What exactly is modern rustic style? Designers who love the look explain this timeless trend

Balancing rustic charm with a contemporary twist, modern rustic is a timeless style

What is modern rustic style?
(Image credit: Future)

While some interior design trends can be short-lived, others on the other hand are far more timeless. Modern rustic certainly falls into the latter category, a popular style that's incredibly liveable and easy to recreate.

But what exactly is modern rustic? You've probably heard of the term before, but modern rustic actually relates to a specific look that's all about balancing farmhouse rustic decor with a more sleek, modern twist. 

Taking reference from rustic decor's natural materials and organic colors, this interior design trend balances traditional elements with sleek silhouettes for a more modern look – perfect if you love the cozy feel of rustic decor but don't want your home to look outdated. 

'The modern rustic decor trend has taken the interior design world by storm, offering a captivating blend of contemporary elegance and timeless warmth,' says Niko Rasides, design director at Nicholas Anthony. 'This style effortlessly marries the rugged charm of rustic aesthetics with the sleek lines and modern conveniences of today's design sensibilities.'

How can you create a modern rustic home?

'By carefully integrating natural materials, neutral color palettes, a mix of textures, and the right balance of modern and rustic furniture, you can create a space that feels both timeless and on-trend. Embrace the warmth and simplicity of modern rustic design to transform your home into a haven that exudes comfort and style,' continues Niko Rasides. 

'Think crisp and clean but not remotely clinical,' adds interior designer Naomi Astley Clarke. 'A scheme with timber floors, a plush, deep pile rug, and billowy linen curtains, broken up by mid-century wood furniture.'

Below, we've rounded up five ideas from interior designers that will help you achieve the modern rustic look in your home.

1. Incorporate natural wood

Small white living room with corner couch and wall panelling

(Image credit: Future)

'One of the key elements of modern rustic decors is the use of natural materials,' says Niko Rasides. 'By embracing the beauty of natural materials like reclaimed wood, stone, and metals into furniture, flooring, and decor items you can add texture and authenticity to your space. Create open shelving using reclaimed wood or metal brackets to display cherished items. This not only adds a rustic touch but also allows you to showcase personal mementos or decorative pieces.'

While you may think that dark wooden furniture can appear dated, Naomi Astley Clarke says these pieces can look stylish with the right lighting ideas: 'When it comes to traditional, more rustic furniture we often think of dark wood – which some still shy away from, worried it might make their home feel dark and dated. By including these items in the brightest parts of your home, the look is grounded while remaining modern and airy. For example, an antique oak side table or bench beautifully contrasts the lightness of an entryway with white walls.'

2. Layer textiles

modern rustic living room with fire and neutral sofa with cushions

(Image credit: Future, Jon Day Photography)

To achieve the modern rustic look, adding lots of cozy textiles to your home is a key step. Rustic and farmhouse decor can sometimes have a slightly outdoorsy feel, so you will want to ensure your home remains warm and inviting by adding lots of throws, pillows, and rugs that tie into your decor. 

'Layering various textures can also help to add depth and visual interest. Infuse your space with the softness of natural fabrics like linen, wool, and cotton by adding cozy throws, plush cushions, or even a rustic area rug to enhance the warmth of the room.' says Niko Rasides. 

3. Opt for muted colors

Modern rustic bathroom with dark green tiles

(Image credit: Future/Kasia Fiszer)

'Neutral earthy color palettes inspired by nature such as warm greys, muted greens, and soft browns create a calming and inviting atmosphere,' says Niko Rasides. 'White and cream can be used as base colors to enhance the modern feel. Layer this base with nature-inspired decor.'

Naomi Astley Clarke adds that color trends can be used to create the right balance between rustic and modern: 'The key to mixing rustic items into your home is to only employ as much as your space can handle and to balance it out with thoughtful color combinations. You can’t go wrong with pairing wood furniture and light blue textiles as the warmth of the brown harmonizes with the coolness of the pale fabric.'

naomi astley clarke headshot
Naomi Astley Clarke

Named as one of Andrew Martin Top 100 in the World 2022, Naomi is a highly experienced interior design practice with expertise in the sympathetic renovation and refurbishment of residential and commercial properties. Naomi has worked in the industry for over 25 years and is now one of the most sought-after designers with a client base that includes world-famous movie stars, producers, music moguls, professionals, and entrepreneurs. 

4. Add sleek furniture and decor

Modern rustic dining room with yellow cabinets

(Image credit: Future/Kasia Fiszer)

To capture the modern feel of this interior design style, it's important to incorporate some more modern elements that will promote a sleek look, ensuring the space doesn't look solely rustic. 

'Choose modern furniture with clean lines but incorporate rustic touches such as distressed finishes or raw edges,' explains Niko Rasides. 'A contemporary sofa paired with a reclaimed wood coffee table, for instance, embodies the essence of modern rustic design. Whereas a sleek sectional sofa with vintage leather chairs or a contemporary dining table with weathered wooden benches can strike the balance between modern and rustic.'

5. Decorate with rustic details

A rustic style kitchen, with plants on the window sill, knifes hanging on the wall, and a woven basket on the counter

(Image credit: Getty Images)

Adding smaller decorative items that feel rustic is another way of capturing this trend, which works well if your home already follows a more modern style, such as the rustic kitchen details shown above. 'Incorporate potted plants, floral arrangements, or rustic pottery to connect with the natural world and add a touch of organic beauty,' says Niko Rasides. 

Interior designer Bethany Adams also agrees with this approach, adding: 'A modern rustic style embraces simple forms and materials in their original states to achieve a look that is luxurious, without being fussy or fancy. Try bringing the look in with accessories like live-edge wood bowls, chunky knitted blankets, and thick weave linen curtains.'

Bethany Adams
Bethany Adams

Bethany Adams has over 15 years of experience designing and project-managing high-end residential projects all over the US. She started her design firm in Louisville in 2015 and before worked for several designers and architects over the course of a ten-year career in Chicago.

Lastly, Naomi Astley Clarke recommends using plants to complete your modern rustic decor, and mixed metals to enhance the modern side of this trend. 'Tall indoor plants in oversized vintage urns bring lush height and depth to the space. And if you’re after a more luxe look, incorporate some mixed metal details and marble finishes.'

Modern rustic is certainly a timeless trend that remains a classic in the world of interior design. Striking the perfect balance between old-school rustic and contemporary living, this liveable design style is sure to remain a popular style in 2024. 

Paint & Color Editor

Emily is H&G's Paint & Color Editor, covering all things color across interior design and home decor. She joined the team in the summer of 2023, having studied Fashion Communication at university before working in various creative roles ahead of making the leap into interiors. She lives in Glasgow where she loves admiring the city's architecture, frequenting her favorite coffee spots, and sourcing vintage furniture for her tenement apartment. Emily's interior style is inspired by the simplicity of midcentury design, mixed with more playful modern pieces that inject small (but bold) doses of color.