Articles Interior Design How to Get the Look: Rustic Interior Design

How to Get the Look: Rustic Interior Design

Rustic interior design can mean different styles – from cottage to farmhouse – but some elements remain the same: nature is the main source of inspiration and material, and comfort is top priority.

Rustic interior design, in its core, is a visual style that gives importance to all that is natural, simple, and inviting. Encompassing many specific design types such as country cottage or coastal, rustic style is one that appeals to any human’s desire to lounge in a warm and comfortable space.

There’s a reason why getaway cabins are so popular and many Airbnb rentals are decorated in a rustic or farmhouse style – a space that feels cozy and warm make space for people to relax and enjoy indoor comfort. By that reasoning, there shouldn’t be a reason why you can’t recreate the earnest escape in the thick of a metropolitan state, especially if the home-y atmosphere of this design style is enjoyed in many parts of the world. (Want to create a rustic space in the city? Check out our properties for sale here.)

As mentioned, rustic style is fairly adaptable to any space – from country lodging to Scandinavian-designed spaces, from log cabin style properties to coastal vacation homes – but certain elements have to be in place for it to be considered “rustic.” Here are 5 tips that cover those essential features to get you started on your rustic design journey.

Use what the environment has to offer.

Ceramic bathtub encased in wooden trimming in the center and his and hers sinks and vanities across each other

Possibly the main facet of rustic interior design is the use and emphasis on nature for materials and visual inspiration. Rustic style places importance on organic materials and natural designs, taking what the earth has to offer in terms of makes, ornamentation, and even color palettes.

Woods are a clear winner in rustic design, being used as a foundation for virtually every corner in a space – think flooring, walls, ceilings, storage units, and lounging furniture. Taking a step further, unfinished or reclaimed wood – if preserved properly – can make for an organic and rare look and feel. Raw materials like untreated stone, unpolished metal, or handwoven rattan work just as well for a rustic style home.

There is nothing modern about what we know as rustic home design (although some designers are playing around and merging the two to create a new style of their own). Materials used in furniture and fixtures are easily found in nature - plastic and synthetic are a no-no - and even forms (e.g. furniture styles and shapes) tend to be more traditional rather than experimental. Remember, rustic design tends to be simple and understated, letting the natural materials take center stage in a space.

Make your space feel warm and “lived in.”

Plaid-lined single chair beside wooden built-in cabinet for books and other items

Rustic design seeks to create an inviting and cozy atmosphere. This can be achieved by creating intimate nooks in an otherwise open layout, or building character in a space through personal touches. In terms of furniture, choose large pieces that evoke a sense of comfort and home; think soft beds and couches that feel like warm hugs or a sizeable center table where everyone in your family can gather for meals. You can also go for mismatched furniture, making your space feel even more personal and feel well-loved.

To make something look “lived in” and cozy with ornaments, consider the use of textiles and warm décor like candles and dining ware. Of course, these items should still be made with materials or carry prints and patterns found in nature.

Follow a natural color palette.

Lower bunk bed with stuffed animals and a children’s book

Much like with the materials used, the general color palette that rustic designers and decorators employ follows what can already be found in nature. Think greens from shrubbery, blacks and whites from animal hides, and browns from different kinds of wood. Using natural materials for your furniture pieces will almost automatically mean a natural color palette.

Earth tones (that aren’t considered neutral) are especially prominent in rustic interior design – being a typical choice for designers and clients who don’t want a purely minimalist color palette. Forest greens, ochre yellows, and sunset oranges all lend to a less boring, bolder approach to color without feeling too vibrant or peculiar in an otherwise natural space.

Since these colors tend to have darker undertones, you can keep your space bright by using white as your main wall color. Aside from bringing in more light, white walls actually allow wood accents and natural elements like indoor plants to pop.

Play with texture and shapes.

Glass and wood multimedia coffee table across a light gray l-shaped sofa

There's a certain roughness and grit to rustic home pieces and textiles. Imperfection is accepted and even encouraged, so as to further emphasize the "lived-in" aesthetic. Texture provides visual interest while highlighting the natural state of materials used in a space. Texture in this sense can be achieved by choosing to keep the grain of materials such as wood or stone, or using fabrics with a natural hand feel such as canvas or wool.

While rustic designers tend to stick to traditional styles for furniture, there's no reason why they can't have a little fun in the shapes and structures these pieces take. Keeping with the undone theme of rustic interior design, clean cuts and smooth edges are replaced by jagged lines and textured surfaces. Stools can have chunks of wood as feet instead of angular legs, and closet doors can be made from imperfect reclaimed wood instead of those modular cuts you can find in any hardware store.

Can’t find the perfect décor piece? Consider DIY projects.

Books and other reading materials on wooden bookshelves set in a room corner

It’s pretty common to find handmade items scattered in a rustic style home. Following the natural element of rustic design, decorators and enthusiasts prefer to pursue do-it-yourself projects instead of buying what’s available in the market (which more often than not, tends to be made with plastic or laminate) if they can’t find the right piece for the space. Popular examples of DIY crafts in the home include coat racks, planters, and even art pieces. Rustic style evokes a cozy and friendly atmosphere, and handmade décor that isn’t shy to show a couple of flaws accentuates that personal and home-y experience.

Handmade in a sense refers to resourcefulness, whether that be in the simple act of creating anew, or in recycling and building something out of what’s already existing. Upcycling old items can mean anywhere from promoting an eco-sustainable lifestyle in gratitude for Mother Nature to breathing a second life to a special memento or heirloom piece – all of which intensifies that sentiment and warmth that is quintessentially the goal of rustic interior design.

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