Rustic design isn’t just for log cabins and cozy bed-and-breakfasts nestled in the mountains. As Washington Post reporter Michele Lerner noted in an article published earlier this year, a blend of rustic elements, such as reclaimed wood, and modern technology is a popular interior design trend. The combination of rustic and modern is a trend associated with millennials, who want both modern function and artistic individuality. The rustic style, with its exposed timber beams and unique metal characteristics, lends itself well to the artisan qualities homeowners want in a space.

“[The rustic style] hearkens to not only what you want in architecture, but what you want out of life,” Kyle Tage, AIA and partner at Locati Architects, says. “Everyone wants a piece of the great west and to have land they can stretch out on. They want to breathe clean air.”

Though rustic spaces often conjure images of spaces overly adorned in antlers, furs, and Davy Crockett’s raccoon hat, that (thankfully) isn’t the case with rustic design.

Image courtesy of Locati Architects
Vance Fox Image courtesy of Locati Architects

“Rustic implies a little bit simpler material palette and simpler execution of that palette within the architecture,” Tage says. “Much of it is based in a history of functional use of material as opposed to ornamental use of material.”

Today, similar to the historical rustic-style building, some of the main materials for rustic design are timber, stone, and “hand-forged” metalwork, Tage says. The need for craftsmanship is as important today as it was back then.

“It’s the finest craftsmen that work in the rustic material palette because to make rustic work well, it has to be executed perfectly. That’s why you have to have the highest level of craft,” Tage says. “There’s no painting or caulking to cover up authentic timber or a stone fireplace.”

Image courtesy of Locati Architects
Image courtesy of Locati Architects

How can you avoid mistakes you won’t be able to hide? Tage recommends brushing up on your history before tackling a rustic project: “Look at the history books and look at some of the early structures that defined our country, especially as we moved west.”

The simplicity of rustic design lends itself well to being blended with other design styles, which could be one reason why millennials pair it with their modern amenities. “I think it’s a really nice backdrop for almost any interior design,” Tage says, “just because it’s, in my opinion, a very timeless design style.” He also suggests diversifying the interior by bringing in elegant items, such as a sofa, to offset a space with “heavy timber elements.”