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Rustic Decorating Style

what it is and how to achieve the look


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If you love Rustic Decorating Style you’re in good company! My philosophy is that styles of home decor fall into four basic categories…  

…with the Rustic definition encompassing a variety of interesting and captivating interpretations.

When a home is styled in a Rustic way you might automatically envision a log home with beefy rafters, hand-hewn furniture and a fire crackling in the fireplace.

Sounds pretty cool, doesn’t it? I lived in a home just like that for five years and loved every minute of it. My Great Room is shown to the left…fireplace is there too, across from the sofa and chaise  

 There are other interpretations that have a different flow and result but are rustic styling nonetheless. It’s going to be fun discovering how to create your own personal vibe. Let’s get started!

RUSTIC: let’s look at some of the synonyms for this term, as it can be defined and interpreted in a number of ways.

rural, pastoral, bucolic, unrefined, simple, plain, honest, natural, picturesque, homey, honest,  unaffected

I see a pattern in the terms above, and that is a the emphasis on the natural elements that comprise a Rustic Decorating Style. Here are some of the finer interpretations:



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Create the Rustic Look

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We are going to create a Rustic Style room from the ground up:

  •     Colors
  •     Floors
  •     Walls
  •     Furniture
  •     Accessories/Wall Decor/Window Treatments

By the way, I love the photo above. It exemplifies the ruggedness of natural elements with the softness of fabrics, accessories and detailing that create one interpretation of Rustic Style Decor.


1) Color, Texture & Pattern Set the Tone

Envision the outdoors…you decide where…and create a palette of colors to use in your Rustic interior.

The beautiful shades of blue that are found in the sky and water, all of the variations of green that nature provides in abundance in plants, leaves and stalks, the browns, tans and near black of tree trunks, and breathtaking evening skies with shades of purple, blue, green and yellow. Natural interpretations that blend the home’s interior with the view from the windows to the exterior. That is what rustic style color palettes are all about.

The images above show color, as well as texture and pattern, in two very different ways. On the left we have a dining area that brings the outdoors in with natural, neutral color selections from the floors right onto the ceiling. Light accents of bright orange and leafy green soften the overall appearance. We see just a glimpse of the outdoors, but can tell that there is a smooth transition from interior to exterior.

The bedroom on the right uses softer shades, which makes perfect sense in a room that is more of a feminine interpretation (yes, it’s a girlie bedroom), but the rugged ceiling beams bring us right back to Rustic Styling.

Texture plays a huge role in rustic style design. Look at any image on this page and what jumps out at you from the ceilings, walls and floors? Wood, brick, stone, iron, tile...these elements are present in each and every photo. Some are more rugged and others a little bit refined, but are always, always part of rustic decorating.

Here are a couple of images from Benjamin Moore that show us some rustic color palettes.

The Great Room on the top uses neutrals as a backdrop for the focal point fireplace and dark wood trusses. The dark toned wood floor creates a solid, natural foundation for the space, with a bit of sheen for sophistication.

Notice how the light accent wall highlights the fireplace and contrasts with the dark tones of the wall on the left. Very much a sense of light and dark…it works in this room.

The Kitchen shown to the left makes a statement with brick red walls and dark cabinetry, a solid combination for rustic designs. Notice how the dark wall color is used as an accent so as not to overpower the room.



2) Floor Selections in Rustic Decorating Styles

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Flooring in this casual, rugged organic style is typically wood, as you might expect.There are literally hundreds of choices that can fit just about any budget and style preference. Light wood tones to very dark…rugged and scuffed to polished with a sheen…your decision will be based on the lifestyle you lead and the ultimate look you want to create. But that is not the only ‘right’ choice by any means when decorating Rustic Style. Tile is also a popular choice, and again it offers a huge variety of price points, colors and finishes.

We can talk about many of the details in this rustic style bath, above (source unknown), but let’s look at the floor first. The tile chosen has a mottled finish and incorporates the tones of the wood and tile used in the rest of the space. It sets the foundation for the style, blends in without shouting at you.

How do you think a white/beige/cream tile would have worked in this bathroom? Probably not very well; it would have looked out of place, bland and much too light for the rest of the space.

The enclosed porch on the right, courtesy of www.postcardfromparis.com, shows us how a neutral based tile can elegantly showcase an area.I love the subtle gray-taupe tones of the tile and fireplace stone. They compliment the ceiling beams, chandelier and table bases.Plenty of natural lighting keeps the atmosphere in this area casually rustic and always inviting.



3) What to do with the Walls in Rustic Style Decorating

In Rustic decorating style, the walls can play a huge role in the creation of the mood.I love how the image above transforms itself from a simple, functional space to a fascinating array of textures and shapes. And, we only see a small portion of the bath. Stone wall, stucco wall and ceiling with a tiled floor create the backdrop for the unique finishes and decor in this space. Very cool.

When considering wall finishes in this style of decor, think 3-dimensional. The more rustic the interpretation, the more dimensional the walls may be.

Go back to the photo of my Log Home Great Room above. This room was 24′ x 40′ with 12′ high walls and a 22′ peak at the highest point of the ceiling. Every wall in that room was split-log and the ceiling was knotty pine. It worked really well because of the size of the space, and, we had natural light from windows/door walls in most of the room.

In this example of a log home dining area you can see that covering all of the walls in log when the space is not very large can create a different type of look.

If you want the aura of a cabin with all natural light sources it will provide an authentic look.

I love the light/dark contrasts in this living area.Wood paneled walls and ceiling are painted white, as is the trim around doors and windows.

Then rustic beams and beefy decorative trim in a dark, natural finish create the contrast.The Rustic style look continues in the furnishings, too, which is a consistent, creative finish to the space.

Color takes center stage on the walls and ceiling of this Tuscan style bedroom.

Dark finish on the wood floor compliments the ceiling beams and door/window trim.

If you want a vibrant look, this is one way to accomplish it with Rustic Decorating Style!


How cool is this rustic, wood-filled bedroom? I know...natural wood paneling everywhere, from the floors to the walls to the ceiling. 

What makes it all work?

  • the ceiling beams
  • the built-in bed with angled inset
  • the black accents - love those doors and the artwork!
  • the neutral colors - nothing else in the mix


4) Furniture Selection in Rustic Decorating Styles

Rustic Decorating Style encompasses a number of different interpretations, and furnishings will follow the lead, so….it depends on how you choose to incorporate the look into your home.

You may choose to maintain a rustic look with a log home or cabin and select log furniture and decor. That’s a great way to go. But you don’t have to take that road. You might decide that your log home will have a more traditionally furnished interior…great look as well.

What is the most important decision with furniture? MAKE A PLAN BEFORE YOU BUY ANYTHING.

This style has some very specific interpretations and furnishings can be quite an investment, so put some time and thought into the result you are hoping to achieve.

Let’s look at some photos – it’s a great way to find inspiration and ideas as well as convey a thought.

Rustic Style Bedroom with Log BedRustic Style Bedroom with Log Bed

Casual Living Room with a Touch of RusticCasual Living Room with a Touch of Rustic

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Rustic Style OfficeRustic Style Office

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Natural, Organic, Rustic Style BedroomNatural, Organic, Rustic Style Bedroom

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Vintage Rustic Log Home Dining AreaVintage Rustic Log Home Dining Area

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You’ve probably noticed that:

  •     some of the furnishings are strong, large and rustic, while others are more traditionally styled
  •     when a large piece is used in a room, the other pieces are generally sized a bit smaller, so the largest piece gets the ‘glory’
  •     in general, furnishings have an overall strong presence – you don’t see much in the way of small, fragile types of pieces
  •     pattern can be found on the upholstery, area rugs or on the window treatments. There is no ‘rule’ for Rustic style decor,but in general there is  not an overabundance of pattern in the room
  •     texture and finishes on the floors, walls and ceiling generally are the focal point


5) Accessories, Window Treatments & Wall Decor in Rustic Decorating Style

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We’ve talked about the colors, floors, walls and furniture in Rustic Decorating Style . Now come the finishing touches, including wall decor and window treatments.

Window Treatments – take a moment to slowly scroll up this page, then back down to this line. What do you notice? I see a common thread in each and every photo. Simplicity at the windows. Nothing ornate or overdone, and in fact you’ll see that several photos show windows with no covering on them at all.

When the walls and ceiling are a source of interest and play an integral part of the decorating scheme, the windows do not require a lot of ‘dressing’.

In our log home we used wood blinds that matched the stain on the interior logs and trim. During the day they were open and almost disappeared from view. At night when closed they blended in nicely with the split log walls and log trim.

Wall Decor –  Your finishing pieces in Rustic Decorating Style may be few, but will typically make a statement in the room, and, they might very well have some special sentimental value as well. With just a couple of exceptions you’ll notice that the rooms shown on this page do not cover the walls with a lot of decor.

Simplicity and a light touch with the accessories and wall decor is key…let the overall space speak for itself.



Rustic Style Bedroom with Soft FinishesRustic Style Bedroom with Soft Finishes

The photo above is a good example of how rustic style decorating uses the overall space to showcase the theme. In this bedroom it is the ceiling beams that are the focal point. A soft color on the walls, simple curtain panels and no visible wall decor shown.

Think about this: if the walls we can see had artwork on them, it would probably look overdone and cluttered. That is the beauty of Rustic Decorating Style. It is simply beautiful in the most simple way!

 



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