What is the rustic look? How to get a rustic look in my home?

At Modish we specialize in rustic decor, a no-fuss aesthetic that shows the beauty of subdued hues, natural materials and comfortable furnishings. Prominent brands like Uttermost, Kalalou, Accent Decor and Artisan Living showcase the best of rustic design and décor that are pleasing to the eye and easy on the pocket.

Rustic is one of the most popular design styles this year for homes and businesses. After the pandemic enforced shutdown, people have been redecorating with enthusiasm and rustic décor and furniture have seen a big comeback.

One of the questions that we get asked regularly is, what constitutes ‘rustic’? Now, rustic is a word you hear very frequently, while describing home decor, but it's one of those styles that can be hard to pin down. Whether you're looking at a shabby chic farmhouse or a log hut in the mountains, how do you decide what actually makes something rustic? Is a design style that mimics a farmhouse, rustic, or will a liberal use of unpolished wood make for a rustic décor? Actually, there are a few key elements you need to make your home fit the bill, but once you have it down it's pretty easy to spot.

The dictionary meaning of “rustic” is to make in a plain and simple fashion; related to rural countryside. A rustic home, therefore has design elements that go back to the basic, be it for material or for structural design, put emphasis on the natural and the organic. Most rustic pieces are made from real wood, sometimes only lightly treated or entirely natural. Think reclaimed wood, raw materials, and elements that come directly from the earth.

Rustic design a style that's natural, aged, organic, and maybe even a little distressed. A style which empahsises the natural shape, or surface of material, opts out of elaborate designs or handiwork and favors functionality and organic finishes can be called rustic. Rustic decor also feels completely unpretentious. It's a type of design that is incredibly approachable and relaxed. It should feel welcoming and easy.

Design styles like farmhouse, Tuscan, lodge or coastal can also be described as rustic.

  • Use of Natural Materials- One of the defining features of a rustic home is the use of natural materials. Wood, iron, stones, (both in furniture and on ceilings/walls), and fabrics like jute, burlap and canvas, grasses like bamboo, rattan, seagrass. "Rustic design, at its core, is the use of organic elements in their most natural state," says interior designer Katie Hodges. Design is simple, natural, and has an earthy feel about it. Raw materials derived from nature, with as little transformation as possible are common, so rather than finding a sleek, glossily polished burl wood, think reclaimed and unfinished woods and metals. Even the surface of wood or metal or stone is not perfectly planed and polished but the natural surface is maintained as far as possible. The whorls in the wood, the notches, the uneven tones are not imperfections to be corrected, but to be incorporated into the design wherever possible.
  • Handmade- In keeping with the natural theme, rustic furniture is handmade. The designs and shapes are generally simple, letting the materials stand out instead. Furniture is usually comfortably sized , and is designed to feel cozy, easy, and sturdy. Heavy wood furniture, made from raw logs, boards, and stone is common. There is no place for spindly legs. The structural design prioritizes practicality and simplicity.
  • Muted colors- Predictably, the color palette swings heavily towards neutral, but there is room for bold, so long as it keeps to earthy tones. Accent colors like greens, browns, dark reds and grays are common. The emphasis favors warmth, so it doesn't feel too cold and stark. However, you can even find unusual shades like blue in petrified wood.
  • Imperfection is Perfection- The philosophy of rustic is to celebrate imperfections. The aesthetic is not to create perfect shapes, perfect items. Imagine a teakwood dining table with a rustic aesthetic- the slight imperfection in the structure of wood, the notches, the knots, the whorls, the broken annular rings in the wood are kept that way. It makes the piece of furniture more interesting as you can see the ravages of millenia. Similarly for driftwood, the structure of the driftwood is maintained because it shows the journey of the piece of wood through ages.
  • A bit of roughness, and less polish- Rustic furniture and fabrics have a bit of a roughness to them. The design is never perfect, as much of it is made from raw woods and stone, so it feels a bit undone. It prioritizes practicality and simplicity in structure. A variety of shapes, textures, and colors from the natural materials ensures that pieces are unique and not cookie-cutter. You want to feel as though your materials have been roughened up a bit by the elements, so you'll often find reclaimed wood or driftwood. As for textiles, you'll never find anything with sheen, but rather, more raw fabrics such as jute or animal hide.
  • Values of warmth, coziness and comfort- The rustic design seeks to create an atmosphere that's comfortable and inviting. An oversized fireplace will often be the center of a living room, and even though everything is a bit raw, the warm colors, texture in the form of woven baskets or rugs, and natural textiles make it feel particularly homey.
  • But you don't have to go full rustic to get that cozy vibe. "The best designs are those with an element of surprise," Hodges says. "Rustic elements can be incorporated into any design style, as long as it’s calculated and well-measured.


How many elements of rustic design need to be added to make a room look rustic?

Stock images of rustic décor show rooms with a surfeit of solid wood furniture, inviting fire burning in the mandatory fireplace, handiwork on the walls and animal heads staring down at you. But we cannot emphasize enough that there is no need to change all the elements (furniture, lighting and décor). You can use a few pieces of well selected items—a largish natural trophy head on the wall, woven basket lamps, lots of green plants in woven grass baskets, an accent chair of woven leather and or a roughhewn console table of driftwood or a tree slice table. It all depends on how you highlight the rustic piece that you have- maybe place it at the center and highlight it with a lamp overhead. You don't have to go full rustic to get that cozy vibe. Rustic elements can be incorporated into any design style, if it’s calculated and well-measured.

What is rustic country décor?

Rustic country décor uses weathered or slightly distressed wood, metal or fabric. Some walls are made of exposed bricks or stones, and the floors maybe made of tiles

What is modern rustic décor?

Nowadays modern rustic décor is being tried to blend modern elements like an open floor plan, modern style furniture made out of natural materials but without the solidity of the traditional country design. The walls and floors are normally sleek and smooth as in most modern designs.

What is farmhouse style of décor?

Farmhouse style is an interior design style that reflects the aesthetics of rural architecture with emphasis on coziness and a lived-in feel. It prioritizes practicality and simplicity. It uses a mix and match of textured surfaces to create interest, jute, burlap, woven cotton, chintz curtains, large glass windows, exposed brick walls etc. There is also a judicious mix of pointe and patchwork embroidery on chairs as cushions or on the walls. The color palette is not dull and muted but fresh and pastel.

Can rustic country style ever look elegant?

Good question. The answer is Yes, we can! The most important thing you can do is to first make sure that all or most objects fall within the same color palette. Mix colors so that the same shade is repeated in the room. Even small style flourish in the same color works well.

The second idea is to keep it simple. Elegance springs from simplicity. Too many accoutrements, too much embellishments detract from the overall design scheme.

Do not use too many stand out pieces in a room; rather try to keep one or two accent elements and try to blend in the rest.

What is the color palette which is best for the rustic décor?

Colors found in nature like pale golden, dark golden, brown color of the wood, green of the nature, reddish brown of leaves or flowers and neutral background color of white, beige or off white. None of the colors ‘jump’ out instead flows like a smooth river.

Is rustic style going away in 2021-2022?

The rustic style is here to stay but getting a small makeover. The country chic design integrates rustic décor and furniture with clean fresh color and simple finish. Rather than distressed look and gray palette colors, try colorful designs and simple smooth wood finish.

What is the difference between rustic and modern rustic colors?

Modern rustic works with clean fresh colors along with the natural wood finish, whereas the rustic style is more natural color palette.

What are some of the budget quick fixes I can do to get a rustic décor?

These are some cheap quick fixes we recommend

  1. Neutral colored walls in a fresh lick of paint
  2. Use woven baskets for storage or for plants
  3. A wire cabinet on the wall
  4. Avoid bright colors
  5. Use muted colored fabric as throws or cushions. Repeated style flourish
  6. Woven grass (bamboo, rattan) light fixtures
  7. Leather chair as an accent furniture
  8. Use of wood accents on the wall, maybe a rustic shelf.
Is grey a preferred color in rustic décor?

No grey is no longer a preferred base color for rustic décor; it may be used as an accent.

What kind of wood is used in rustic furniture?

Rustic furniture is typically made by hand ( or mostly made by hand) from real wood from teak, oak, cherry, maple, pine and others.

Why do oak and ash make for good rustic furniture?

Oak and ash is very dense, strong and sturdy, attractive but nt very easy to work with.

How do I choose which wood to go with for my rustic style furniture?

There are three factors that determine the choice of wood.

  1. Your budget- Some woods cost more than others. Knotty alder or rustic pine is slightly cheaper. Reclaimed wood, hard maple, red oak, and hickory is more expensive. Black walnut is the most expensive. If you’re on a strict budget and want a dark colored wood, you may opt for a less expensive wood finished with a dark walnut stain.
  2. Color you want to choose- The natural colors of woods vary, and you can customize the color of most woods with stains. There are four popular options: natural color with a clear finish, special walnut stain, dark walnut stain, and ebony stain.
  3. Texture you want - Softwoods, like pine, don’t have a very pronounced wood grain and have visible knots. Hardwoods like alder, oak, hickory, maple, and walnut offer a more striking wood-grain. If you want a rough, rustic texture you can choose rustic pine as your wood for tthe natural rough texture. Or you can go for reclaimed wood for an authentically rustic look.