The New Rustic

By Kate Riley August 18, 2011

Hello!  I love it when the day comes to feature a contributing writer!  We always discuss what topic would be interesting to the readers, and this month Michelle came up with the idea of rustic style and how it’s making a comeback in a new way.

Take it away Michelle!

“What do you think of when you hear the phrase "rustic décor?"  Do you think of log cabins, plaid flannel, and grizzly bear rugs?  Well, think again!  The current design trends in rustic décor are chic, romantic, and anything but predictable or kitschy. 

Gone are those dark wood paneled walls from the seventies.  These days, smart architects and designers instead think upward.  Open wood beams are one way of putting natural wood on display and channeling a rustic vibe when the rest of the space is decorated with traditional or modern furnishings.  The beams provide an interesting and rich contrast which draws the eye up. 

rustic open beam living room

Tracery Interiors, Atlanta Homes Mag


house beautiful wood beam hallway

House Beautiful


high beam ceiling sutton suzuki

Sutton Suzuki Architects


These days, rustic décor covers the design gamut, capturing a little piece of farmhouse, traditional, cottage, industrial, and vintage styles.  The main element found in rustic décor is a layering of natural materials, such as of salvaged wood, river rock, glass, stone, brick, and tarnished metals.

house beautiful rustic dining room

House Beautiful

Mixing natural woods and materials creates a comfortable, worn vibe that often causes people rethink their notions of rustic décor.  Once you pair a mix of textured materials with a sophisticated color palate, you are on the road to a beautifully decorated rustic room.

house and home rustic kitchen

Canadian House & Home


One way to approach rustic design is with a romantic touch.  By contrasting with softer features, rustic décor can balance well with flirty accents or modern designs.   

design sponge rustic elegant bathroom

Design Sponge


Another way to use rustic, natural materials without overwhelming a room with the rustic theme is to pair the natural materials with turn-of-the-century industrial pieces.

Industrial décor often includes old factory furnishings, utilitarian pieces, and a lot of stainless steel.  Industrial chic pieces work well with rustic décor because both styles use repurposed materials, but in different ways. The contrast of the two styles helps the distressed, rustic elements to stand out on their own in the room.

House Beautiful

Design Sponge


rustic wood bathroom



so lovely pallet island apartment therapy

Apartment Therapy


Some rustic designs beg for bold color palates, but one also has permission to create a rustic vibe with a white or neutral color palate. 

white rustic kitchen via apartment therapy

Apartment Therapy


house beautiful open neutral rustic living room

House Beautiful


If you’re looking to add a little bit of rustic décor to your home, but don’t want to commit to an entire room, it’s easy to start with a few small rustic accessories.  Here are a few of my favorite DIY rustic décor projects that are relatively easy to tackle.

By attaching several salvaged fence posts together with lumber strips, you can create your own personal piece of rustic art for above your bed.

house tweaking rustic love headboard


Repurpose a pallet into a headboard and pair it with antlers for a fresh take on rustic décor. 




Drill a few holes through some old wooden garden stakes and loop them together with twine for a chic and practical front door entry.

blue cricket design rustic wood entry mat

Blue Cricket Design


Or simply hang crates on your wall and back them with decorative papers for a clever approach to storage. 



design sponge rustic wood crate shelf

shelving images via Design Sponge


For that wow factor, make a bold statement in your modern space with this clever rustic wood room divider. 

rustic wood wall divider apt therapy

Apartment Therapy

Or add character to your casa with a weathered barn door. 

barn door marionhouse

The Marionhouse Book

Repurposing any kind of wood, including hardwood, driftwood, pallets or old wooden crates, is the way to add those rustic elements from nature that appeal to us all.  Whether your style is traditional or contemporary, masculine or feminine, every home can incorporate a touch of rustic décor with ease.  Just remember to skip the grizzly bear rug!”

Agreed Michelle!  “Rustic” doesn’t mean “hunting lodge” anymore.  The new rustic is the pairing of reclaimed wood and natural elements with modern pieces in a fresh new interpretation.  Today, rustic has a new definition and we’re all delighted to see the design world embracing this style with creativity and enthusiasm.

Hop over to say hello to Michelle at her blog Ten June!  Also don’t miss their big reveal on their bathroom renovation, it’s gorgeous! 

What’s your take on “rustic” décor?  Love it or leave it? 




  1. Great post! Just gorgeous. If any one knows where I can find those chairs or chair covers – the ones with the ruffle at the bottom – I would greatly appreciate it!!!
    Thanks ;)

  2. I love this post! I’m finding that my eye is moving more and more toward the new rustic look. Thanks for the ideas on how to slowly incorporate it into my home.

  3. I love the look but I think at the end of the day, I am still more urban than rustic…but hey once I get all rich, maybe i will decorate my cabin in Tahoe like this…..

  4. This totally is my style! I just “pinned” nearly every. single. picture. from this post! Thanks!
    Amy in Austin, TX

  5. Thank you thank you for this guest post. I have lived in the mountains my whole life so I hate the moose head, fish, elk motif that EVERYONE decorates here. When I ended up buying my own half log sided home I knew I had to add in some rustic in order to design in harmony with the elements of my house (knotty alder ceilings, doors, baseboards, window casings). I slowly started finding ways to bring a chic rustic feel to my home but have found it SO hard to find good examples of this for inpiration. This post was perfect for me and I LOVED the pictures. Thank you so much!

  6. Hey Stacia, I know not of where those chairs come from, you could contact the architect. Ballard Designs has some similar pleated slipcovers for their Parsons and Couture chairs, I have them in my dining room!

  7. I love rustic interiors and live with that style every day so I am a little bummed that it is coming back. The thing I love about it is that is that it is a natural way of decorating. It isn’t purposeful or contrived but rather evolves naturally over time. From the easy-to-live-with neutral tones, natural wood, baskets, copper bowls, hand woven textiles and rugs, sand and shell collections . . . I never tire of these rustic elements and the story behind every piece in a room. It is a style that is easy to live with and timeless. I’m going to go sit in my living room and drink it all in!

  8. Love it! That Sutton Suzuki Architects photo has always been one of my favorites! I have been working on a way to make my 7 year old son’s room rustic without looking too themy. I haven’t gotten very far yet but I am working on it!

  9. I could live in any of these places… so beautiful and so much character! Thank you for sharing this collection

  10. What a great post, Michelle! I love rustic touches in traditional or contemporary decor and you rounded up the perfect images to illustrate just that. Thanks for the inspiration!

  11. I am in LOVE the garden stake door mat. I think this is going to be my next project. I have a vision of pushing all the boards together, stenciling a design and then putting them on the rope with the spaces in between as shown in the photo. How perfect!!! LOVE!!

  12. Fantastic article–loved reading through and getting ideas! I’m all about the rustic–I have soda crates hanging in my kitchen for storage and just finished building a new kid headboard out of repurposed bed slats.

  13. Love, love, love it all! I’ve always been drawn to this look, as long as it’s not too heavy or cabinish. I’m getting a bit tired of all of the the super-feminine French Country look, but love some of those French pieces mixed with rustic!

  14. Love it and am living it. :) I like putting romantic touches into my decor and an element of surprise. Great pics!

  15. Wow I love the French style kitchen and the living room with the mezzanine library. That would be my perfect retreat!

  16. I much prefer this modern take on rustic over an old unabomberish hunting shack on the side of a mountain that my husband would undoubtedly love to retire to (I’m sure he’ll be very happy there). Great examples to show how far this style has come!

  17. You have just found me a new favourite bathroom. That white brick and timber bathroom is amazing – a little rustic, a little glamorous. Gorgeous post!

  18. I wanted to thank you for this post. I live in a recently built log home and it is not decorated in the cabin style. I have mostly white in my decor. When building I couldn’t find any photos of log homes decorated in anything but bearskins and plaid flannel, all dark colors. This is very refreshing to see someone other than myself thinking outside the box. Thanks again you have made my day:)

  19. Kate,
    Thank you so much for having Michelle. We just bought a new home and as I was trying to figure out how to decorate it ( it definately has a rutic feel to it as soon as you see the house) and looking around the blogasphere and pinterest for different elements I liked. I came down to rustic, modern, traditional. So I am glad it has a name-“New Rustic”. Now I can feel comfortable with my decision to mix the 3 together.

    Your blog is fabulous by the way. You have a very good eye for design.


  20. Love love love it. Michelle sure hit the nail on the head! Rustic and modern styles combined in one room are some of my favorite spaces!

  21. I love this post!! When I think of the new rustic – I think of the movie set ‘It’s Complicated’ – can you say dream home?? all of these photos are just lovely! great inspiration :)


  22. I love the contrast of rustic finishes and more modern pieces… The bathroom vanity cabinet is gorgeous with all the white tile, brick and fixtures [it still feels warm and inviting].

  23. Wow, just the perfect article of words and pictures…and your DIY – well absolutely inspirational and down-right-clever. Thank you to Michelle and Centsational Girl

  24. This makes me think of chic rustic:) It’s like a romantic, cottage spin on rustic and it is beautiful!! Who wouldn’t love some high, rustic, exposed beams in their great room or dining room! So beautiful!

  25. Mostly I don’t care for rustic. A little goes a long ways. Some of it is quite nice but some just looks like barn or garage or junk store stuff. I like a little more refined look.

  26. I really like rustic decor! I actually don’t have much of it in my own house though…I might need to change that!

  27. Great article! I just found your website and LOVE it! I also wanted to add that an old door turned sideways and hung makes a great headboard as well!

  28. This country girl loves what you shared in this post. This is my kind of style. ;) My mom has an old cabinet (circa 1920) sitting out in her garage and going to waste… I so wish she would part with it!

  29. Old wood: love it! I could totally see the pallet headboard in my house. I like the box shelves too, but good luck finding any around here.

  30. I love rustic furniture! I love how it can make any room feel warm and how the imperfections tell stories. I have nothing against formal and shiny furniture but I sure love having something that I wouldn’t be afraid of using because of fear of scratching! Your article is enlightening. Rustic has really gone a long way from being just dark and masculine to hip and chic!!

  31. Okay! This is right up my alley — salvage alley that is. Love this blog and this guest post. Great job Michelle. Thanks for sharing how salvaged woods can be used in a variety of styles — the possibilities are endless. I love themm all! Joanne, author of Salvage Secrets

  32. That House Beautiful photo with the loft is by far up my alley. I would love a nook like that in my home. That’s perfection!

  33. In the process of doing DYI…in love with the rustic/reclaimed wood look but don’t know where I can purchase salvage/reclaimed wood…please give suggestions. Thanks!

  34. Lesley,

    There are lots of options for reclaimed wood. If you have a “yard composting” site in your area where people take greenery from their yards for composting, many will accept old fencing, which is PERFECT for lots of reclaimed wood product. Get permission before you try to salvage wood from a commercial location.

    Try calling local fencing companies as well. When they replace old fences, they typically have to pay to send that wood to a landfill and will happily give it away instead. Check with pallet-building companies as well to see if they have old, damaged pallets you can purchase.

    You can always purchase board ends, slightly warped reclaimed boards, and even prime lumber from lumber companies or flooring companies that work with reclaimed wood. You won’t need a lot, and sometimes purchasing just a piece or two of really beautiful wood pays dividends because the finished product will be something to love.

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