The Modern Rustic aesthetic is my all-time favorite design style. Its warm, natural and inviting, yet also clean and simple. Also know as ‘rustic modern’, this design style became recognized at some point in the 20th century. The earliest book I could find describing this aesthetic was written in 2000 by Ali Hanan: “Modern Rustic: Natural Ideas for a Contemporary Lifestyle”. Hanan describes the style as “a natural, rural lifestyle” ideal for those looking to “improve their quality of life by adopting a country lifestyle.” As the style combines both the pleasing and clean-ness associated with the Modern aesthetic, and the character and warmth of the Rustic aesthetic, Modern Rustic style has become very popular.
The Modern Rustic aesthetic is usually seen implemented in rooms, although it can also be seen in individual pieces of furniture. The major components of this aesthetic are obvious, just look at a couple of images and you’ll get the idea. First, notice the textures. Exposed wood and stone or brick add the ‘character’ and sometimes the appearance of warmth of the aesthetic. These textures are typical of old hand built country homes, as stone and wood were readily available building materials. Woolen objects, such as rugs and blankets can also be used to add warm texture to the room. Modern Rustic rooms also contain many smooth textures, such as those of the counter and chair surface, and cabinetry seen in the image above. It is these textures that provide the clean and modern feel.
The materials used in Modern Rustic design are closely tied to texture, such those of wood, stone, brick, and wool. Any of these materials can be rough or smooth, and used as either rustic or modern elements. Metal is the same way. Shiny metal table or chair legs and light fixtures can add sleek modern elements. Cast iron cookware and light fixtures add rustic elements. The table shown above is beautifully simple and a perfect example of a Modern Rustic piece. It’s wood surface is smooth, but also contains flaws, making it look weathered. The metal legs are angled differently to add interest, yet are sleek and functional.
Next, look for color. There isn’t a lot of it, at least not many bright explosions of color. There are a lot of shades of brown and gray, white and black. Any bright objects, such as the red side table in the image above are on the modern side of the aesthetic. The browns and grays are colors associated with natural elements, like wood, stone, dry wheat, dirt and mud. White is a color I usually think about in the context on modern design, as it is clean and simple. Black can be both modern and rustic, as some wood is very dark, and materials such as wool can be dyed black. Black is also a common color used in modern design as a statement.
Shape and architecture are also important to notice. Natural elements like stones and wood tend to be rough and (or) asymmetrical in their natural forms. Modern rustic designs combine some these natural shapes, such as tree branches, antlers and river stones with well defined shapes such as rectangles, spheres, and sharp angles. Modern Rustic architecture is anything but dull. High cathedral ceilings, prominent stairs, huge beams, and fireplaces can be seen in several of the images here. These elements either fit effortlessly into the rooms, such as the fireplaces and high ceilings, or break up the room and draw attention, like the beams and staircases.
The last feature I will mention is functionality. While it is plain that this aesthetic has many decorative elements, each one is also functional. There is little to no component of these rooms that does not serve a purpose. Fireplaces provide warmth, beams hold up the structures, stone forms the walls, the furniture is inviting and comfortable (hopefully).
All in all, Modern Rustic design is a beautiful, warm, simple aesthetic that brings nature and the contemporary together.
For more images and information on the Modern Rustic Design Aesthetic, be sure to check out the following sources: