When you hear the words "rustic decor," we're guessing that images of buffalo plaid upholstery, candelabra chandeliers, and log cabins immediately come to mind. And although that sounds pretty cozy, you can also achieve a warm, pastoral space by weaving in modern elements. In fact, the combo can result in beautifully unique rooms that are chock-full of texture and overflowing with rich character.
Megan Oldenburger, owner and designer at Dichotomy Interiors, couldn't agree more. Based in Woodstock, New York, Oldenburger is known for creating modern, organic spaces swathed in rustic elements, aka rooms that reflect the beauty of the surrounding Hudson Valley and Catskills regions. "I hope my spaces feel modern, clean, and crisp, but with a warmth that only organic and handmade materials from nature can bring," she says.
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Oldenburger believes that rustic design and living rooms go hand in hand. "Aside from the kitchen, the living room is where most people spend the bulk of their time," she says. "Keeping things warm, organic, and rustic helps keep the space relaxing and cozy so everyone can feel truly comfortable enough to play a game, have a glass of wine, or just read a good book all in one space."
To prove our point, here's a roundup of rustic living rooms that will leave you craving a country retreat to call your own.
24 Rustic Living Room Decor Ideas
1. Highlight a striking stone fireplace.
A carefully-chosen fireplace has the power to make (or break) a rustic living area. This space, designed by Shea of Studio McGee, features an impressive floor-to-ceiling fireplace clad in stone that complements the room's incredible view of the great outdoors. While much of the furniture features sleek, modern lines, a stump tabletop adds extra rustic vibes.
2. Don't be afraid to add modern accents.
If your living room already looks rustic — a brick fireplace, exposed ceiling beams, a weathered wood mantel — focus on incorporating modern elements. In this nook designed by Shea of Studio McGee, modern-day objects punctuate the space, like a round mirror, stylish ribbed vases, and a woven basket.
3. Choose a warm, neutral color palette.
Rustic living rooms tend to stick to a classic palette of warm, neutral tones, and Oldenburger's rustic interiors are no exception. "I tend to create very neutral but warm color palettes because my projects tend to have a lot of windows that highlight the scenery outside," the designer shares.
When recreating the look in your own space, aim to strike a balance between the colors represented inside and the scenery viewed outside. "There is typically so much nature, greenery, and mountains outside that I like to make the inside warm and neutral to let the views shine," the designer explains of her approach.
4. Embrace quirky accents.
Another way to add modern flavor to a rustic-style living room is to choose unexpected decor pieces. In this living room designed by Emily Henderson, there is no shortage of unique finds — from the cowhide rug to the wood furniture to the twigs on the wall. And let's not forget the eye-catching paper owl hanging from the ceiling.
5. Add boho touches.
No rule says you have to stick to only rustic. Add a hint of bohemian or a dash of midcentury, like photographer Carley Summers, who has mastered the eclectic look in her own living room. We adore the modernist artwork, the vintage floral chandelier, and the cactus in the corner.
6. Layer textures for added dimension.
Texture should be top of mind in rustic living room decor, according to Oldenburger. In fact, it's one of the main factors the designer considers while layering a space. "I like to incorporate greenery and foliage in my living spaces to help dissolve the boundary between the outside and inside, as well as wood, leather, steel, and wool," she says.
She also encourages experimenting with different textures as the seasons change. "Texture is one of the things that can be swapped around," she explains. "For instance, I typically remove my sheepskins from my chairs in the summer months and replace them with gauzy throws."
7. Store firewood in plain sight.
To create a truly modern, rustic living room, you need to carve out a dedicated nook to store chopped firewood like Anissa from House Seven Design. Her dreamy home features a cut-out in the wall filled with stacked logs, which also serves as a decorative element that adds warmth and texture to an all-white space.
8. Leave beams exposed.
Exposed ceiling beams are a surefire way to transform a living room from basic to rustic in a flash. And bonus points if they were salvaged from an old building. In this farmhouse bungalow designed by Jute Home, the beams continue from the sitting room to the living room, complementing the wood mantel and furniture.
9. Blend modern and vintage furniture.
To nail an ideal mix of contemporary and rustic styles, Oldenburger weaves together modern furniture with vintage and organic pieces. She believes that furnishings with a rustic feel help soften modern decor.
For example, if Oldenburger places a sleek sofa in a living room, she balances it out with a big, organic coffee table, ideally sourced from a local, small business. "I like to have at least 20% of my furniture be either custom, handmade, or from a local artisan," she says. "I love finding artists and makers in the area that I can incorporate into my work."
10. Try something other than white walls.
When we think of rustic design, we often associate the style with white walls, wood, and organic materials. But you can still create a homey vibe using pastels. Here, the light pink living room walls combined with the wooden furniture and green plants create a warm, earthy ambience.
11. Add a stove for a warm, inviting vibe.
Nothing says rustic living more than a fireplace or wood-burning stove. This traditional style fits well with the exposed beams and other wood elements. It's the perfect cozy focal point.
12. Bring nature in.
Oldenburger asserts that plants are a must-have for a rustic living room, or any room for that matter. "Spaces without any greenery make me sad, and within the last few years, they have been making some cool planters that up the game for displaying your greens," she says. Even though Oldenburger loves the real deal, she's also an advocate for faux greenery. "For every real plant or tree, get a decent fake one to mix in," she advises to those who struggle to keep plants alive.
13. Play with different fabrics and fibers.
An easy way to make things look modern but still intimate is to bring together various fibers and textures, like Ashley from Joyfully Growing did in her living room. She cleverly combined a woven pouf, a leather sofa, a cowhide rug, and patterned throw pillows. The shades of brown, gold, and gray add weight to a mostly white color scheme.
14. Add industrial elements.
Sometimes, all you need is an unexpected light fixture to make a rustic living room stand out. In this Scandi-chic space, crafted by the team over at Pearson Design Group, orb-like pendants steal the show amid industrial details like metal accents and a cool gray color scheme. The mix of these two styles is striking and unique.
15. Try a light color scheme.
One way to create a rustic yet modern space is to keep your color palette light. Don't get carried away with bulky pieces of wood furniture, dark leather upholstery, and stone cladding. Follow the lead of Lauren from Deluxe Design Studio and dial up the breeziness with a whispery blue wall paint, white furniture, and plenty of windows.
16. Select wood materials with intention.
When it comes to the materials Oldenburger uses in her rustic living room designs, she is particular about wood types and finishes. "I love spalted maple with a white wash on it, as well as walnut, which you can see in many of my homes," she says, "but I also love the neutrality of white oak, especially when it's rustic and has character and knots." Follow the designer's lead by seeking out materials and finishes that you love and making them the focal points of your living room.
17. Keep it simple with natural wood.
When it come to rustic living room design ideas, sometimes less is more. If you don't believe us, check out this space. It pairs a beautiful exposed-beam ceiling with a mix of vintage and modern furniture and a neutral color palette for simple perfection.
18. Add some coastal vibes.
Coastal style, like rustic design, uses natural materials to create a homey, inviting feel, making these two aesthetics a good match. This living room from The Lily Pad Cottage mixes rustic-inspired elements like the stone fireplace and wrought-iron chandelier with coastal ones, like white upholstered furniture and pops of blue. The result is soothing, casual, and down-to-earth.
19. Choose a small stove.
A huge, two-story rustic wood-burning stove like the one featured earlier in this list may not be for everyone. But you can add a smaller cozy touch, if your space allows, with a more petite version, like this one featured in a living room by Office of Architecture. Bonus: There's nothing more rustic than a pile of firewood.
20. Opt for statement-making light fixtures.
Soft lighting is essential to achieve an oh-so-cozy vibe in a rustic living room. To create even more visual interest, Oldenburger often turns toward big, bold light fixtures to make a statement and bring a feeling of juxtaposition to a room.
"I probably spend far too much time dwelling on lighting [fixtures], but they can really change a room, and at night, they have a big impact," the designer shares. "I have found some great fixtures on 1stdibs and Chairish for vintage chandeliers. For contemporary lighting, Restoration Hardware is always a reliable vendor. I've used their giant brass dome pendants in two projects. For discount lighting, I like to shop on Wayfair or France and Son."
21. Go glam.
Want to add a touch of luxury to your rustic living room decor? The gold, glass, and black accents in this living room from Ryan White Designs work well with the natural dark wood exposed beams. It's upscale while still being airy and natural.
22. Create a wood-paneled accent wall.
If you're going for a modern rustic living room, consider adding wood paneling to just one wall. As you can see in this space by Jennifer Palumbo, the wood wall adds a big dose of country charm without taking away from the room's bright, airy feel. A mix of other textures, from the rattan swing seat to the velvet sofa, create a cozy and dynamic atmosphere.
23. Incorporate midcentury accents.
It's not a no-no to incorporate design styles that you might not typically consider rustic. Oldenburger frequently includes midcentury furniture in her rustic designs. "I think my spaces try to pay homage in some way to the great furniture designers from the midcentury as well," she says. Pops of color, like the sofa in this living room from Renee Rodenkirchen, can add a vibrant and fun element to the design.
24. Add black to your color scheme.
While rustic design is known for soft, warm, neutral color schemes, a bit of black can really add definition. Just take a look at this living room by Carol Estes Design. The black floor lamp, cushions, artwork, and other accents add a sharp, modern touch to an otherwise cabin-like space.
Rustic Living Room Checklist
So, you've decided to give your living room a rustic makeover. While you can take this style in many different directions by incorporating boho, coastal, or even glam elements, some of its key characteristics include:
- A neutral but warm color palette
- Natural elements like stone, wood, faux fur, and hide
- Live plants to bring the outdoors in
- Fireplaces, wood-burning stoves, or candles
- Exposed wood beams and other natural wood accents
- A variety of layered, natural textiles