Rustic - Ever Wonder What Rustic Really Means?

by Pat Stelzer

Decorating terminology can be daunting. Everyone has a preconceived definition of terms used to describe home décor. Early American, Colonial, Victorian, contemporary, and the list goes on, each one supposedly designating a very different style. Probably one of the most misunderstood words in home decorating is “rustic”. Visions of log cabins, rough-hewn wood beams, rural farmhouses or lakeside cottages immediately jump to the fore when something is called rustic. Those are rustic, but so are many other styles and decorator choices.



Rustic incorporates those touches that help create a feeling of simplicity. Rustic style is artless or unpretentious, and it has a warmth and sincerity that transcends being categorized or limited to any particular time period. Folk art pieces are examples of that which fit into specific periods, but can also be classified as rustic, the Cigar Store Indian or a child’s wooden pull toy. Early American décor benefits by the addition of rustic touches like iron skillets or pewter, the poor man’s silver. During Colonial times, homes very often contained objects or useful items, quilts, tin wall sconces or earthenware jugs, now considered rustic or folk art pieces. Victorian homes had touches that today would be termed rustic or countrified. Baskets, tin matchbox holders or comb receptacles, were as much a part of the Victorian home as flounces, ruffles and lace. The trick is in selecting ‘rustic’ that fits the decorating theme. A replica of a boot maker’s sign goes well with Colonial or Country, while one that is flowery, light and sentimental fits into the more romantic Victorian.



Using rustic pieces adds warmth and individuality to every conceivable decorative style. A touch of humor or a reminder of the important things in life can give heart to any room, any home. Rustic can be used with contemporary, country, classic, and art deco. Chances are, rustic decorating will add charm and uniqueness to any style. People are drawn to certain styles, and there is something rustic to fit them all. Have fun with it. Incorporate those rustic touches to put an individual signature on a home. Know the style that creates the desired ambience, but don’t shy away from those things called rustic simply because the term doesn’t seem to fit. Terminology isn’t important, the result, an inviting home, should be the end goal.


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