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Rustic Meets Modern

January 11, 2022

The Trend Continues

Modern and Rustic, a strong contradiction in terms that no one ever thought would merge into a popular design trend.  After all, modern meant a sleek, cutting edge and often cold design style found most commonly in penthouse lofts in an urban environment.  On the contrary, rustic design was reserved for lake country. Evoking that feeling of old-time cottages adorned with soft natural woods and worn antique furniture from when your grandparents once vacationed on the lake. Never would we have imaged that merging the soft characteristics of nature with the harsh contrast of industrial design would create a trend that has defied all expectations.

“Modern Rustic” has been one of the most commonly requested design aesthetics in our market, far surpassing the traditional log cabins of old and we don’t see this slowing down any time soon.  An open floor plan accented by industrial finishes and large spacious windows combined with natural architectural elements of wood and stone has become a style of informal elegance that has proved to be as comfortable as it is inviting. Here are several features to give you inspiration to bring this emerging trend into your own space. 

Material Mash-Up

If Modern Rustic has taught us anything, it’s the idea that nothing is off limits in terms of finish.  In other words, don’t be afraid to mix it up and a perfect place to start is with the fireplace.  Often with its towering façade and multi-dimensional character, a fireplace is a great way to mix materials and bring in that industrial touch.  A combination of limestone, wood and steel made a grand statement on this two-story fireplace wall giving the illusion that the fireplace had a more massive appeal.  Sometimes less may be more.  In this exquisite remodel of a lodge-pole pine cabin, the entire fireplace was encased in steel and modestly accented with lighting hidden by repetitive horizontal wood bands.  This simple technique created just enough modern edge in an otherwise rustic atmosphere.  Another great space to incorporate some modern touches in a rustic cottage is the bar.  Here the design team made a statement with a sleek steel base cabinet softened by a wood top and black walnut paneling to create a warm, yet edgy vibe.

Lavish Lighting

A more versatile solution to adding a modern touch is through lighting.  Chandeliers of lighted spheres and cylinders hung by thin metal rods that drape the full length of a stairwell give an aura of elegance to an otherwise utilitarian space.  For a more subtle touch, select sleek metal sconces or discrete puck lights recessed into the floor to flood a stone wall or surface. As trends shift, lighting can be easily swapped out for a different style making this a great solution for timeless design.

Optical Illusion

Materials and finishes aren’t the only tools at your disposal to create a modern rustic feel.  Creative design and structural illusion can capture that aesthetic and offer just as much visual punch. For example, floating stairs are one design element that marry both rustic and modern details.  While the stairs are not actually floating, the illusion proves otherwise. The wood slab treads provide a rustic weightlessness contradicted by the sheer mass of the structural steel components suspended between two floors. Adding a thin metal railing further counteracts the visual weight of the steel to provide balance to an otherwise impractical possibility.

These two stairways are stunning examples of different ways of using similar materials to create a dramatic visual effect.  On the left, a single steel stringer supports the floating wood tread while the horizontal railing system incorporates a linear element drawing your eye upwards to the loft above. On the right, steel was used as a more traditional support flanking each end of the open wood tread giving the illusion of more stability without obstructing the view. Both stairwells are functional, stable and provide an artistic element to the space.  

Wall of Windows

If your design style is to fully embrace modern architecture on the interior of your home but you’re intrigued by a rustic contrast, there are simple ways to add that rustic touch without changing your design vision.  With nature being one of the biggest influences of rustic design, a great way to bring some of the beauty of nature into your home is through a wall of windows.  Although not a new concept, these window walls have evolved with the Modern Rustic trend by embracing a more pure aesthetic. 

Gone are the days of intricate triangular trapezoid patterns and round-top arches of glass.  The Modern Rustic style embraces the simplicity of square and rectangular picture windows often oversized to produce a clear, unobstructed view of the outdoors.  The geometric nature of these windows offers ample opportunity for hidden window shades powered by your home automation system for privacy and protection from the harsh effects of the sun. 

If you still like the look of a triangular window in your home’s vaulted roof peak, perhaps include a multi-slide patio door to embrace the idea of open glass while taking your indoor entertaining to new levels allowing unlimited access from inside to out.  


Exterior Inspiration

The Modern Rustic trend extends far beyond the interior of your home and can be incorporated into exterior design details as well.  Much like your interior spaces, mixing materials is always a great way to blend design inspiration.  Stone columns wrapping a prominent corner of your wood paneled facade compliments the soft tones of nature with the visual strength of modern design. Incorporate robust wood or steel beams as structural supports for an extended overhang. Do away with thick window and corner trims for a sleek mitered, industrial look. 

Wider fascia constructed of multiple pieces of trim create an illusion of a monolithic roof slab suspended over an airy wall of glass. Adding flat roof planes elsewhere introduces a linear simplicity to a modern two-story façade. All these elements can also be incorporated into a pitched roof design as seen in this stunning front entry stoop. The thick fascia complimented by the steel structural truss and columns add an air of modern to this otherwise rustic log home.       

The sky is the limit with the Modern Rustic trend and that’s perhaps why its popularity continues. There are no rules or standards to live by so get creative. Mix it up and step outside your comfort zone to create a space that is unique to you.