Rustic design can look great in any part of the home, and it looks particularly great in the kitchen. After all, kitchens are warm, welcoming spaces—meant for preparing meals to share and enjoy together, and that’s really what rustic design is all about.
“I love the way rustic design can disarm people,” Alexis Garrett, interior designer at Alexis Garrett Design, says. “It can harken to a simpler time, help people slow down, and get fluff and stuffiness out of the way so relationships can flourish more freely.”
Garrett says that, for her, rustic design is about combining natural elements, like wood and stone, with weathered pieces that led many lives and have a lot of soul.
“I also love how rustic design often connects us with the natural world and people and ideas of the past—it helps keep memories alive, or even provokes new ones,” she says. “It can inspire us to live more simply and more closely with the world around us.”
This focus on relationships and community is a natural fit for the kitchen—a space that’s dedicated to preparing and sharing food together. And whether you’re looking to go all-in on rustic design or simply add a few rustic design elements to your otherwise modern space, there are plenty of rustic kitchens worth taking cues from—and we’ve rounded up 29 excellent examples below.
Meet the Expert
- Alexis Garrett is an interior designer at Alexis Garrett Design, a San Diego-based interior design firm.
- Karen B. Wolf is the principal designer at Karen B. Wolf Interiors, a New Jersey-based interior design firm.
- Nancy Charbonneau is the principal designer at Charbonneau Interiors, a Houston-based interior design firm.
- Stephanie Lindsey is the principal designer at Etch Design Group, an Austin-based interior design firm.
Commit to a Palette You Love
Choosing a palette doesn’t have to be the first step you take when designing a space. But, when you’re not sure where else to begin, it’s a pretty solid starting point. Spend some time thinking about what colors you can’t get enough of, and envision what they’d look like in your kitchen, or consider the materials you plan to use in your space, and imagine what colors might pair well with them.
Set the Tone With Wood Paneling
Wood makes a classic addition to any rustic interior—and there are tons of ways to use it in your kitchen. You can line your floors with wood or stock up on wooden cabinets. Or, you could even line your walls and ceilings with exposed wood beams.
Put Your Favorite Rustic Pieces on Display
If your kitchen is filled with pieces that are pretty enough to double as décor, put them on display. Line your shelves with your most eye-catching cups and dishes, and hang your prettiest pots and pans from a few hooks.
“Rustic design is utilitarian and can more easily incorporate functional elements,” Garrett says. Her recommendations for adding function to your space? “Open your shelving. Take your wooden spoons out of the drawer and put them in a crock on the counter so you can grab them and use them. Go to your local farmer’s market and buy some beautiful veggies, and arrange them on your counter in a way that invites you to eat them.”
Design From Ceiling to Floor
When many of us go to decorate a space, we start at eye level—that is the focal point of the room, after all. But, your ceilings and floors deserve a little love, too.
Consider lining your floors with wood or hanging wooden shelves from your ceiling. And if you really want to make a statement, you can always cover your floors with wood and line your ceiling to match, as shown above.
Invest in a Really Great Sink
Sinks are a necessity in any kitchen, but that doesn’t mean yours has to be boring. There are tons of statement-making sinks on offer, especially in the rustic design space. Consider investing in a splurge-worthy option, and let it become the centerpiece of your kitchen.
Learn to Love Wear and Tear
Usually, chipped paint is an aesthetic nightmare. When you’re crafting a rustic space, however, it’s actually a plus. Imperfections—like scratches, chips, and other forms of wear and tear—add personality to pieces of furniture, making them feel warmer and more worn-in.
These are the kinds of items you’d expect to see in a classic rustic kitchen, so consider welcoming them into your more contemporary rustic kitchen, too.
“Rustic means warm and time-worn,” Wolf says. Some of her favorite rustic design elements include live edges, historic materials, natural textiles, and pieces that have experienced a little wear and tear.
Go All in on Wood
Nothing says “rustic” like a bunch of wood. If you love the stuff, go all in. Springing for hardwood floors is a popular choice, but you can take a less traditional approach and line your walls with wood paneling, instead.
Make the Most of a Cozy Space
Small spaces can be tough to navigate, but since rustic design is all about warmth and coziness, small spaces can actually be an asset. Take a look at the space you’re working with, and look for places where you can maximize efficiency.
Can you tuck a countertop under a slanted ceiling, or work a few cabinets into the mix? Focus less on creating a kitchen that looks conventional, and focus more on making space for the things you genuinely need.
Line Your Walls With Texture
Many kitchens are lined with crisp, white walls. But, when you’re crafting a rustic space, you may want to spring for something more textured. Wood is an obvious option, and if you’d prefer to do something a little less traditional, you can line your walls with textured—almost uneven—tiles, instead.
Stock Up on Everything You Need
One of the most beautiful things about rustic spaces is that they feel genuinely lived in, so don’t worry about making your kitchen look pristinely neat and tidy and focus on practicality, instead.
If there are cooking tools you use every day, feel free to leave them out on your countertop. You can always use jars to keep your utensils organized, and you can prop your pans against the wall to free up space.
Have Fun With Wallpaper
Rustic interiors are all about warmth and tradition, so it should come as no surprise that wallpaper looks great in them. Floral wallpaper can make a classic addition to any rustic kitchen, and if you’d prefer something that feels a little more modern, look for a simplified print with just two colors.
Pair Classic and Contemporary
There are tons of different ways to craft a rustic kitchen: don’t worry about living up to someone else’s idea of what a rustic kitchen should look like, and focus instead on doing exactly what you want.
If you’re dreaming of a space that feels both classic and contemporary, look for ways to mix and match the two aesthetics. Pair live-edge wood countertops with industrial pendant lights—and throw in a few sleek wooden barstools for good measure.
“It's okay if not every single element in your space is rustic,” Charbonneau says. “A beautifully designed home is always balanced. And oftentimes, that balance occurs between the lines of styles.”
Let Your Shelves Make a Statement
When most of us add shelves to a room, we’re thinking about function—but there’s no reason your shelves can’t be practical and pretty. By stocking up on reclaimed wood shelves, you can maximize your storage set-up while introducing a few new statement-making accents to your space.
Pay Homage Without Going All In
Designing a rustic kitchen doesn’t have to mean creating a picture-perfect representation. Instead, you can take inspiration from rustic design, paying homage to it without copying it entirely.
This can mean lining your floors with hardwoods, using reclaimed wood shelves, or stocking up on rustic-looking kitchen utensils. It can also mean incorporating a few rustic fixtures—like an antique faucet or a farmhouse sink—into your space.
A pop of rustic décor can go a long way. Bring in rustic elements you feel drawn to, and pair them with contrasting pieces. “A small taste of a rustic material is enough to help set the tone,” Wolf says. She recommends mixing and matching your materials—and springing for quality craftsmanship wherever you can.
Play With Texture
Rustic spaces are filled with texture. While wood is a very popular way to bring texture into your space, it’s not the only option on offer. You can stock up on metal pendant lights, copper pots, and antique hardware. Even marble countertops, metallic picture frames, and sleekly painted cabinets can make their way into the mix.
“Rustic style involves a combination of materials, including wood and metal,” Lindsey says. She recommends using weathered steel accents to balance out wood-filled spaces and using natural wooden accents to balance out crisper, cleaner rooms. “Adding steel window trim, rustic beams, natural stone counters, or antiques can make any area more rustic in style,” she says.
Mix and Match Your Favorite Finds
Many décor schemes are about paring down items, streamlining, or going all out and maximalizing. Since rustic design isn’t really about minimalism or maximalism, you can focus on snagging pieces you love—and let the décor come together from there.
This may mean mixing and matching cabinets and countertops—or hanging a couple of pendant lights you scored at a local flea market.
Think Outside the Box
Rustic spaces may feel traditional, but that doesn’t mean you have to make traditional decisions while outfitting one. Line your walls with wood paneling and spring for a bold blue backsplash. Invest in accents you’ll love looking at, and you’ll end up with a space you’ll want to spend time in.
Choose Your Fixtures Thoughtfully
Lighting fixtures put the finishing touches on any space, and they can be a great way to add contrast or cohesion, depending on what your space needs.
If your kitchen is skewing contemporary and you want it to feel a little more rustic, consider springing for some classic farmhouse lights. If you’ve gone all-in on rustic design and could use a change of pace, take a risk on something more industrial, instead.
Work With What You Have
If you’re not starting from square one, take a look at the space you already have and the furniture and décor you already own. What do the cabinets, countertops, and floors look like in your space? And what kitchen items have you already stocked up on?
A sleek lamp and printed rug may feel like odd picks for a rustic kitchen, but by pairing them with wooden utensils, copper pots, and antique fixtures, there is space for them in your newly outfitted kitchen.
Embrace the Imperfect
Many décor schemes prioritize clean lines and crisp colors, but rustic design takes a much more casual approach, making space for nature’s curves and imperfections. To complement your sleek shelves and countertops, add a few organic pieces crafted from naturally occurring materials like wood and stone.
“I love to incorporate textural elements, removing anything that's not of the earth or earth-adjacent,” Charbonneau says. “In achieving this ‘rustic’ balance, it's important to incorporate all of these different elements that pay homage to natural beauty, whether they be distressed, weathered, or a little vintage.”
She adds that distressed wood pieces and weathered family heirlooms can make great additions to a rustic space.
Keep It Simple
Don’t be afraid to keep your décor scheme simple. Yes, rustic design is very different from minimalism, but it’s very different from maximalism, too, so don’t clutter your countertops just to fill them with décor. Focus on investing in pieces that you genuinely love, and the warm, welcoming space you’re hoping to curate will come together.
Don’t Be Afraid to Go Light
When many of us envision rustic kitchens, we imagine darker, earthier colors—like mauve, brown, and olive green. Those aren’t your only choices, though. If you’ve always dreamt of having a white, light-filled kitchen, go for it.
You can always use pastoral paintings and wooden utensils to ground your space in rustic charm, and the same holds true in reverse. If you’d prefer darker, moodier shades, fill your kitchen with them and balance them out with a few more classically rustic pieces.
Spend Time Finding Those Perfect Pieces
There are plenty of rustic pieces you can find in stores, but some of those really special statement-makers come from off-the-beaten-path places, like flea markets and yard sales. It can be tempting to stock up on everything you need all at once, but take your time looking for standout pieces and make room for them in your space once you do.
Let Your Hardware in on the Fun
Big-ticket items, like cabinets and countertops, can make an impact in any space. Smaller necessities—like drawer pulls, sink faucets, and lighting fixtures—deserve just as much love and addition, though. A little antique hardware can make a bold, contemporary space feel a little more rustic—and a lot more dynamic.
Use Art to Bring Your Space Together
Art may seem like an odd pick for the kitchen. The truth is, there’s usually room for it, and if you have the space to spare, it can really bring your design together.
Consider investing in a couple of rustic-looking paintings or a few pastoral photographs, and display them in your space. You can hang them on your walls or prop them up on your countertops—just make sure to snag a few picture frames that feel as rustic as the rest of your kitchen.
Take a Few Risks
The cool thing about outfitting a space from top to bottom? You get to do exactly what you want to do. Take advantage of the opportunity, and make a few bold choices.
Odds are, you’re not going to move into a space that has the exact textured backsplash you’ve always wanted, so now’s the perfect time to try it—take the risk. Even in the worst-case scenario where it doesn’t look quite the way you thought it would, you can always backtrack and try something else instead.
Balance Function and Form
The best kitchens aren’t just pretty—they also feel genuinely great to cook and eat in. Work to find a balance between function and form.
If there’s a cutting board you always reach for or a cookbook you always reference, leave them out on your countertop. At the very least, they’ll leave your space feeling homier and more functional—and if they’re pretty, they might even leave it looking cuter.
“Whatever your style, focus on making spaces that are meaningful to you and the people you love,” Garrett says. “Arrange your space and your life in ways that enable closer connections between you, your loved ones, and the natural world. You won’t ever be disappointed by that.”
Stay True to You
Redecorating a kitchen can be a lot of work—but the thing that makes it worth it is the final product: a kitchen that feels uniquely yours. Look for places to stay true to yourself along the way.
If there’s a color you’re not particularly into or a trend you can’t get behind, let them fall by the wayside, even if it means making a more unconventional design choice.
“With any design, you should always make things relevant to how you live and your family's story," Charbonneau says. "And sometimes, you can go overboard with ‘trends’ or focusing so deeply on one specific style. Instead, use the term ‘rustic’ to guide you—not box you in.”
Finish Things Off With Flowers
Flowers make a lovely addition to any space, and they look particularly great in rustic homes. Pick a few wildflowers from your garden—or snag a bouquet from the grocery store—and store them in a cute rustic vase.
Mason jars have long been a popular option, but just about any vase you love should put the metaphorical cherry on top of your space.