Rustic Kitchen Design Guide
A rustic kitchen design is an attractive choice for your home whether home is a mountain cabin, a backwoods hunting lodge, or a downtown apartment. You’ve probably got an image in your mind of a rustic kitchen, but let’s dig a little deeper on what the style means.
Rustic is a loose term, and like all design styles, there’s a lot of variation within it. The basic idea is rural, old-fashioned, and homey. Some rustic kitchens share characteristics with farmhouse styles, while others hew closer to the industrial. Others look like they’ve been transported straight from a French country house or a Tuscan estate.
Keep reading to learn more about this classic and cozy kitchen style, and how you can recreate it in your home.
What’s the Difference between a Rustic Kitchen and a Farmhouse Kitchen?
The farmhouse kitchen is a relative of the rustic kitchen, and they share many characteristics. Both styles are rural and old-fashioned, but the rustic look draws more from upper-class European sources like country estates while the farmhouse look looks more to American middle-class roots.
Color and materials are a good place to look. Farmhouse kitchens are often done in light colors with lots of tile and painted wood, while rustic kitchens tend towards natural finishes, like dark stained wood and stone.
So What Goes Into Rustic Kitchen Design Style?
There’s no one true design or pattern book for a rustic kitchen. Take a look at some of these elements and imagine how they’ll look in your home.
Dark Wood: Lots and Lots of Dark Wood
One signature element of rustic design is dark wood, usually stained. This wood can go anywhere: tabletop, cabinets, floor, maybe even the range hood. Dark stains show off the quality of the wood, and the visible grain emphasizes the old-fashioned rural aesthetic. It’s also good to add some subtle color for contrast – warm reds nicely complement rich browns, for example.
A great place for natural wood is in exposed ceiling beams. If you’re interested in design elements with a raw and uncomplicated look, ceiling beams can be rough and unfinished without getting in the way of using the kitchen.
Think Warm and Cozy
While white and airy looks are in vogue for contemporary kitchens, rustic kitchens tend to feel darker and cozier. Think about the wonderful feeling of sitting by a fire on a cold evening. Cozy doesn’t have to be actually small – a good layout can have plenty of room but still feel close and intimate.
You Can Definitely Use Stone, Too
Stone is a wonderful part of a rustic kitchen, and pairs beautifully with dark wood. Natural-looking materials pair well together, and can provide contrast in color and texture while maintaining a unified flavor. For something with a rustic look and practical function, consider a stone hearth, or a stone oven for baking bread.
Other great places for stone include the floor or the countertops. Stone doesn’t have to be limited to a supporting role – stone walls are a great rustic look. Like with wood, natural finishes are important to the style, but other colors and textures make a great counterpoint.
Brick is a great material that definitely has a place in the rustic kitchen. Brick can go most anywhere stone can, although it’s not practical for smooth surfaces like a countertop. A nice brick hearth is a great addition to your kitchen, or you could do your walls in brick for a beautiful look. To add a little brick to your look, check out a brick backsplash with a granite counter for textural contrast.
Brick is an excellent alternative to stone, and you’ll find it used in plenty of rustic style homes and kitchens. Brick can be used anywhere stone might be used, except for countertops, where smooth and level surfaces are important. Hearths, brick ovens and even the ceiling can all make excellent use of brick. And backsplash and brick are practically made for each other when it comes to rustic looks. If you really love the look and want to go all out, entire brick walls surrounding the kitchen can be a fantastic way to decorate.
Painted Wood Cabinets
There’s no law that says you have to have dark natural finishes. Painted cabinets can be rustic too, especially in nice earthy blues and greens. This can be a good way to make an older kitchen look new and fresh – a fresh coat of paint can work wonders on old wood. If you like a more distressed wood look, you can recreate that with paint, for a time-worn country kitchen style without sacrificing modern convenience.
Rustic Kitchen Cabinet Styles
Let’s dig a little deeper on the look of your rustic kitchen cabinets.
For Starters, Try Shaker-Style
Shaker-Style cabinets are timeless, and a dependable way to add some class to any kitchen. If your home leans toward the farmhouse end of the spectrum, Shaker-style is practically perfect. Add a little ornamentation in the hardware if you want them a little less sleek and polished.
Do They Need To Be Stained, or Can They Be Painted?
Your classic rustic kitchen uses dark-stained wooden cabinets that showcase the grain. That’s not your only option, though. A lighter color of stain is perfectly good, and could pair even better with a darker brick for a beautiful kitchen that doesn’t feel as overwhelmingly dark.
Paint can work too. Look at some earthy greens and blues. This can be especially good if your kitchen look is built around stone or brick. Your painted cabinets can be the contrast to your more natural stone elements.
Or, You Could Opt for Glass-Front Cabinet Doors
Glass is a wonderful counterpart for dark woods, and can do wonders to lighten up the visual weight of your kitchen design. It’s a great way to show off your best kitchenware too. Frosted glass or textured glass is often better than plain glass, which can look a little too contemporary.
Go For Open Shelving
Open shelving can be a nicely rustic look. If you’ve got great wood for your shelves, perhaps something reclaimed, don’t cover it up with a door. Show it off!
Salvage Some Wood
Rustic looks are lived-in looks, so lived-in materials are a great place to build from. If you’re particularly handy and resourceful, build them yourself, collecting wood from old barns or in your friends’ garages. The nature of your salvaged wood will define what your final look will be. Let the wood tell you whether to stain or paint.
Grain Is Good
Rustic kitchen cabinets don’t need to be smooth and sanded. Feel free to leave some grain and rough-hewn edges on the wood, and emphasize these elements with a good stain. Make sure to keep functionality in the front of your mind. A naturally rounded edge can look great on your countertop, but a natural divot in the middle will only cause you grief.
What About Handles and Hardware?
The same principles that guided your choices of cabinets should guide your choice of hardware. Natural texture is a key element of the rustic kitchen, so don’t go too polished and generic. Feel your hardware options instead of just looking at them, and maybe try some antiqued brass, brushed nickel, or iron. A little bit of ornament and detail is a good thing too.
More Ideas For a Rustic Kitchens
Here are a couple more ideas you can think about when designing your rustic kitchen.
A Wooden Range Hood
The range hood is sometimes an afterthought, but it shouldn’t be. It’s a large piece, usually centered or close to it, and around eye level. The range hood can make or break your design.
For a rustic kitchen, leave the stainless steel at the store and opt for either wood, antique copper, or brass for your range hood. You could try something unique, like matching the range hood to your wooden cabinets or use paneling made of reclaimed wood.
Another option would be to use wooden beams and create an arching range hood similar to a fireplace. French country houses often have beautiful ornamentation here, so if you’re feeling Continental, look at this as a place to add some élan to your kitchen.
Put In A Stone or Brick Hearth
Old kitchens were built around a wood-fired hearth since that was the only way to cook. Old-fashioned kitchens can get a lot of mileage out of a hearth, both for looks and as a place for people to gather.
Hang Your Pots and Pans From the Ceiling
It always comes around to materials. Natural-finished wood and stone pair beautifully with copper pots and cast iron pans. Show off your cookware with a hanging rack. This is also a great way to make the kitchen feel cozy. The hanging rack of pots and pans takes up visual space to bring in the scale of the room without taking away an inch of actual floorspace.
Match the Lighting Fixtures to the Style
A rustic kitchen doesn’t stop once you get over eye level. Choose your light fixtures carefully to complement the rest of the kitchen. Take a look at some nice bronze fixtures, or possibly some wood. This is a nice place for some reclaimed wood, as the look can be amazing even if the touch wouldn’t hold up in a more interactive area.