Rustic Moderne – The Art of Rustication

The look of rustic in design has seen a more modern makeover thanks to Belgian architects such as Axel Vervoordt and Pieter Vandenhout.  We see rustic unlike the western log cabin or  French country interiors but more like a winterized trend with grey overtones, whitewashed and minimalistic decor.  Restoration Hardware has even overhauled their traditional furniture look to reflect this new rustic trend with its grey wood finish, linen upholstery, pared down furniture and a few overscaled accessories.

The first order of the day is to un-clutter. When the look is sparse, the walls take over. We see lots of integral plaster walls or scratch coat plaster walls.

The second step is to decide whether to use a cool grey or a warm grey palette. Warm grey seems to be more popular thanks to the warmth it brings into minimalistic spaces. Cool grey, on the other hand emphasizes the more modern aspect of a place.

Salvaged wood on floors, ceiling or on the furniture is a constant thread that immediately whisper “rustic” to the most muted decor palette. The wider the board the better.

The lack of accent color gives it an ephemeral feel.

Adding accent color is quite easy. One sees most colors working well with greige, especially when used sparingly.

A more difficult task is using dark wood finishes. Few can pull it off but when it happens, the space is surreal.

Textured variations, not color contrast is the answer in some cases.

Extreme contrast between stark modern items set against a rustic envelope makes the strongest statement while the more popular way is to house rustic woodsy items in pristine setting.

The oversized item: when I first set my foot in the revamped Restoration Hardware store, I was struck by their overscaled mirrors and first reacted  with thoughts of how hard it would be to use them.  As I dug more into this rustic trend, I found that changing the scale to something bigger works when the decor is quite muted and uncluttered. A big piece in the room can be quite sculptural with a strong presence.

I find myself getting stuck with what to call this trend. Sometimes, from lack of a better description, I have explained to clients that it’s the Restoration Hardware look. That was the easiest and most efficient way to conjure up the images of this new rustic look. I see other blogs calling it Modern Rustic or Rustic Modern. Maybe I’d settle for Rustic Moderne or simply Rustication.

Hmmm, I need a client who would embrace this look. Any takers?

Photos via: Axel Vervoordt, Pieter Vandenhout,,,,,,,,,,

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