Decorating for Your Rustic Retreat

Allure of Cabin Rustic Décor

Rustic Decor Bathroom with Hana Copper Sinks

Hana hammered copper sinks

“Rustic is not what it used to be,” writes designer Emily Henson in her book Modern Rustic. “Gone are the days when rustic style meant beds made from logs, antlers above a stone fireplace and acres of tartan. Today, the look and its ingredients have had an original rethink.” Rustic décor may not be so literal these days, but it’s just as fun as it ever was.

In lake houses, ski lodges, off-the-beaten-path cottages, and cabins, the ordinary rules about decorating are not invited. Not unlike designing a nursery, where we’re “allowed” to create imaginative retreats, these vacation hideaways can offer more freedom to play with textures, colors, and even themes. In fact, some of our favorite photos of Native Trails products come from homes atop snowy hillsides or nestled at the end of a long drive to the lake. But even if you live nowhere near the woods or the ski slopes, the free spirit that prevails when designing a rustic space can still be yours. Whether it’s cabin décor or lake house décor you’re after, there are some easy ways to evoke it.

Some of our favorite rustic decor ideas:

1. Mind your color palette:

It used to be that rustic decor automatically meant warm tones. For example, think beige rather than gray, ivory instead of white. But today’s rustic palettes vary considerably. They can help when establishing styles ranging from traditional rustic to modern rustic to quirky rustic. Keep it neutral if you want to go for a contemporary rustic vibe. Or have fun with saturated colors found in nature for more traditional rustic home decor. (Pantone’s 2015 Color of the Year, marsala, plays exceptionally well with the materials so often found in a cabin: wood, copper, and leather.) If you’re after a bohemian rustic look, even a jolt of neon or an inky black will not be out of place in your space.

Rustic Decor Americana Vanity

Palomar Vanity Top with Integral Sink in Slate and Americana Vanity in Anvil

2. Focus on wash-up stations:

Avoid overkill by going deeply rustic only in certain spaces. One way to evoke the past is to install a vessel sink or farmhouse sink that is made of natural materials and that recalls the dry sinks and basins of the pre-plumbing era. Our luxe copper vessel sinks have taken center stage in many a rustic bathroom. Similarly, our apron front sinks in rustic kitchens. After all, today’s farmhouse sink evolved directly out of the rural homes of decades past. A time when women spent long hours with their aprons pressed against the sink. (Learn more about the history of the farmhouse sink here.)

3. Use natural materials as your base:

Draw inspiration from nature and you can’t go wrong with rustic chic décor. To set the right easygoing tone for a traditional mountain cabin, choose buttery-soft leather armchairs and couches, cowhide rugs, or driftwood coffee tables for the living space, and a barn wood vanity or reclaimed wood mirror for the bathroom. If you’re after modern cabin décor, consider juxtaposing these natural elements with exciting contemporary fixtures. Try sleek pendant lights and luxe materials like quartz or marble countertops, Lucite furniture, or an ivory faux fur throw. For a modern but earthy punch, add a little concrete. Try a concrete sink or custom concrete countertop.

Rustic Decor Aspen copper bathtub

Aspen hammered copper bathtub in Antique

4. Opt for a bathtub:

The shower is efficient and perfect on a workday—while a soaking tub makes us think of vacation when time is of no concern and entire weekends can be devoted to unwinding. Choose a luxuriously rustic bathtub made of hand-hammered copper to inspire guests—and yourself—to opt out of the rat race for the time being.

5. Ditch the kitsch in the kitchen:

To get the look of your favorite log cabin kitchens with all the amenities of the 21st-century gourmet kitchen, avoid the temptation to go all-out with rustic décor, which can be overkill on wood—wooden walls, floors, countertops, and furniture. Instead, pick a few high-quality items that won’t soon go out of style—a grand, rustic range hood or fabulous copper farmhouse sink—and have the cabinets painted a fresh shade to break up the expanse of wood.

Rustic Decor Bordeaux Wall Mount Vanity

Bordeaux Wall Mount Vanity in Oak

6. Seek out repurposed or reclaimed materials:

From accessories to lighting to furniture, an upcycled item can do wonders to up the authentic charm and character of rustic decorating and to speak to a former way of life. Our reclaimed wine barrel vanities do the trick, as do dining tables made from reclaimed wood or recycled copper, factory carts upcycled into coffee tables, and lighting fixtures fashioned from Ball jars, pails, and baskets.

7. Cut down on clutter:

Rustic décor celebrates the bones of a building and the texture of its raw materials. Everything about cabin or cottage décor should feel stripped down—from the bare wooden floorboards underfoot to the wood paneling or bricks on the walls to the rafters overhead. Log cabin décor is best when it skews toward minimalist—clean, warm and welcoming. After all, if cabin walls could talk, we would want them to say, “Stay awhile.”
To learn more about rustic décor style, read our articles on Farmhouse Style in the Kitchen and Using Sustainable Materials in the Bath.