What is Rustic Design Style?

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.

Rustic design is all about creating a warm, inviting, comfortable space. This style is often associated with the countryside and features wood, stone, and other natural materials. The color palette for rustic design tends to be earthy and warm, with shades of brown, green, and red being popular choices. Overall, rustic design is an excellent choice for creating a cozy, inviting space that feels like home. (post updated May 2023)

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 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 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

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.

Rustic Decorating Ideas | Organic Living Room

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

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 Furniture

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

4.  Earthtone Colors

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

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.
Rustic Earthtone Bedding

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

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.

Rustic design in its most traditional sense may appear heavy and dark to some, but a modern rustic style has emerged over the past few years that takes a fresh and clean approach.

The term ‘rustic’ is rather broad, and many styles fall into this category. Its most basic definition describes a natural, rough, aged, and casual aesthetic. The defining characteristic of rustic bedrooms is the use of natural materials.

“Rustic design, at its core, is the use of organic elements in their most natural state,” says interior designer Katie Hodges. “Design is simple, natural, and has an earthy feel. Raw materials are also common, so rather than finding a sleek, glossy burl wood, you’ll find more reclaimed and unfinished woods and stones” — House Beautiful

My favorite place to purchase rustic bedding is through PASEO Road, as they have a wide selection of bedding styles, including Coastal, Farmhouse Savvy, Rustic & Shabby Chic, Western, and Southwestern.

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.

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 are ideal, done with subtlety and refinement.

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 the 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 modern art or mirror, and 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 a wallpaper that 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 in a completely rustic interior. For me, chandeliers are significant. 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 encourage my clients to avoid hanging art on these feature walls since they ultimately detract from one another. ~Phillip Thomas, founder and principal 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 with white walls. 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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What is Rustic Design Style?
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What is Rustic Design Style?
What is rustic design style? Defined, rustic style places a strong emphasis on bringing the outdoors in while embracing the rugged and natural furniture and textures. Although the term is rather broad, there are several elements that tie the many forms of rustic design together.
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Canadian Log Homes
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