A rustic kitchen will instantly breathe warmth and a welcoming atmosphere into your home. It doesn’t matter how large your space is or whether you live in the city center or the countryside. With the right ideas and good execution, your house, too, can gain the coveted pastoral charm of this classic design style!
If you’re looking for inspiration to fuel a kitchen transformation, try these rustic kitchen ideas on for size!
What Makes a Kitchen “Rustic”?
It’s difficult to say what exactly “rustic” means. There’s no formal definition to the word at all (at least, in an interior design context).
People may describe a cabin in the woods or a farmhouse kitchen as “rustic.” In the same breath, they can also describe a quaint house on the coast as “rustic.” Even an apartment in an urban center — when it’s designed or decorated a certain way — can be “rustic!”
“Rustic” isn’t a singular design style. Rather, it is an entire design category composed of many different variations. Each one has a special look and feel to it.
A coastal rustic kitchen, for example, will be different from a farmhouse kitchen.
The aesthetics and general vibe of a modern country kitchen will surely be different from that of a cottage-style kitchen.
However, no matter which variation you go for, they all share certain characteristics that unite them underneath the “rustic” umbrella.
The greatest characteristic that sets a rustic design apart from others is the focus on making the space feel organic and natural. Think wooden walls and furniture, granite countertops and backsplash, etc.
Having a rustic kitchen is like bringing a slice of nature into your house.
This is what gave the style its “warm and open” reputation. The organic feel of the materials and decor is very freeing and relaxing.
Additionally, the aesthetics elicit a historical feel, too.
Rustic kitchen design has a very long history that dates back to the 19th century. The design principles have remained mostly the same from then to now.
If you look at this drawing of a household kitchen in the 1800s, you can probably find many familiar features that are still present in modern-day rustic kitchens.
For this reason, a rustic kitchen — even when newly built — can tug the heartstrings and evoke some powerful nostalgia. This is especially the case for rustic designs that lean more toward traditionalism, like in this sample:
Furniture & Decors
Rustic, as a word, isn’t just an adjective about the countryside. It also means “plain and simple.”
It’s a mantra that should remain in your mind as you plan your kitchen’s furnishings. Focus less on looks and more on functionality and minimalism.
Furniture should be sparse and simplistic in design without a lot of adornments. Of course, they have to fulfill their respective roles well. Anything that doesn’t have an important role in a rustic kitchen ought to be left out.
But that doesn’t mean the furniture shouldn’t look good. Pick pieces that are simple in design without looking too plain. If that sounds a bit too vague, then see the chairs in this kitchen as an example:
Although their design is simple, they are attractive thanks to their coloring, texture, and material. Such simplistic beauty is what you should aim for while you’re furnishing your kitchen.
Furthermore, if possible, stock your kitchen with pieces that look as if they have a story to tell. Think worn-looking chairs and cabinets made from weathered wood.
They can lend your rustic kitchen a sense of history. Even if your kitchen is brand new, such furnishings can give it a highly desirable lived-in feel.
Your decor should be toned down to a minimum. Feel free to keep a flower vase, a calendar, a fruit bowl, or a few personal keepsakes here and there, but try not to go overboard.
Like we mentioned earlier, the “rustic” design school has a lot of variations. Each variation will give your kitchen a different look and feel. It’s up to you to decide which one suits your personal taste the best.
If you have a soft spot for the quaint, historic look of more traditional variations, try something like a traditional farmhouse or cottage-style kitchen.
These are what most people think about whenever the topic of “rustic design” comes up.
They typically make full use of natural construction materials. The color palettes focus on warm neutrals. Furniture is sparse and unadorned. Overall, these designs will have very old-fashioned, yet warm and charming looks to them.
But your kitchen doesn’t necessarily have to look like it has been ripped straight from a documentary. It is entirely possible to blend old and new to create contemporary rustic variations like modern country or coastal.
Modern rustic designs are more accepting of bright colors and man-made materials (metal, ceramic, porcelain, etc.). They aren’t afraid to use more modern-looking furniture and decorations, either. Nevertheless, to keep things “rustic,” you will find that natural materials like wood and stone are still mainstays.
Since such styles offer the best from both old and new design philosophies, they have become very popular in recent years.
A rustic design is successful when it provides people with a feeling of warmth. One of the many routes to this end goal is through the use of wood tones and warm, neutral colors
The reason is simple enough: woody and neutral colors are very prevalent in nature. When these colors are combined with proper lighting, the result is a very cozy-looking space that’s highly organic.
In traditional designs where natural materials are used to their fullest extent, wood tones can make up a huge portion of the color palette.
One downside to this is that, if overdone, all of the warm tones could make the entire space feel dark and heavy. Such an all-wood design could also be “too rustic” or “too traditional” for some.
As a result, many modern variations of rustic designs prefer light neutral colors like white, ivory, or eggshell as the dominant color. Meanwhile, wood tones end up serving as secondary or accent colors.
Such a palette will make the space brighter and thus more modern. Still, with clever use of materials and furniture, you will be able to maintain a rustic, warm sensation.
The appearance of any kitchen is dominated by the materials from which it is built. Like we said earlier, all-natural building materials like wood, stone, or tile are integral to rustic design philosophy.
Wood is the most popular component due to its versatility and inherent beauty. It can be used in everything from furniture to cabinetry to architectural elements for the kitchen (flooring, ceiling beams, wood trim, etc.). Plus, as far as appearance is concerned, few people can say no to the simplistic beauty of wood’s natural grain.
Rustic rooms look best with either reclaimed wood or raw wood. The choice is yours. However, whatever you do, we highly recommend that you avoid using faux wood. Real wood panels work best in a rustic design.
While the warm, neutral tones of wood make things feel warm, the dark coloring and rough texture of stone will lend your space a cooling sensation.
This is not necessarily a bad thing. It can work as an excellent counterbalance to the warmth of wood. If you balance the two materials well, the result will be a very harmonious space.
Aside from regulating the color temperature of your space, stone can be leveraged to make a strong aesthetic statement. Few materials have the coloring or texture of natural stone. Therefore, when incorporated into the space, stone items can easily become defining features.
Take the stone backsplash below as an example.
The unique coloring and the jagged, rough-hewn texture of the backsplash immediately draws the viewers’ attention simply because it is different from all the other surfaces.
In addition to serving as a visual centerpiece, stonework can also form an excellent backdrop for decorations and furniture.
For rustic kitchens that lean more toward traditionalism, natural stone tiles (granite, limestone, marble, etc.) are the most preferred. They create that more organic look that is the bread-and-butter of rustic styles.
However, if you teeter more toward modern rustic designs, artificial stone tiles like ceramic, glass, or cement can be used. Just make sure to balance them out with some warm tones and natural materials to keep things rustic.
If you need an example, here’s a sample from Laura Medicus which perfectly demonstrates this principle.
20 Best Rustic Kitchen Ideas
Now that we understand the style’s groundwork, let’s take a look at some examples that we find inspiring. Take notes on anything that stands out to you!
1. All-Wood Interior
An all-wood interior is probably the most classical approach to a rustic kitchen. It’s exactly what it sounds like: all (or at least the vast majority) of the surfaces and furniture in the kitchen are made of wood.
The concept is simple, yes, but highly effective and can give spectacular results, as can be seen in this rather charming sample.
Warmth practically oozes from the rich, warm wood tones, giving the room a cozy and welcoming feel. The warmth of the wood is further enhanced by the use of warm-colored lighting. Natural light flowing in through the windows also helps bring out the wood’s full color spectrum.
Such a kitchen may not need any extra decoration to liven up the space. The fantastic patterns in the wood already embellish the space in a natural way.
2. Go for the Grungy Look with Weathered Wood
Like we said earlier, one of the things that makes rustic styling special is its storied feel. Specifically, the space should feel as if it has a history. You can replicate this effect by going for a worn, distressed, or vintage look.
Instead of pristine, freshly-processed wood in your kitchen, try weathered wood for taste!
The grungy appearance of the material gives the kitchen a very “lived-in” look, which is exactly what we’re aiming for.
However, due to its worn appearance, it is very easy for such a kitchen to feel uninhabited and desolated. Be certain to give it plenty of light (preferably natural) and stock the countertops with appliances and other small decorations to liven up the space.
3. Embrace Imperfections in Old Furniture
Another way that you can execute this idea is by filling your kitchen with old furniture pieces.
Normally, furniture that’s dented, scratched, or covered in chipped paint is a terrible eyesore, but not in a rustic kitchen. Such pieces can actually improve its look.
You can often find this sort of furniture in garage or yard sales and purchase them for cheap. Failing that, you may try antique shops.
Can’t find any but still want the look? You have two choices. One option is to have them custom-built. Or you can paint and customize the furniture pieces on your own if you have the knowledge and tools for it.
4. Mix in a Few Modern Touches
There’s more than one way to design a rustic kitchen. If a traditional rustic kitchen isn’t your cup of tea, you can choose to throw in a few contemporary touches to update the look.
You can start by departing from the conventional rustic color palette. Instead of relying on warm wood tones as the primary color of your kitchen, use something bright and clean like white. Then, you can follow it by pairing the white with dark, complementing colors (it’s best not to use any color that’s too bright or distracting).
In the case of the transitional rustic kitchen design above, the walls, upper cabinets, and countertops are painted white. These details are contrasted by the dark blue cabinets below, which create a harmonious whole.
You can add some sleek-looking stools and contemporary lighting fixtures to complete the modern look.
Nonetheless, make sure to keep things rustic by incorporating a few wooden or stone details here and there. In this sample, the designer did this by plating the floor with hardwood. On the ceiling, the wooden supporting beam lends the space its own natural texture. You can also spot timber accents on the stools and hanging shelves, as well.
Overall, while this kitchen design surely is modern, it clearly hasn’t forgotten its rustic roots.
5. Texturize Your Walls
Though one of the defining features of rustic designs is simplicity, you may notice that this principle doesn’t necessarily apply to texture.
Sure, the furniture pieces are unsophisticated. Decor is often intentionally limited to preserve the sense of simplicity in the kitchen. Nevertheless, you will find a lot of textures in that space.
Most popular and obvious is wood, but your options go far beyond that.
The walls can be built from stone so that they’re adorned with its unique rough texture. Countertops work great with the alluring pattern of marble. The backsplash may be covered in textured tiles to make the wall area stand out. Even brushed metal kitchen appliances fit right in.
As you can see, by smartly leveraging the natural textures of materials, you can create a space that isn’t too flashy but is definitely not boring!
6. Pick an Achromatic Palette
Achromatic colors are those that have no dominant hues, such as black, gray, and white.
Though rustic kitchens have a very limited color palette to begin with, you can still go a step further by choosing a two-tone, achromatic design. This may be just the ticket if you lean more toward the contemporary side.
From the walls to the cabinets and countertops, everything is painted a pristine white. Contrasting the bright color is the dark wood flooring and the window frame.
While the coloring isn’t the most exciting or visually rousing, it does a decent job at prettifying the room in a subtle, yet no less elegant or dignified manner.
7. Differentiate with Nature-Inspired Colors
While warm neutrals are a signature of the rustic design school, there are other options to investigate. If you’re willing to break the mold on design, it’s entirely possible to incorporate colors into your kitchen. It all depends on how radical you want your design to be.
If you only want to subtly differentiate yourself from the norm, your best option is to use nature-inspired colors. For example, in this contemporary rustic kitchen design from Cosentino North America, the furniture is painted a mossy green, which complements wood tones very well.
Alternatively, you can choose something like a baby blue or sky blue color. Such light shades of blue work especially well in a kitchen with plenty of natural light and which uses white as the dominant color. It’s like having a piece of the sky in your kitchen!
8. Warm Up with Hot Colors
After all our talk about the importance of neutral, low-key palettes in a rustic kitchen, it might seem like using bold, vibrant colors is taboo. For some people, it is! But that shouldn’t discourage you from giving your rustic kitchen a few splashes of bright color if you so wish.
Here is a snapshot from a rustic kitchen project in Vermont, courtesy of the Wadsworth Company.
Of course, the most prominent feature of this sample are the crimson-red cabinets that visually stand out from the otherwise neutrally colored space. That exciting color gives the kitchen a certain pizazz and certainly makes it stand out from other designs.
Nevertheless, as you probably already noticed, despite the sprightly color, the cabinets don’t stick out in other ways. They fit in with the rest of the ensemble to create a coherent design.
The reason is simple: the focus of this design is on maximum warmth.
Crimson is a very warm color that pairs best with other tones of similar temperature. It’s a role that the wood beams and floorboards inherently fit into. But the decisive part is up on the ceiling. Warm-tone ambient lights can make even the cold surfaces like the white marble countertops inviting.
9. Refine with Cooler Colors
While we’re on the topic of colors, you can reverse the thermostat and cool the room with colors like blue, green, or violet. Unlike hotter colors, cold colors won’t be as exciting or energizing. They inspire the exact opposite: relaxation and de-energizing.
Thanks to their subdued nature, you can craft a stately, elegant look with them, too.
In this farmhouse design from Brooks Custom, the cabinets are given a very pale green — almost blue — color. It conforms excellently with the white-painted kitchen and the light-tone wood that gives the kitchen that rustic feel we’re after.
Just like how warm colors will pair best with other hues of the same temperature scale, cooler ones go better with other cool tones. Typically, that would be white, beige, and other neutral tones. This sample is a good demonstration.
Natural lighting is leveraged in the form of big windows. While warm colors will require the aid of artificial lighting to create a matching warm atmosphere, cool colors play very well with natural light.
10. Keep Things Simple
Like we said, minimalism is one of the core philosophies of rustic design. Indeed, you have the option to go all in on it if you wish for your kitchen to have an extremely clean, uncluttered look.
In a large space, a minimalist approach will make the space more airy and brighter (especially when combined with plenty of lighting and windows). Additionally, from a psychological standpoint, a minimalist space can improve your mood and mental well-being, as well.
But the value of a minimalist approach is best seen in a small kitchen. By clearing clutter and freeing up space wherever you can, you can visually expand your room and make it seem larger.
Take the extra steps and arrange all of your furniture, appliances, and tiny decorations to maximize floor space, as well. That could very well turn your kitchen’s small area from a hindrance to an advantage!
11. Accentuate with Clean Metal
Metal may sound like a strange addition to an organic and natural design style like rustic. But metal details and accents can be incorporated to elevate the look of your kitchen, especially if you’re going for a more modern look.
“Clean” metal is popular in French-style or modern/contemporary rustic kitchens. The metal is unblemished to show off its own color tone and natural beauty.
In this design, you see the pendant light frames, the pot filler, and faucet are all made of brassy metal. Warm-tone metal like brass has an elegant and luxurious appearance. However, be sure to keep it subtle. You don’t want your kitchen to become garish.
One key trick is to only use non-glossy metal. In other words, pick fixtures with brushed or matte finishes. Since they’re not too shiny, they won’t stand out too much, preserving the kitchen’s sense of modesty.
12. Stand Out with Dirty Metal
Dirty metal is the diametric opposite of the above. This class of metal — like galvanized, corrugated, or weathered steel — has an inherently worn-out look, which is highly desirable in many variations of rustic design.
An industrial rustic kitchen, for example, can benefit greatly from a few such pieces.
Aside from giving your space the coveted storied, lived-in aesthetic, the worn, rough texture of dirty metals can make for an interesting contrast with wood or stone. Their dark and cold coloring and imperfect texture— similar to stone — can chill the room. If you use wood in your design, like in the sample above, the metal details can act to counterbalance the timber’s warmth.
13. Exposed Beam Ceiling
An exposed beam ceiling design (also called a “vaulted ceiling” or “pitched ceiling”) can automatically give your kitchen a dramatic flair. This type of design was more prevalent in ages past and can be found in cathedrals, old cabins, ski resorts, and barns.
The throwback will do the look of your kitchen a lot of good.
In this sample from Accent Truss, the supporting elements of the ceiling — all the beams and joists — are exposed.
Normally, these elements would be covered by plaster or drywall, which can limit the room’s perceived height. By leaving them open, the kitchen feels a lot larger and may even become imposing.
If you have a small kitchen, such a ceiling design is a great way to visually expand the space and make it feel larger than it really is.
14. Patterned Tiles
There’s no mandate that you must have a hardwood floor if you want a rustic kitchen. Tiles — especially the patterned sort — work at creating a pastoral feeling, too. They can be a great way to give your kitchen character, alongside all of the furniture and decor.
We absolutely adore the multi-colored marble floor in this design from Fedewa Custom Works. Although the material is obviously different from that of the cabinets and furniture, the floor’s warm coloring is in complete agreement with the rest of the room. Thus, the floor “just fits” without needing extra work.
15. Leverage the Innate Beauty of Cabinetry
The cabinet system is the largest, most visible component in your kitchen. As a result, its design will determine the look of your space. In certain cases, the cabinetry is the avenue through which your kitchen turns “rustic.”
Cabinets in a rustic kitchen are typically built from wood. Naturally, that will bring the material — its color and pattern — to the forefront, highlighting it in the eyes of visitors.
16. Open Shelves
Open shelves are quintessential features of rustic kitchens, especially when lined with pottery and your finest china.
Created by Crown Point Cabinetry, these open shelves made from reclaimed chestnut blend beautifully in with a chic rustic kitchen.
Their smaller size compared to enclosed cabinets mean they are much less imposing and can inspire a more open and welcoming air.
Plus, since they put their contents on display, they make for excellent pedestals on which to showcase china and wow guests. However, even plain mugs, dishes, or vases — like in the sample above — can turn your shelves into pretty beacons.
17. Add Texture with Rugs
Vintage rugs can be strong statement pieces in a rustic kitchen. The sight of a Tuscan rug can instantly give your space a more country-esque, old-world feel without the need of extra decorations.
But of course, the rug will stand out best when fitted into a kitchen with complementary design styling — usually those that lean toward traditionalism. In the right setting, the rug will embolden the room’s styling even further with its pattern and colors.
This mountain-style rustic kitchen design from Marie Meko is a great example of what a pretty rug can do for the kitchen’s overall atmosphere.
Though vintage rugs may seem better suited for traditional spaces, modern kitchens can visually benefit from them, too.
In this modern rustic kitchen design from Design Visions of Austin, the rug’s coloring complements the creamy tone of the floor. This helps the two blend together seamlessly without either element looking out of place. It’s a design trick worth keeping in mind if you’re going to add a rug to your kitchen.
18. Personalize with Photo Frames
Rustic isn’t just about styling or materials. It’s about people, too.
Remember, one of the greatest characteristics of rustic designs is that they bring all of the inhabitants closer together through warm, relaxing, and welcoming architecture. You can enhance this personable aura even further with personal trinkets like family photos.
Any guests in your kitchen will feel more connected to you as the host in such a personal, intimate setting. And among your family, of course, the photos will evoke fond memories.
19. 20th Century Retro
Occasionally, you may come by furniture that looks like it belongs in the mid-20th century. It’s an era filled with nostalgia for many — even for those who didn’t experience it first hand. Weaving these retro artifacts into a rustic kitchen can make for a very fascinating and unique look.
This design sample, courtesy of The Cousins, contains all the classic features. The all-wood cabinetry, wood floor, and bright neutral ceiling and walls are merged with retro-looking appliances decked out in vibrant turquoise.
20. Old-World Decors
Though excessive decorating is discouraged in rustic designs, a moderate amount is fine. As a matter of fact, if you can turn your decorations into functional pieces of the kitchen, it is even encouraged!
For example, instead of plastic bins, use wicker baskets to store your produce and other kitchen supplies. Put them somewhere visible like cubbies, doorless cabinets, and open shelves. Their classic look is a cheap (and aesthetically pleasing) throwback to the past.
What makes wicker baskets into such excellent decor is that they don’t just pretty up the room. The baskets serve an actual function, which is well in line with rustic style’s focus on functionality.
Another idea is to use wicker baskets as planters. You can fill them with culinary herbs like rosemary or thyme. Whenever you need, just pluck a few leaves to add straight to your dishes. The idea still maintains an excellent balance between functionality and style.
Warm and welcoming rustic designs touch the hearts of a great many homeowners. The style is popular enough that people spend hours sifting through ideas and consult with tried-and-true designers to give their space the look that they want.We hope this post on the best rustic kitchen ideas has given you ample inspiration to brainstorm the look of your future kitchen!
Matthew Lee is a writer and editor for HealthyKitchen101. With over 8 years working for various outlets and agencies, specializing in tech review and other subjects of note, such as current affairs.