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Everything You Need To Know About Rustic Interior Design

The term ‘rustic’ when it comes to interiors is quite broad, so what exactly is ‘rustic’ interior design? Anything from a traditional farmhouse, to a Tuscan villa might come to mind, and rustic design can be interpreted in many ways, however, there are a few key elements that make a home rustic in style. Whether you’re redesigning your entire home, just one room, or you have a new property to style, here’s everything you need to know about rustic interior design…

What is Rustic Interior Design Style?

When we use the term ‘rustic’ in interiors, this actually covers a wide variety of sub-styles. These could include country cottage, Hamptons, coastal and Tuscan, all of which are considered to be rustic styles.

Looking back at the history of rustic interiors, the style first dates back to the early settlers in the US, who brought very little furniture with them. Homes were quickly put together using local materials, which was in stark contrast to the traditional homes in Europe and Colonial styles. The look was in some ways unfinished, and mismatched, but lots of natural materials were used and the laid back approach resulted in a style that was casual yet charming and unique.

Modern rustic style is all about natural materials, textures and a laid back feel. A rustic home should be comfortable and cosy, as well as stylish and simple. The style is completely unpretentious, instead a rustic home feels welcoming, as if you are stepping into your own home, or a wonderfully familiar space. This look is a great option if you want to create a space that’s light and airy as well as cosy and comfortable.

What are the Elements of Rustic Interior Design?

As with any interior style, there are various key elements that are essential to the rustic design look. One of the main things to consider at all times when creating this style is to keep the look laid back, focusing on creating a characterful space…

Natural Materials

The main element of rustic interior design is the use of natural materials.

From wooden furniture and exposed beams, to wooden doors, jute rugs, stone walls, furs, skins and even antlers, the more natural materials you can use, the more rustic a space will feel.

Texture is also important in this style, seeing as there isn’t much use of colour or pattern. Add interest with an abundance of textures - natural materials of course offer loads of texture, so in focusing on building a look that uses lots of organic materials, you should have this covered.

Where possible, avoid anything with a glossy finish - high gloss kitchen cabinets and polished surfaces won’t be found in a professionally designed rustic space.

Neutral Colour Palette

Generally, a rustic home is simple with an earthy feel.

Colours are kept muted, instead of bright and to a minimum, allowing the natural and organic elements in the space to take centre stage. A simple colour palette is a must for rustic décor - think lots of browns through the use of wood, jute, canvas and burlap, as well as white, warm whites, beige and taupe tones.

If you do want to bring in a little colour, stick to shades you might find in nature, such as greens and blues, in muted tones.

Traditional Design

This style tends to lean more towards traditional rather than contemporary.

On-trend modern designs such as geometric patterns, or brightly coloured plastic chairs would not be well suited to a rustic-style interior. Instead think vintage furniture that’s a little rough around the edges, unfinished woods, wool blankets and quilts and rattan lamp shades.

When it comes to rooms such as kitchens, opt for shaker-style cupboards and wood tops, over sleek high-shine doors and marble worktops.

Handmade & Vintage Furniture

Items that you will find within a rustic home are unique, often handmade, or old and with a history. This means that they are full of character and charm.

When it comes to furnishing and dressing your rustic home, avoid picking up mass produced pieces, instead try looking for unique items in charity shops, online auctions, vintage and antique stores.

For the pieces that you do have to source new, look for designs that have an authentic vintage feel, such as a faded vintage-look rug, or a convincingly weathered table. Always remember to look for pieces that are characterful to get this look right.

Exposed Elements

Much like the industrial interior design trend, the rustic interior style isn’t shy about the bones of a building, and instead celebrates the materials it’s made from.

Exposed beams and brick work well in a rustic home. If you do choose to expose wood beams, keep the look light and natural - remove any dark paint or stains, letting the organic beauty of the wood take centre stage.

Materials don’t have to be high-end or perfectly finished either, even a rusty old tin roof on a shed or a brick wall with marks and flaws can be embraced with this trend.

What Makes a Style Rustic?

Traditional rustic design tends to use deep, earthy tones and in some cases can feel a little dated. However, this style has been updated for the 21st century, with a lighter colour palette, and bringing in elements from other trends such as industrial and Scandi or bohemian touches.

Contemporary-rustic design is just as charming and characterful, yet it allows you to create a home that’s light and airy, comfortable and easy to live in. The look is still very natural, but features a white-washed background from which to build on.

Walls of course don’t need to be white, they can be pale grey or taupe, but in keeping walls light and simple, you can then make the rustic features, furniture and décor the focal point.

The main focus of this style is the unfinished, laid back look - this is what makes a space truly rustic.

Don’t shy away from raw woods, or furniture that’s scuffed or marked with smears or splatters of paint. Rustic style should look organic and easy, rather than too try-hard. Avoid varnished and perfectly painted finishes completely.

Authentic vintage is the way to go, or ‘shabby chic’ look furniture, as well as handmade. When choosing a piece of furniture, think about if someone were to ask you about it, whether you’d have a story to tell - if the answer is no, it may not work well in a rustic home.

When it comes to furniture, opt for large pieces that are fairly simple in design. Overly decorative or elaborate designs don’t fit well with the rustic style. Think chunky wood sideboards and vintage dressers, big tables made from solid wood, and thick wood benches.

Flooring again should be kept simple, ideally with materials in their natural form, such as real wood flooring, or stone.

To add a cosy feel, dress floors with large woven jute rugs, skins or faux furs. The rustic look doesn’t have to feel harsh and unwelcoming - it’s well suited to a cosy feel and dressing floors, sofas, windows and beds can all work well with the right approach.

When it comes to soft furnishings, opt for natural materials such as cotton, linen or canvas, and stick to a neutral or muted colour palette. If you want to add pattern, checks and stripes work well.

For accessorising your home, less is generally more. This isn’t a style that’s well suited to maximalism. Remember where this look came from - the early settlers in the US that arrived with very little.

This doesn’t mean to say that you shouldn’t dress your space with accessories, however opt for fairly simple pieces and don’t over clutter the room. Pieces such as rattan lanterns, seagrass baskets, large white pillar candles and a few houseplants in glass terrariums all work well.

For more impactful pieces, try a large log store in an alcove, or antlers mounted on the wall above the fireplace.

Metals can also be used in a rustic home, but should be used sparingly, and in a finish that doesn’t appear glossy or shiny. Industrial-style metal lights and lamps work well with this style, or if you prefer something more subtle, try rattan and seagrass lampshades. Avoid anything overly luxe, such as chandeliers, or lots of highly polished gold.

If you want to create a home that feels honest, comfortable and laid back, yet charming and cosy, the rustic style could be a great option.

This is a flexible look that allows you to pick and choose the elements you love the most, whether that be creating a country cottage design, or drawing inspiration from coastal homes, or choosing a simple rustic look using the key elements that make up this style.

  • Posted On: 19 July 2022

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