Whether you are elbow-deep in the latest interior trends or not at all concerned about them, the term “rustic interior” should be quite familiar. After all, this interior style is having a huge comeback due to its sustainability and eco-friendly lifestyle ideas. And yet, it's a tough interior to pin down, at least at first, so let's take a closer look at it.
What is a rustic interior design?
The rustic interior style holds a few key elements. First, it’s all about a rugged and totally unpolished feel. Think natural materials, reclaimed wood, stone, and bulk handmade furniture that doesn’t necessarily have to come in a perfect match. Second, having a rustic home means creating a relaxed, cozy yet functional space without putting too much effort into it. The usual approach to creating a rustic interior is letting the natural beauty shine instead of hiding the flaws and overdecorating. Have old wooden beams or slightly uneven hardwood floors? Embrace these elements as they are the foundation of “rustic”.
The origins of rustic interior: from farmhouses to urban spaces
This interior design is based on the lifestyle of early US homesteaders, who settled and built their homes far from cities in the early 19th century. Usually, they brought little or no furniture with them as it was too heavy to move, and had to do with what was available at the place of settling. Their homes were usually simply and quickly put with local materials and they focused on functional spaces along with an effort to make them as cozy and inviting as possible with the scarce resources. That is why to this day a rustic interior may appear rugged and somewhat chaotic at first, but feels comforting and cozy once you see its natural beauty.
Nowadays, this interior design is widespread across homes, restaurants, and other spaces. Just remember that family cafe you like that has stone tiling on the walls, raw beams across the ceiling, and a simple menu written on a chalkboard. And although sometimes rustic interior is intently built from zero, it is a great approach when renovating and giving a second life to a place that originally has authentic rustic elements.
Only natural materials
What you can instantly notice about rustic interior decor is that it exclusively uses natural materials. From raw wood and stone to metal and animal hide, all these earthy elements create that roughened, gritty look that instantly distinguishes rustic from other similar interior styles. And yes, for this reason, some may think of rustic interior as dull, but there is more to it - natural materials offer a wide spectrum of earthy tones and a spectacular variety of textures that allows you to create a space that is just too far from boring.
Natural wood is probably the most prominent element of the rustic interior. And the key here is to embrace the rough, even worn-out look instead of polishing everything out to the shine. When choosing wooden furniture, go for bulkier, roughened-up pieces, like an old dining table and chairs for your living room or a heavy wooden bed for the rustic bedroom. Although now you can find a lot of new rustic-themed furniture, don’t miss a chance to look for second-hand treasures in your local flea markets or even start your own DIY project.
Wood paneling for walls or cupboards is also in line with the rustic interior. Depending on the color, you can expect a more luxurious look with darker wood shades and a cozier, wood cabin-inspired feel with lighter wood. And don’t worry about mixing different colored wood furniture and other wooden elements - it is allowed.
This element is a great tool for adding a luxurious touch to the rough rustic interior. Consider iron as white metal or brass and copper as yellow metal, depending on your color preference. Opt for aged or distressed metal to create an authentic feel.
Metal can be nicely incorporated into the interior in a form of lighting, exposed pipes, faucets, handles, and knobs. You can even find household appliances designed in a rustic manner to fit the interior beautifully.
Fieldstone fireplace is another signature decor element in a rustic interior. If you do not have a fireplace that is not a problem as the stone can be used to decorate a portion of the wall in the living room or other spaces. Stone tiling is also a great option for the bathroom as it offers a distinctly rustic look alongside practicality. You may also give your kitchen a rustic revamp with rough-looking stone countertops or a kitchen island top and create a truly unique look as there are many options of color and texture to choose from.
Fabrics of many sorts are a great way to soften the rustic interior. After all, the main goal of rustic style is to create a warm, cozy, and inviting atmosphere where you can instantly feel at ease. Natural materials like wool and linen are what you should aim for. Also, play with different textures that these fabrics offer - a chunky woolen blanket for cozy evenings on the sofa, a knit throw for the bed, a hand-woven rug for the living room, or linen curtains to frame the windows. Various prints and patterns like checkers and stripes are welcomed in this interior, too.
Earthy color palette
Colors in the rustic interior are obviously neutral and earth-inspired. But they don’t necessarily have to be limited to browns, greys, and beiges. If you are creating a rustic-styled space, do consider incorporating other shades as long as they look natural and in-tune with the unpretentious atmosphere.
Here are some ideas to try:
- Calm blues and greens are easy to incorporate into rustic space as they go well with both colder and warmer tones of the interior. They are also wonderful for bringing a feeling of luxury without steering away from the rustic style.
- A great way to soften the rustic interior is to opt for warmer and lighter colors, like a combination of natural flax, soft rose, off-white or similar shades.
- If you feel the original rustic interior might be a bit monotonous for you, you can certainly elevate it with splashes of brighter colors. In this case, try to maintain the down-to-earth feel with terracotta, yellow, and even flora-inspired ornaments.
Typical rustic style decor elements
As the origins of rustic interior suggest, it favors handmade decor elements that are purposeful and do not overstuff the space. Cozy up the living room with rough clay vases, terracotta pots for the plants, and plenty of cushions on the sofa along with a couple of throws. Natural linen bedding or hemp bedding in mute colors will be a perfect choice for that wooden bed in your rustic bedroom. As for the kitchen and table decor, the goal is to create a simple, homey atmosphere, so opt for tableware that would have a handcrafted feel to it, pair it with presoftened table linens, and feel free to keep kitchen towels and aprons hung in a visible place.
Another decor element worth mentioning is lighting. Make sure you have several sources of soft yellow or orange light that you can switch on to your liking, be it bras, floor, or table lamps. Candles are also a great way to achieve mellow lighting with very little effort. As not every home has an actual fireplace, these two elements combined can create cozy fireplace-like lighting in any room.
Key elements to creating a rustic interior
- Rustic is all about cozy and unpretentious. So avoid polished looks and don’t be afraid of rough and rugged.
- Opt for natural materials like wood, stone, clay, and metal and natural fabrics like linen, wool, or animal hide. Hardwood floors, wooden beams, stone fireplaces, and handmade blankets are often found in rustic interiors.
- The base colors of the rustic interior are neutral and earth-inspired, like warm beiges and browns and colder greys. Mix in muted blues and greens or accents of terracotta, yellow or soft rose through accessories and interior accents. Nature-inspired prints and patterns will also go well in the rustic style space.
- Don’t rush to invest in new things - visit local flea markets for unique handmade furniture and decor elements.
- Decorate the rustic interior with functional pieces that have a handmade feel to them. Think rough clay vases, terracotta plant pots, and knit throws. Look for artisan clay or stoneware dinnerware and handcrafted linen accessories to decorate your dining room and kitchen.
- Create cozy fireplace-like lighting by installing several sources of warm light. Bras, table lamps, or floor lamps all work well for this purpose. Another simple way to mimic fireplace light is with candles.