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Rustic Kitchens: What Are They and What Makes Them So Amazing

What rustic kitchens look like in a log cabin

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If you’re someone that loves the outdoors and its natural beauty, and you feel drawn to spaces that pair rugged materials (like rough-hewn wood beams and stone) and comfy coziness, then rustic kitchens might just be perfect for you.

Whether you’re planning a kitchen remodel with the help of a kitchen designer, architect, or contractor, you need to make sure you figure out exactly which style is your favourite, because that kitchen won’t get another remodel so soon.

Keep reading to find out all the details and what makes rustic kitchens so amazing, including key elements, colour, fixtures and finishing touches!

What Does Rustic mean?

First, let’s look at what rustic even means…

According to the Oxford dictionary, it means “relating to the countryside; rural.” A quick google search will confirm it.

Just knowing the standard definition of the term should give you somewhat of a picture of what rustic means, but just to clear up that picture in your head, let’s go deeper than just a dictionary definition.

What is a Rustic Style Kitchen?

You’ve most likely heard “rustic” many times before when describing home décor, kitchen styles, or even home styles, but it can be hard to pin down the exact description of the style.

Whether you’re looking at a beautiful farmhouse or a remote cabin in the woods, how do you know what makes something rustic?

There are a few rustic elements and characteristics that are key in defining the rustic aesthetic clearly. The trained eye can spot it from a mile away.

You don’t necessarily need to live in a log cabin to have your home classified as rustic. All you need is to emphasize the natural and organic materials in the home to add an overall rustic aesthetic.

Most pieces that add a rustic flair to your design are made from real wood; sometimes they’re only lightly treated and sometimes entirely natural.

Think about reclaimed or rough-hewn wood, raw materials, and elements that come straight from the earth when thinking about a rustic kitchen.

So when it comes to rustic kitchens, the short definition would be that they have lots of wood, they look aged, and sometimes even look distressed.

The rustic style also feels completely humble and down to earth. It’s the kind of design that is incredibly welcoming and relaxed and should feel pleasant and easy.

The colour palette is also calming and traditional with natural and neutral colours and tones like beige, brown, grays, and whites, but goes for the warmer tints. Bold paint isn’t something that you would find in a rustic kitchen so keep it monochrome and muted.

Now that you have a general sense of what a rustic kitchen is, let’s go deeper into the design of the style.

What is Rustic Design?

As we just mentioned, the rustic design is a style that’s natural, organic, aged and even a little distressed.

Design styles like farmhouse, Tuscan, or coastal come to mind since a touch of rustic is within each of them.

Rustic kitchen with stone accents

Common Elements Found in Rustic Kitchens

Rustic kitchens are the complete opposite of modern and contemporary design kitchens. They are warm and welcoming, with a heavy emphasis on natural materials like stone and wood!

And while it’s true that the rustic style is inspired by the past, today’s definition of rustic can mix a little with contemporary depending on your personal taste in design.

Here are some commonly seen elements to look for in the rustic design:

  • Materials with a patina, such as copper, stone, and rough-hewn wood
  • Apron-front sink or “farmhouse sink”
  • Open shelving
  • Stainless steel appliances
  • Earthy, nature-inspired colour palette
  • Heavy, solid wood furniture
  • Butcher block, bamboo, granite, slate, soapstone, concrete or live edge countertops
  • Stone walls in parts of the home

What You Won’t Find in a Rustic Kitchen Design

Rustic mixes in well with a few different design styles and it gives them that homespun charm. Even when farmhouse or even contemporary elements are at play, the rustic kitchen keeps the overall feeling timeless and unpretentious.

Here are a few things you won’t find in rustic kitchens:

  • Bright colour palettes
  • Quick changing trends (like contemporary kitchen designs)
  • Highly polished finishes like chrome
  • Delicate décor and details
  • Lucite, moulded plastic, and other clearly manufactured materials

Common Colours and Nature-Inspired Hues in Rustic Design

As mentioned before, natural materials like stone, warm woods and paint accents with similar shades give off that cozy natural look and feel.

Some common colours and nature-inspired hues you’ll find in rustic kitchens include:

  • Some neutrals like buttermilk, cream, straw, wheat, and stone
  • Earth tones like chestnut, mushroom, umber, terra-cotta, and sepia
  • Spicy hues like cinnamon, saffron, pumpkin, chile pepper, and baked apple

Textured Stone You’ll See in Rustic Kitchens

Stone counters, floors and wall treatments bring a welcoming texture to a rustic kitchen. What you’re looking for is rich, earthy materials like granite, slate, fieldstone, travertine, and soapstone.

These stones go very well together with the natural woods used for rustic design. Speaking of natural woods…

Natural Wood is Essential in Rustic Design

You can’t call a kitchen “rustic” if it doesn’t have natural wood! It’s an essential part of rustic kitchens that adds character, warms up the cool stone hues and references the outdoors.

Look for rough-hewn wood beams, stained wood cabinetry, flooring, farm tables and accessories. There’s no such thing as too much wood in rustic.

Lastly, let’s go over some key features that really drive home the very definition of rustic.

What are the Key Features of Rustic Kitchens?

There are some very distinct features that really define what rustic is. So, let’s go over some key features that really drive home the very definition of rustic.

1. Heavy

Rustic is often described as heavy, and that’s because of the amount of wood and the darker hues. The furniture weighs a lot, so think about kitchen tables with large square legs. Also, one of the heaviest parts of the rustic design is the exposed beams holding up the ceiling.

2. Real Wood

From wide-planked wood floors to solid wood countertops, the rustic design really emphasizes wood and puts it at the forefront of the design itself.

Don’t be afraid to go with pieces that are a little weathered or beat up. The rustic design really makes the imperfect fit perfectly and it thrives on imperfection and grittiness.

3. Texture

Speaking of gritty and imperfect, since rustic décor uses mostly natural materials, expect a huge variety in textures.

Rough-cut wood with an obvious grain, raw stone fireplaces, stone slab backsplash, brick walls or other textured stone or wood countertops are common elements of rustic décor. The raw wood countertops sometimes even have some bark on them.

Being able to see and feel the texture is key in a rustic space so avoid anything with an obvious sheen.

4. Handmade

The centerpieces of the rustic kitchen are often hand-made and that’s what gives character to the rustic design. There are no pieces that are exactly the same, each and every one is unique and most likely the only piece like that in the world.

Now, the wood flooring might be prepared using machinery, as well as the natural wood cabinetry. But the live edge wood countertop, the ceiling beams, and other main pieces will definitely be handmade.

5. Beams

If your home is a farmhouse style or a Tuscan design home, and you have exposed wooden beams, then your home is screaming rustic design. Rustic beams are a must, so keep them that way if you can.

6. Statement Lighting

Oversized lanterns, industrial filament bulb lighting and huge pendant lighting all work well in a rustic kitchen.

The key to the right light fixtures is to look for materials with a bit of a natural patina like copper, reclaimed wood or wrought iron. And to push the ambiance to the limit, make sure you include a dimmer switch.

Lamps and lighting

7. Barn Door Hardware

Barn doors are not a historically used feature, but they add undeniable rustic appeal to the design. Take some wood panels, use barn door hardware to hang them, and replace them with a pantry door or even a closet door.

Look for a weathered finish like oil-rubbed bronze or black steel for an aged look.

8. Rustic Kitchen Cabinet Hardware

The hardware in a rustic kitchen will basically follow the same direction as the light fixtures. You’re looking for knobs and pulls with a bit of a natural patina like copper or wrought iron. A little worn look fits perfectly with the wooden cabinets.

If you’re looking for rustic kitchen ideas, this one is great and easy to implement.


9. Open Shelving

Open shelving is so popular in today’s kitchens that many think of it as a modern thing in kitchen designs. So, it’s easily confused with the fact that it’s actually one of the oldest storage methods.

One of the greatest rustic kitchen decorating ideas is to use natural wood for open shelves to display everyday essentials. Floating shelves bring more of a modern twist to them while visible brackets come across as more traditional.

10. Rustic Kitchen Countertops

Nothing matches the warmth and beauty of live edge countertops.

Live edge wood countertops give the kitchen a distinctly warm and welcoming feeling. They fit perfectly in rustic kitchens.

The rich colour tones, knots and complex wood grain patterns give it a special kind of warmth that will make you feel like your home is directly part of the forest and its natural beauty.

But live edge countertops aren’t the only ones you can use to add exceptional beauty to your kitchen to complete the look and feel of the kitchen.

Slate, soapstone, concrete, butcher block and granite countertops are often found in rustic kitchens.

Wooden accents and live-edge countertop


11. Stainless Steel Appliances

The appliances in a rustic kitchen are usually stainless steel. If they’re not, chances are the homeowner was short on budget and decided to put their money into the custom cabinetry instead of the appliances.

Final Thoughts

Rustic design can look great in any part of the home and can look especially great in the kitchen. It’s a loose term, and like all design styles, there’s a lot of variation within it.

The basic idea is the country lifestyle with large wood cabinets, warm colours and loads of wood, and weathered wood beams with some distress in the paint or hardware. Think old-fashioned and a homey feeling.

Some rustic kitchens share traits with farmhouse, Tuscan, or French country styles, while others hew close to the industrial design style. And while rustic kitchens fall under the traditional kitchen design category, they are unique and stand out in that they give off a casual, inviting feel.

We hope this short article helped you understand and give you a true picture of what truly makes something rustic.

Discover Your Dream Kitchen With Decor

Discover Your Dream Kitchen With Decor

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