Everyone loves to feel warm and cozy in their home, and rustic style embodies this inviting feeling. Maybe it’s just nostalgia, but nothing beats a comfortable space that actually feels worn in and like a home. And we’re not the only ones that feel this way, as there’s been a recent revitalization and swell in popularity of this style for home and apartment decorating.
But if you want to bring a piece of that feeling and atmosphere to your home, where do you even get started? It all depends on what you’re interested in changing: Wall colors? Furniture? Smaller accent decorations? Let’s walk through each piece of rustic design so you have a starting point and better understanding of each, and then you can make the decision for yourself what to upgrade!
What is rustic style?
Before we dive into color schemes, materials, furniture designs, decor factors, and how to mix rustic with other styles, we should actually define what “rustic style” is. Rustic style or design is made to look and feel natural, aged, rugged, and organic. It is opposite to modern or contemporary design, where things are typically monochromatic, minimalist, and have hard lines. Rustic style also makes use of natural materials and handmade processes to add to the character of each item and enhance the feeling of being natural and worn.
Color palette ideas
If modern design is monochromatic or uses cool colors, rustic style heavily leans into warmer and earthier colors and shades. Subdued browns, reds, and yellows all fit perfectly in a rustic log cabin, and often are the colors of natural materials like wood, fabric, and stone. However, colors shouldn’t just be limited to warm hues. Rustic is based on nature and its beauty, so blues and greens are also common to see in cabins or lodges. The best way to incorporate these is to use a combination of light and dark shades of these colors, but to avoid ones that are too bright or bold. Below, we’ve included some examples of rustic color palettes that you can use for inspiration!
You’ll notice that all of these use shades of tan, brown, or khaki as a base, which is then supplemented by accent colors like reds, blues, or greens. They also have lighter color options that are paired with darker colors to make each stand out and give a richer appearance. These colors are great starting points for things like painting your walls, but also help you plan on a much larger scale.
Color palettes and schemes should be kept in mind when doing any decorating, whether wall colors are changing or not. It helps keep a consistency between rooms in the home and keeps decor and furniture in line with what you want to create.
Materials to look for
The next major category that stands out with rustic design are the materials. As mentioned earlier, these are centered around natural and organic sources, and align closely with the colors we just discussed. The most popular and prominent materials you’ll see in rustic style are wood and stone. These make up a large portion of things like furniture, walls, fireplaces, and more. However, other materials that fit great into this style also include metal, plants/leaves, terracotta/clay, and handmade fabrics. You can see how closely these materials tie into and are represented in the colors we discussed above, and why color and material are so closely linked.
How to decorate your home with rustic design
Now that we understand the foundational basics that make up rustic interior design’s colors and materials, it’s time to look at how you can start actually decorating or renovating. Depending on the scale of the changes you want to make, it might be helpful to put together a plan before getting started, rather than jumping in with immediate changes you want to see. We broke this section up into the two primary categories you’ll be looking at to upgrade your home, furniture and decor. New furniture usually results in a more comprehensive overhaul, while adding rustic decor can range from very minimal to just as extensive.
The most common type of rustic furniture are those made from wooden logs. Whether it’s bed frames, tables, chairs, dressers, and more, chances are that you’ll find plenty of wooden options, some with more natural characteristics like knots and beetle tracks than others. Wooden furniture can come in a wide variety of types, from pine logs to reclaimed sawn barnwood. Barnwood generally is less organic-looking and are usually squared like timbers. Logs and branches from cedar, hickory, and pine trees are more rounded and have features like burls that give them a more natural feeling.
However, wood isn’t the only kind of furniture you should look for — leather, fabrics, metal, and stone are great choices to accent a room or use together to create a unique style to you. The most important keys to keep in mind when looking for rustic furniture is their quality and whether it fits your planned color scheme. This will ensure that they last for years to come and you don’t have to return something that looks out of place when you assemble and incorporate it.
Decor & accessories
The smaller details that you use to decorate a home covers a huge amount. However, we’d recommend starting by thinking about your hobbies or interests and letting that guide you. This will help narrow your search to items that you feel a connection to and know a lot about, but also means that your home will feel even more comfortable and like an extension of yourself. If you like fishing, look for art, lights, or decorations that feature it. For hikers and explorers, find bedding and pillows that emphasize landscapes. If you’re trying to create a more western rustic theme, keep an eye out for stars and boots on items to place around the home. By really looking for accessories that have a personal connection to you, you’ll find it easier to make decisions and are sure to love them!
Mixing rustic with modern style
Just because rustic and modern are often thought of as antithetical or opposite ends of a spectrum, doesn’t mean that you can’t combine aspects of each. Building on that spectrum metaphor, you don’t have to go all-in on one style and use the extreme on either end. We think of it as rustic taking the edge off of modern style and modern adding some refinement to rustic style. Because of this, finding a balance somewhere in between often results in the most appealing spaces, but how can you go about combining these different styles?
Metal is a common material in both rustic and modern, so our first tip is to lean into and mix woods and metals. This could be a metal chandelier over a reclaimed wood dining table, or various other combinations. If you currently have a more modern space, we’d recommend trying to feature one rustic item (like a table or chandelier) to draw focus and take the edge off of the modern atmosphere. Our last tip is to refine the balance of each room — if it feels a little rustic or primitive, try incorporating more modern details like a vase, end table, or rug. If the space feels too modern, add small rustic decorations to balance the other way.