Three Rustic Furniture Designs to Try Today

Incorporating rustic furniture designs into your home is easier than you may realize. If you find yourself wondering what is rustic furniture exactly, you can condense the definition into one word: nature. Bringing the outdoors inside is at the core of most rustic furniture ideas, but you don't have to follow all the rules. Shabby chic, country-western, and farmhouse looks start with a base of distressed wood and wrought iron, and then it's up to you to inject your tastes and personality to develop a unique style that can be decidedly feminine or masculine—or somewhere in between.

Consider This Before Shopping

Before you start picking out rustic-style furniture, decide what sort of style you want to create in your home. No one style is right or wrong, and you don't have to stick to one design —feel free to mix and match to create the look you want.

Do you prefer bright whites and mixing pieces from thrift store finds? Shabby chic might be your ideal style.

A country-western style is popular and includes a variety of elements, from unfinished rustic furniture designs to tree-trunk accessories. If you love log cabins, this could be your favorite decor.

Clean lines, crisp whites, and rustic furniture combine to create a farmhouse style. This is a middle-of-the-road style that works well if you love a cozy look that doesn't include a lot of unfinished or distressed pieces.

Once you decide which style you prefer for your space, determine whether you want to implement rustic-style furniture subtly or go all-out with the design. If you'd prefer to add just a few elements, pick out a key piece or two that will help define your look, and then fill in the space with other essentials to meet your needs. In the living room, you might choose rustic living room storage furniture like media stands, cabinets, and bookcases as your stand-out pieces, while the bedroom is the perfect spot for a cedar log bed and matching nightstands.

Defining Rustic for You

Shabby chic, country-western, and farmhouse are all variations of rustic-style furniture. While they have their similarities, there are also subtle differences that give them each their own unique look and feel.

StyleDefining CharacteristicsSimpleDistressedFeminineMasculineRural
Shabby chicVintage, distressed, feminine, soft pastels, cottage style, antique
Country-westernRural, farm, simple, masculine, earth tones, rawxxxx
FarmhouseFinished wood, whites, clean, simple, fadedxxxx

Let's look at the three most popular subsets of rustic furniture ideas, which should help you on your way to making your home the ideal blend of cozy, comfortable, and chic.

Shabby Chic: Rustic Goes Feminine

Shabby chic was born out of collecting vintage pieces and pairing them with similar but mismatched rustic furniture to create a lived-in, comfortable space. You may also see this style referred to as cottage.

Choosing distressed rustic furniture can help define your style and get you away from a cookie-cutter design. Distressed furniture softens a room, which helps lend a bit of romance to it. When decorating, look for end tables in different styles but the same color; you want a mix-and-match look for this rustic furniture design.

If you find a piece of rustic furniture that's just a little too polished for your tastes, you can modify it to make it better fit with your theme. A bit of sandpaper and elbow grease can get you that lived-in look you want—even when dealing with metal. Add accessories, such as pastel-hued wooden picture frames, with a couple of ornately-designed metal ones to achieve the perfect contrast.

Country-Western: A True Rustic Style

To create a decidedly country feel in your home, stick with warm earth tones and bring a lot of nature-inspired design inside. Consider shopping for log-cabin-like rustic wooden furniture that's unfinished or that at least shows the knots of the wood.

Country decor is all about wood. In the living room, go for a large wooden table that acts as a solid anchor for the space. It can be polished and lacquered or unfinished and raw.

Although this look is more traditionally masculine, it can include softer, feminine rustic-style furniture as well. Try mixing a little bit of shabby chic with raw materials to up the romantic look a bit. For example, you could buy adjustable-shelf rustic furniture like a wood and metal storage cabinet, and place a milk bottle vase of flowers on top.

Farmhouse: A Rustic Happy Medium

You can go rustic and still keep things clean, bright, and orderly. Although many of these styles include distressed pieces and raw materials, farmhouse decor allows you to go with all-white furniture and punctuate with smaller, less pronounced elements.

For example, a wooden farmhouse barn door bookcase easily fits in with shabby chic (it's made to look recycled or reclaimed), country-western (it's a barn door), or farmhouse (again, it's a barn door!), but your style will determine how it works in your room. You can display some milky white glass, books, or a vase with flowers to soften its look.

Don't forget to pick up pieces that include raw, natural materials, such as burlap, rope, or twine to drive home the farmhouse design. You can find plenty of rustic furniture that meets those requirements, such as a water hyacinth bench that has a woven seat on top of black hardwood.

Whether you prefer the "found" look of shabby chic, the log-cabin design of country-western, or the clean, bright style of farmhouse, all three are authentic variations of rustic furniture design. Once you've decided which style is yours, start shopping for the furniture pieces that will come together to create a unique design that is all your own.