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Nailing the rustic look (no matter where you live)

Want to know how to nail the rustic look? Read on for ways to incorporate rustic charm into your home whether you're a country bumpkin or a city dweller.
Hints & Tips

Make your city home or country dwelling feel more rural with our tips on how to give it a rustic-chic makeover.

When you’re looking for the cosy factor, you can’t beat rustic country charm. It has such an unmistakable homeliness to it, you can’t help feeling comforted and taken care of.

Whether you live on the top-floor apartment in a busy city or are tucked away on a rural country lane, nothing quite beats the homely, restful elegance of rustic interior design.

If you love the relaxed rural look, there are plenty of ways you can incorporate the country feel into your interior. Find out how to nail that rustic look (no matter where you live) with our top tips.

Nature is your friend

As you might expect from a countryside-inspired trend, nature takes centre stage when it comes to rustic home design. This means you’ll need to get your inner Attenborough on and take an inspiration-gathering visit to a local woodland. Take plenty of pictures, and you should end up with lots of ideas for materials, colours and textures to include in your home.

You can decorate your home with a wide array of different textiles, decorative items and materials, with the only rule being that every item should look like it could be found in nature (even if you actually bought it at your local furniture shop). Add in a bit of greenery – whether that’s houseplants or vases with large branches or fresh flowers.

You’ll find that wood is the key element here, perfectly utilised as wooden bed frames or wooden coffee tables, or even in the smallest touches like wooden coasters or wooden vases. In fact, when talking about rustic home design, the durable, versatile and always-stylish wood deserves its very own section…

Rustic style wood-n't be complete without wood

There’s nothing more country than the beautiful grain and unique charm of all-natural, exposed wood. There are hundreds of types of wood to choose from, which makes it so much easier to decorate around your home’s existing design.

If you live in modern dwellings with a minimalist look, white-washed bamboos or the lightest shade of pine can help you seamlessly add warming wooden elements to your home. Of course, if your home is fairly old-school, there’s no end to the types of woods that you can use, from the reddish-brown of mahogany to the light brown of oaks and beeches.

The beauty of a rustic home is also in its mismatched and free-spirited approach to design. Want to pair walnut-shade wooden beds with a light ash bedside cabinet? Go right ahead. Really love your sycamore TV stand but can’t find a sofa to match? Mix-and-match away, and you’ll have nailed the carefree charm of rustic design.

For the ultimate rustic look, replace any carpets in your home with wooden flooring, and strategically place woven rugs where you’d like your toes to be most cosy (we’re thinking under the sofa, under the bed and next to the kitchen sink).

Staying true to the rustic ethos

As we’ve mentioned, rustic décor is all about carefree, not-quite-perfect design. So embrace that rugged feel by shunning new and instead looking for any opportunity to upcycle existing furniture.

Going to vintage markets and garage sales, checking with your friends and neighbours, or even just taking a stroll around the neighbourhood could uncover some would-be gems that simply need a little revamp to restore them back to glorious health.

Rustic ethos is all about well-used, well-loved and worn, so restoring old furniture and breathing new life into hidden gems can be a fairly easy process (just a lick of paint is often all that’s needed) to give your home that just-perfect-enough shabby-chic vibe.

Take care of colour and lighting

For a country-style home, it’s inevitable that the most popular colour schemes reflect the colours found in nature. We’re talking natural tones of brown, beige and cream as a base for flooring, walls and bigger pieces of furniture (like light-brown wooden bed frames or cream coloured bath tubs). Follow those natural neutrals with bolder pops of colours, from canary yellows, burnt oranges and duck-egg blues to neon shades (yes, your rustic home can pull them off).

You’ll also need to think about lighting to help create that cosy atmosphere this style is famous for. Bright white lighting will feel far too clinical for a rustic home, so going for warm lighting that can be adjusted to whatever feels most comfortable to you is the best way to go. To that end, install dimmer switches wherever possible, and use layered lighting – from aged chandeliers up top, wall sconces lower down, and a mixture of floor and table lamps for cosy corners – to give your home a laid-back feel.

Showcase your home’s features

One of the things rustic homes celebrate is the homes themselves. Look around your home and consider whether there are any unique, original or period features you could highlight during your décor efforts.

Lucky enough to have a fireplace? Use it to the fullest by making sure it works properly and using it whenever it’s cold enough to do so. Make a show of the fireplace by giving it a quick refresh (repainting or even sanding down and refinishing it) and decorating the mantlepiece (with organic, natural elements, of course, and maybe a candle or two). If you don’t have a fireplace, you might even consider reinstating one (look for tell-tale signs like a chimney breast).

Whatever your home has to offer, make the most of its features to really celebrate the authentic feel that rustic design aims to capture.

The best rustic materials

As you go ahead with your rustic-design makeover, try to stick with the right materials and colours for true country style. Apart from the exposed wood and natural elements already mentioned, some of the best rustic materials include:

  • Woven textiles: including plaid and patterned designs. Go for textured textiles for the biggest impact.
  • Animal hides: Whether you opt for real or synthetic, animal hides such as sheepskin look beautiful in rustic homes.
  • Matte metals: Whatever metal you go for – silver, gold, bronze or copper – make sure it’s non-shiny. The older, rustier, and more vintage-looking the better.
  • Woven baskets: From rattans to woven wicker, going for woven baskets – or even footstools and ladders – helps add even further natural textures to your home.

So, there you have it. Some easy, simple ways to add that rustic look into your home. Whether you’re surrounded by the bright sounds and buzzing hums of the city, or are surrounded by greenery, tall trees and bird song, it could take only a few simple touches to turn any home into a rustic-inspired, country-style beauty.


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