How can you decorate the walls in a modern rustic kitchen? 7 ideas to blend chic and charming

Kitchen walls feeling a little sparse? Adopt these modern rustic kitchen wall decor ideas to add some lived-in charm to the heart of your home

modern rustic kitchen wall decor ideas
(Image credit: Jessica Jubelirer / Photography Douglas Friedman / deVOL Kitchens / Studio Atkinson)

If you're searching for inspiration to give your modern rustic kitchen walls a little lift, then look no further. From an electric mix of wall coverings to curated collections of art, plates, and decorative objects, your kitchen walls are a space for style and storage.

As a practical room dedicated not only to cooking but also to dining, hosting, and socializing, the kitchen is often overlooked when it comes to wall decor ideas. But as our homes and lives evolve, so does the kitchen. Transforming from a utilitarian room to become the unofficial heart of your home, the kitchen deserves the same (if not more) care and attention as the other rooms in your home. And no kitchen takes a smattering of characterful styling than a modern rustic kitchen.

We've gathered an array of stylish modern rustic kitchen wall decor ideas and handy expert tips from interior designers to help you put the cherry on top of your kitchen design.

 Modern rustic kitchen wall decor ideas 

If you've recently designed a modern rustic kitchen, right down to the perfect modern rustic kitchen color scheme and avoided all the modern rustic kitchen design mistakes, you might now be wondering what should I put on my kitchen walls? Thankfully, this is where we come in.

The key to nailing kitchen wall decor, no matter your interior design style, is to always take the surroundings into consideration. Think about your kitchen cabinets, backsplash, flooring, or any furnishings in the space, and choose decor that complements rather than clashes.

'To make modern rustic wall decor work successfully, a lot of it comes down to what it is paired with,' advises Grazzie Wilson, head of creative at Ca’ Pietra. 'Wall coverings as a standalone can fail to do the job intended if the rest of the room doesn’t live up to the same expectations or have the same design brief. By that, I mean don’t look at just your wallcoverings in isolation but consider flooring, fabrics, furnishings, or perhaps kitchen items,' she explains.

For a modern rustic kitchen, your wall decor can come from a veritable feast of decor choices, from paneling to peg racks and everything in between. Here are a few of our favorite ideas.

1. Include a mix of wall materials such as tile and paneling

A kitchen with light blue backsplash and white countertops

(Image credit: Kaitlin Green / Emily Henderson Design)

Sometimes kitchen walls can appear a little bare, even with a tiled backsplash in place. Consider adding a mix of materials with a combo of tile, paneling, wallpaper, or two-tone paint to bring in a layer of texture and depth to the space and work as your backdrop for further décor.

'When considering your modern rustic wall decor, don’t be scared to use two different materials, for example, tiles and wallpaper, or tiles and shiplap,' says Grazzie Wilson. 'It might be that one element, such as wallpaper or paneling adds the rustic element, while the modern aesthetic is injected with tiles.' 

'If you do decide to go down this route, to avoid a clash, one way of ensuring the two mediums work is to stick to the same color palette and hue,' advises Grazzie. 

In designer Emily Henderson's own kitchen, she chose to mix denim-blue tiles with wide, horizontal wall paneling as a backdrop to her modern rustic styling.

A headshot of Grazzie Wilson from Ca'Pietra
Grazzie Wilson

Grazzie Wilson is head of creative at Ca'Pietra, a luxury stone and tile brand based in the UK.

2. Source some vintage wall art

modern rustic small kitchen with vintage wall art

(Image credit: Mylands)

Of course, hanging some wall art is a super quick and easy addition to your kitchen walls that can provide an instant boost. For the modern rustic kitchen, however, spending a little time to source vintage pieces will add a certain level of charm that only decorating with vintage can provide. 

'I love the idea of leaning into the “rustic” part with wall art and textiles,' says Emily Henderson. 'Think a beautiful vintage wood frame mirror, an awesome vintage oil painting, or cool black and white photos. I think vintage is an important element to really nailing this style,' she adds.

Kathy Kuo agrees. 'Infuse a sense of modern rusticity into your wall decor by choosing frames made from materials like reclaimed wood and weathered metals,' she advises. 'When selecting art and photos for your frames, try to stick with warm earth tones and add a few pastoral scenes if you can. You can also add a wall mirror with antiqued glass for a very cool, old-fashioned look.'

Emily Henderson
Emily Henderson

Emily Henderson is Emily Henderson is a stylist, interior designer, HGTV host, and founder of Emily Henderson Design which she's been running for over a decade. Emily provides us with style inspiration every day over on her Instagram, and her blog is a great source of ideas for DIYs and making the most of your space. 

3. Hang a plate wall

plate and art gallery wall in modern rustic kitchen dining area

(Image credit: Neptune)

If you're fortunate enough to have an expanse of empty wall space – perhaps you've got an in-kitchen dining nook or have ditched your wall cabinets entirely – a kitchen-inspired gallery wall might be just what your kitchen needs.

While hanging plates on walls may sound a little too twee, the trend is making a comeback and is a great gallery wall alternative that feels more at home in a kitchen space than just artwork. 

As seen above, in a dining area designed by Neptune, consider an eclectic mix of plates (both vintage and new for that modern rustic balance) with art, prints, and mirrors. The result will add softness and charm to an otherwise functional space. 

4. Add open-shelving for ever-evolving style

deVOL kitchens exposed brick opening shelving gallery wall

(Image credit: deVOL Kitchens)

There's no reason that your favorite crockery, glassware, and trinkets can't serve as wall decor, too. Opting for open shelving made from raw, rustic materials and modern metal brackets is a hallmark of a modern rustic kitchen.

In this kitchen above, created and styled by deVOL Kitchens, they chose to hang wooden kitchen shelving on an exposed brick wall for that perfect balance of modern meets rustic. 

The beauty of this design choice is it not only creates a sense of openness in your kitchen but provides a space for you to style collected objects and art and provides plenty of ever-changeable wall decor possibilities. 

5. Choose accent or all-over wallpaper

floral wallpaper in a modern rustic kitchen dining area

(Image credit: Jessica Jubelirer / Photography Douglas Friedman / Styling Mieke ten Have)

Hanging wallpaper in a kitchen is an unexpected yet incredibly on-trend way to add texture and pattern to the space. When installed in the right way, kitchen wallpaper ideas afford your kitchen the same design opportunities as your living room or dining room. 

'Choosing an artful wallpaper that incorporates florals or natural elements allows you to bring nature into modern spaces,' says designer Jessica Jubelirer. 'For a client’s highly functional mudroom [seen above] that houses machinery and equipment, I collaborated with Fromental to design a custom hand-painted wallpaper that features the native species found on this home’s property. By incorporating a paper that utilizes the natural world as a motif, it provides a lovely backdrop to this functional space,' she adds. 

'It’s so charming and offers a guide for the design, narrowing down paint selections and stylistic choices,' agrees Monica Stewart of The Misfit House. 'If one is concerned about performance, there are so many beautiful vinyl papers to choose from,' she advises.

Jessica Jubelirer
Jessica Jubelirer

Jessica leads a team of designers at her firm, Jessica Jubelirer Design, working on commercial and residential properties with American modern influence.

6. Consider a peg rack or hanging rail

devol kitchens modern rustic kitchen with peg rack for hanging decor

(Image credit: deVOL Kitchens)

Shaker-style peg rails are becoming increasingly more popular in kitchens for their ability to add organization to a space by getting things up off the floor and displayed in an orderly fashion. 

A key feature in a deVOL kitchen, as seen above, a peg board, rack, or metal hanging rail with hooks can be used to hold cutting boards, aprons, brooms, and even small chairs. In a small modern rustic kitchen, floor and countertop space is usually limited so use your walls as both a place for storage and decor. 

If you have a central island, consider investing in a pot hanging rack that suspends from the ceiling to hang copper pots for a rustic, English kitchen idea. 'To keep in line with the rustic theme, opt for the typical items you’d find in a kitchen,' explains Jennifer Chipman, co-founder of ASID. 'Decorate with functionality. Copper pieces are great to achieve this look, such as mugs, kitchen utensils, and such help tie the space together and the addition of mixed metals in decor creates a rustic vibe,' she adds.

7. Install wall sconces

modern rustic kitchen with large tiled area and vintage wall sconces

(Image credit: ARCIFORM kitchen by Emily Henderson / Photography Sara Ligorria-Tramp)

Kitchen lighting is more often than not completely functional, rather than beautiful. Typically reserved to just ceiling spotlights and under-cabinet lighting, the very best kitchens include a mix of task, mood, and feature lighting to create the perfect ambiance.

If your cabinetry is more on the rustic side, like this ARCIFORM kitchen by Emily Henderson above, look to integrate minimalist wall lighting fixtures to balance out the rural charm of wooden cupboards or features like ceiling beams. Alternatively, if you have a sleek, modern kitchen consider more organic materials and shapes like rattan or pine sconces – or shop vintage.

Perfect for mounting either side of a range hood, a pair of sconces on extendable arms can help to light countertops or open shelving below.

If your counter space is limited, turn to the walls of your modern rustic kitchen to bring in character and style. Able to elevate even the most basic of kitchens, the decor is the true shining star of any well-designed kitchen – just ask the experts. Whether you choose to illuminate your space with statement sconces, turn to open shelving for an abundance of design opportunities, or incorporate the simple allure of artwork, a modern rustic kitchen is best accessorized with pieces that tell a story.

Charlotte Olby
Style & Trends Editor

Charlotte is style and trends editor at Homes and Gardens, and has been with the team since Christmas 2023. Following a 5 year career in Fashion, she has worked at many women's glossy magazines including Grazia, Stylist, and Hello and most recently worked as Interiors Editor for British heritage department store Liberty. Her role at H&G fuses her love of style with her passion for interior design, and she is currently undergoing her second home renovation in Surrey - you can follow her journey over on @olbyhome