martin, is divided into smaller, more intimate seating and dining areas by the towering fireplace. “The homeowners wanted to have areas to do different activities and for different people in the family.” Explains designer Paige Sumblin Schnell, Principal of Tracery Interiors.
Image courtesy of: Atlanta Homes

Organic Forms

The use of 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 own personal style that will help you connect to your interior. Whether its natural rock, wood, cotton, leather or seagrass, these items connect us to the great outdoors.

Choose furnishings and decor that have strong and slightly rough profiles such as woven baskets, stump tables, and large scale leather furniture.

Rustic Decorating Ideas | Organic Living Room

Living Room with Organic Elements
This beautiful modern-rustic living room incorporates a wide variety of organic elements, such as brick flooring, stump accent table, wood shelving, textured artwork and a woven area rug.
Image courtesy of:  Crate & Barrel

Weathered Materials

Wood is a primary element used in the design and decorating of 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 also is an ideal choice as it provides an earthy and natural look.

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

Rustic Furniture

Weathered Materials in the Bedroom
A stunning rustic bed, nightstand (Horchow), vase and door work perfectly together to create an elegant, yet rustic bedroom.
Image courtesty of: Horchow

Earthtone Colors

The color palette in a rustic home leans towards neutral, but there is room for bold, earthy tones. The nuanced colors from that natural world work best. Choose woodsy tones pulled from bark, stone, and soil.

Rustic Earthtone Bedding

Earthtone Bedding
The Highland Lodge Bedding Collection is a perfect example of how calming earthtones and natural colors remind you of the beautiful outdoors.

Repurposed Objects

Rustic style is all about making do with what you already have. Found objects are key, such as wire baskets being transformed into light fixtures and wood crates being reimagined to hold everything from books to blankets.

Rustic interiors lend themselves to cross-pollination with industrial style. It’s perfectly fine to incorporate offbeat lighting, artwork and decorative displays.

Textural Fabrics

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

Fabrics should evoke a natural aesthetic. A hand-woven rug, wicket baskets or faux animal throw add effortless rustic-style.

As most surfaces are simple and unrefined in this type of design, feel free to add pattern in the form of buffalo check, plaid, kilim, and patchwork. These patterns match the surrounding weathered elements.

Rustic Curator Cowhide Chair
Plaid Throw
Rustic Outdoor Space

Rustic Outdoor Space by Nelson Hancock Interiors

What is rustic design style? Designer’s Advice:

Be Surprising

“Look for opportunities to increase your connection with nature and the outdoors through larger windows, glass doors, skylights and the like. In selecting materials, reference nature in contemporary but unexpected ways. Rubbed steel and open grained woods done with subtlety and refinement, are ideal.

The interior should feel clean and not dark. Warm, saturated tones create a warmer feel, while cool grey tones make for a more Nordic feel. Pull the colors from the surroundings, such as grass green and sky blue from the landscape. Aim for a mix of saturated and light colors that play with light and how one moves through home.”~ Fawn Galli of Fawn Galli Interiors

Go Natural:

“The goal here is to maintain the natural elements in conjunction with symmetry and clean lines. Materials, like wood and stone, should reflect natural elements. Put a more rustic frame on a piece of modern art or mirror, add round and softer features to balance them out, opt for wood flooring with a fabulous contemporary rug atop—over-dyed, Moroccan, cowhides, etcetera.

I also love a great stone fireplace. My color palette leans toward earth tones with the occasional splash of something bright to catch your eye. For walls, go for wallpaper that very closely resembles wood or use neutral paint colors.” ~Santa Monica-based designer Kimba Hills.

Create Contrasts

“In a clean setting, rustic elements gain more attention and often take a more artistic and sophisticated feel than they would in an interior that is completely rustic. For me, chandeliers are very important. I love, for example, using rustic elements to create chandeliers; they gain a very dynamic feel when paired with elements that illuminate them.

I love reusing and repurposing old wood for flooring and walls. There is an authenticity to the material that can only be achieved from real use. Walls employing rustic materials are works of art in themselves. I tend to encourage my clients to refrain from hanging art on top of these feature walls since they ultimately detract from one another.” ~Phillip Thomas, founder and principle of Phillip Thomas, Inc. in New York City

Combine Styles

“You can create a rustic vibe in a modern room by using wood elements, such as reclaimed wood beams and stone, keeping all finishes natural and selecting a palette that complements the natural materials.

Juxtapose natural finishes with clean architectural details—wide-plank rift oak wood floors in a satin finish paired with white walls, for instance. Materials such as wood-paneled walls, field stones, black iron, brick, or a blackened wood finish (there’s a charring process that gives the wood age and character with a modern aesthetic) on either a paneled ceiling or walls create an unexpected punch.

Some of our favorite types of furniture for this look are live-edge dining tables and petrified wood pieces with textured fabric on upholstery.” ~ Cristina Peffer of Babcock Peffer Interior design firm in Southhampton New York

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