Last Updated on June 12, 2023
Have you ever dreamed of living a slower-paced life in a country house away from the chaos of the city? If so, you probably love the rustic interior design trend.
Interior design is far more than wall tilings and matching counter stools. It helps us establish a deeper connection to our immediate environment, i.e., our homes.
The rustic style has a genuine warmth about it that makes it the perfect style for the kitchen, the place where food gets prepared, and family comes together to eat and spend quality time together. The style achieves this coziness with the natural raw materials, warm color palette, distressed furniture, and the sense of DIY all over the place. But there’s a thin line between rustic and a cabin in the woods.
Here we put together what rustic interior design is all about and what you should look for to create a warm, welcoming kitchen with fantastic rustic elements while retaining a sophisticated vibe.
What Characterizes Rustic Design?
You might have heard the word “rustic” thousands of times when talking about interiors with natural elements. As easy as it is to throw the term out there, it’s one of those styles that is hard to pin down. Are we talking about a shabby yet stylish farmhouse or an aloof cabin in the woods?
You might be able to distinguish between rustic, farmhouse, cottagecore, Tuscan, and coastal without a problem when these design styles are taken to their extremes, but subtle nods can look quite similar to the regular eye. So what exactly characterizes rustic?
Before the designer wood ateliers took it over, the rustic design was favored by the pioneers in America who built their homes out of natural materials readily available to them. That’s why you see lots of raw wood, stone walls, natural textile, and repurposed items in rustic settings. At the time, it was more of a necessity rather than a design aesthetic.
The rustic design incorporates natural, aged, and maybe even bunged-up-looking pieces in a way that creates a cozy, warm space. You can think of it as the opposite of contemporary, modern styles.
Having said that, you don’t have to live off the grid to enjoy some rustic aesthetic. Today, rustic is more about paying homage to that natural lifestyle. It’s all about creating cozy, warm spaces by emphasizing the uniqueness of organic accessories on each corner.
Although rustic is a pretty broad term and encompasses different design styles that favor natural materials, at its most basic, rustic design is characterized by the use of organic materials in their simplest form, like raw wood, unpolished steel, or unglazed terracotta.
Why Go for a Rustic Style Kitchen?
One of the best things about a rustic kitchen is the welcoming atmosphere. Compared to modern, contemporary, or even Scandi settings, rustic spaces are always easily approachable and relaxed, focusing on warmth and comfort on top of anything else.
Coziness is one thing that everyone should be allowed to feel in their homes, and rustic design provides that in abundance. Natural textures like wood, clay, wrought metals, stone, or even mud can be used to liven up the room. On the other hand, a perfectly symmetrical kitchen with clean lines and refined furniture can make us feel uneasy.
One of the most beautiful things about rustic settings is that they genuinely feel lived in, which means you don’t have to stress about keeping everything pristinely neat, unlike modern and minimalist settings. If you take these styles to their extremes, their charm is rather fragile. Leave an empty cereal bowl on the counter, and the appeal is broken.
And lastly, rustic design is very flexible and inclusive. Our spaces are never stagnant; they evolve with us depending on our moods, phases, and where we are in our lives. Rustic design is a great way to go because it’s so easy to adjust and nudge toward different styles or incorporate new elements. Since the idea is to emphasize the character of each piece, you can get away with introducing eclectic objects much easier.
Clash of Styles
One common design misconception is that only one style should be implemented at a time. But the juxtaposition of different styles creates a striking contrast. You can absolutely mix rustic settings with other styles, such as contemporary, modern, minimal, Scandinavian, or even industrial.
The key is to embrace the similarities between the styles you’re mixing rather than trying to follow each one to their most recent trends. It’s perfectly okay to incorporate offbeat lighting, artwork, and decorative displays here and there, as long as you keep them as accents without letting them overpower the overall atmosphere.
Choose materials and objects that resonate with your own personal style. A home is meant to display things that embody your personality. This is the best way to achieve a harmonious continuity without making your place look like a room out of a catalog. Remember: personalization makes you connect to your environment.
Design Ideas for Your Rustic Kitchen
Now that you know what rustic design is and how it can help you to turn your space around, we can move on to some practical tips and tricks for inspiration.
1. Use Distressed Wood Furniture
You can’t go for rustic design without having a love affair with wood. Using wooden furniture like countertop stools, dining tables, and chairs is one of the fastest ways to bring a rustic look into your kitchen.
There are all kinds of wooden furniture, from modern to Scandi. For a more rustic look, opt for slightly more rugged furniture instead of those that look sleek and glossy, with perfectly clean lines. You can also repurpose a few hand-me-downs or dig up some treasures at a flea market. Taking something from the past and giving it a new lease of life is the ultimate rustic spirit.
2. Natural Foliage
Some trends come and go, but natural foliage never ceases to be trendy. Plants bring a piece of nature to your kitchen, clean the air, and even reduce your stress levels while complementing perfectly to any rustic setting.
Fresh flower arrangements take effort to maintain, but they look great. If you choose to go for them, opt for wilder arrangements. A fresh-from-the-garden bouquet or woodland-floor flowers is a much better choice for your rustic kitchen. Or, if you prefer your flowers alive, consider winding vines or shrubbery. And while you’re at it, why not plant them into handmade clay flower vases?
3. Handmade Pottery
Clay and ceramics eloquently express the work of human hands, and they practically last a lifetime — unless you drop them on the floor. The human touch creates a tangible quality with both an aesthetic and sentimental appeal. Plus, the natural texture of clay and glaze perfectly complements any rustic setting.
Placing handmade flower pots, vases, or even water jugs here and there is a really good way to add an authentic touch to your setting.
4. Clay Dining Sets
Clay is a charming material for showing off the uniqueness of each piece. A dining ware with unique elements is just precious. As opposed to all the same cookie-cutter sets, handmade ceramic mugs and platters all show that novelty.
Getting a handmade clay dining set might be a bit of a stretch, especially considering the affordable mass-produced homeware industry. But when you get a clay set, you not only highlight the natural elements uniquely but also support the effort and craftsmanship of your local artists.
5. Display Natural Fabric
Burlap, canvas, jute, faux animal hide. Sturdy fabrics with a good deal of added texture are perfect choices for any rustic kitchen. Place a jute kitchen rug in front of your sink, hang up canvas drapes, or get chairs with burlap upholstery. You can even implement some red and white gingham jam covers, but be careful not to cross the line between rustic and granny.
6. Repurpose Objects
Rustic style is all about muddling through with what you already have. Repurpose mason jars, turn woven baskets into light fixtures, and reimagine wood pieces to hold anything from napkins to books.
Upcycling is great for both your household economy and the environment. Wood is one of the easiest materials to work with, and it happens to be the middle name of rustic design. So the next time you have an orphaned piece like a wood shutter, shipping pallets, baluster, or old wooden drawers, try to think of new ways to use them.
7. Hang Up a Copper Pot Rack
Copper is an excellent thermal transmitter. For that reason, copper cookware is necessary if you want to go pro in certain cooking areas, such as baking and candy making. But apart from their functionality, copper cookware can easily turn into pieces of art with their alluring shiny reddish hue that warms you up only by looking at them.
Plus, what’s better than open storage that looks like decoration? So try hanging a couple of copper pieces on your pot rack, and while you’re at it, make an arrangement by hanging some dried herbs on the rack to make it even prettier.
8. Bring In Designer Objects
One of the best things about rustic design is that you don’t have to obsess about finding perfectly matching items. While it’s important to maintain an organic look with warm colors, you can still mix and match different pieces as you please.
Therefore, don’t hesitate to showcase the eccentric pieces you have. It could be a designer piece you bought from an atelier or a functional souvenir you got from your recent trip (e.g., a Moroccan tagine pot, a Japanese Suribachi, or a Thai granite mortar and pestle).
9. Use Woven Baskets
Bring a boho look into your rustic kitchen with a few artistic woven baskets. Baskets are useful for storing things, from kitchen towels to vegetables that need to be stored outside the fridge. But you don’t have to use them in traditional ways to enjoy their woven texture.
For example, these Atera Handwoven baskets are great for both practical tasks and as decor. You can simply place one on the countertop or table as a fruit bowl or cluster them on a wall as decoration.
10. Install Stone Countertops
Natural stones are the best materials for a countertop, thanks to their sturdy and robust nature. As much as they are practical, they also bring the natural colors, veins, and speckles of natural minerals to your kitchen.
A big one-piece marble or granite countertop creates a presence throughout the whole kitchen that looks like it’s been there for a very long time and could survive even an earthquake. Pick from heavy, one-piece marble or granite countertops with the shades you like the most and see how they transform the feel of your space.
11. Make Use of Vintage Finds
Some original rustic kitchens from 16th-century homes have evolved into more modern spaces over the years. This means you can find real vintage stuff that once belonged to these original rustic kitchens, such as the fixtures like sinks, beams, and shelves, or just small accessories like pitchers, vases, and cups. Transforming other vintage finds is also an option.
Look out for old dressers that you can repurpose as cabinets or turn into a kitchen island by installing a stone countertop. Classic brass or copper sinks and taps are also good finds. Once you give them a gussy up, they’ll shine on your countertop for many years.
Over and Out!
Cozy is probably what most people want to feel in their homes more than anything else. Incorporate wood, natural stones, and raw fabric in your kitchen to achieve that tranquil and inviting setting. And remember: while the rustic interior design is a great way to achieve it, you don’t have to go full rustic to get that cozy vibe. A carefully picked element of surprise makes any space more inviting and memorable.