The rustic decorating style is a true mainstay of interior design. But as with so many classic styles today, it has been reimagined over recent years. And a new, fusion style of modern rustic has emerged as a strong new contender in the style stakes. And plenty of people are loving the modern rustic bathroom aesthetic. So, let’s unpack how the modern rustic bathroom look is achieved.
The modern “neo rustic” bathroom is a warm, welcoming and unpretentious space. It fuses the best elements of traditional rustic “rough diamond” décor with chic contemporary elements and amenities.
Traditional rustic style meant plenty of raw, organic elements and influences from nature. It was always about the generous use of natural materials and their sensual, contrasting textures. Rough stone, warm wood, soft wool and linen, the weather-beaten patina of an old wooden bench, and so on. And in keeping with the natural theme, rustic décor is known for a colour palette of warm, earthy neutrals.
Another feature of authentic rustic style has been to draw attention to any architectural and sculptural elements of the home. So you expose stone or brick walls or original slate floors or highlight dramatic timber beams or a network of pipes. Make the most of any such so-called “raw, honest details” in your home.
Compared to traditional rustic, modern rustic is more pared-back and minimal and it’s scrupulously edited. All objects are thoughtfully curated, preferencing handmade, artisanal furniture and accessories.
Influences from other cultures and eras are embraced. In particular, inspiration is drawn from the twelfth-century Japanese lifestyle philosophy wabi-sabi. This belief system focuses on the imperfect beauty of life, craftsmanship and spaces. Wabi-sabi shares the same textural aesthetic with rustic décor. And there’s a deep respect for artisans and craftspeople and an appreciation of simple, pure, natural beauty.
So there you have the modern rustic style: Traditional country touches plus streamlined contemporary elements (modern finishes, a freestanding tub etc). The result? A wonderful balance of chic modernity and cosy authenticity.
Read on for my ‘rules’ for rustic bathrooms, a condensed rustic bathroom guide for those of you who love this decorating style.
1. Be organic
The key materials of the rustic style are those that come from an organic source. In other words, plenty of timber (especially reclaimed and distressed), natural stone and natural fabric. Highly textured materials are often used in contemporary statement sinks, vanities and tubs. This is another distinct feature of the modern rustic style.
2. Embrace organic shapes
Modern rustic bathrooms tend to avoid hard edges and lines in favour of softer, rounded, natural shapes and forms. Popular right now are beautiful ovoid, curved freestanding tubs. They’re perfect for creating a gentle, cocooning effect.
Love the beauty of modern design? Here are lots more contemporary bathroom ideas.
3. Show off architectural features
If you are building or renovating and have the chance to expose any architectural features, grab it! Wooden floorboards, stone walls or exposed beams all spell instant rustic charm and can become the focal point for your space. Leave timbers raw or go for off-white or earthy tones with some bathroom painting. Original windows like this look amazing too.
4. Cosy it up with earthy tones
The modern rustic colour scheme is guided by the neutral tones of natural materials. The palette is warm and earthy: beige, rust, chocolate brown, orange and charcoal, finished either chalky or matte. Look for warm paint tones and use warm light globes rather than cool ones.
5. Go for chunky furniture
Key furniture pieces for a modern rustic bathroom are the vanity or cabinets, and here, the rule of thumb is the rougher and chunkier, the better. Knotty woods or those with a prominent grain are often favoured.
Furniture might be a beautifully-designed bespoke timber vanity. Or it might be a stunning statement vintage piece to contrast with contemporary elements. Usually, simple, minimal tapware and hardware works best rather than something too fussy.
To recreate something like this it will take an expert bathroom cabinet maker.
6. Have large windows (in a perfect world…)
Take advantage of any big bathroom windows you may be lucky enough to have. Contemporary bathrooms are full of light. And traditionally rustic homes strive for connection with nature and the outdoors. With that kind of parentage, it’s only to be expected that the modern rustic décor style also aims for an abundance of natural light.
7. Go as raw or reclaimed as possible
Choose large furniture pieces made from reclaimed or distressed wood that feature a strong traditional appeal. It might even just be a very basic rustic vanity made of slabs of wood. It’s the perfect backdrop for a delicate white sink, while the attention is drawn to the mirror by the unusual rustic wooden frame.
For more bathroom vanity ideas across a variety of styles, make sure you take a look at our recent article featuring bathroom vanities.
8. Have a little timber stool
No rustic bathroom is complete without a simple Japanese-style or vintage wooden stool or small bench. They’re aesthetically pleasing in their imperfect little organic shapes. Especially against contemporary bathroom materials like glass or metals. And of course, they’re also useful for displaying a few small objects or textiles.
9. Or roll in a rustic log
An even more rustic alternative to a little wooden stool is to use a log butt as a shower stool. Protect with marine grade varnish and you have a simple yet effective instant rustic element.
10. Install a pendant lamp or two
Want an easy way to incorporate more natural textiles into your contemporary bathroom to create a modern rustic vibe? Add pendant lamps in organic materials. Oversized wicker or rattan lampshades will create flickering ambient light. Ones made of natural materials inject plenty of warmth into the space but metal ones also bring a nice industrial or farmhouse flavour.
There’s so much more that you can do with lighting though, so make sure you take a look at these other bathroom lighting ideas too.
11. Keep it simple
Rustic bathrooms often feature very basic, unpretentious accessories. Simple timber mirror frames, woven baskets, plain wooden shelving..
12. Go for coastal rustic
Lots of natural light and whitewashed timber walls will give your rustic bathroom a beachy, natural feel. Add black metal and transparent glass sconces for a modern touch. Or you could add warm-toned tapware and mirror frames for sophistication.
13. Have a barrel bathtub
Make your bath-time a grape experience…in a half wine barrel bathtub. It’s perfect for evoking the carefree countryside. Stick it on a timber floor for “denim-on-denim” vibes.
Need help with creating a timber floor for your bathroom that can handle moisture? Find an expert to help you with your bathroom flooring.
14. Go for a stone sink
A key element of the rustic bathroom is the inclusion of a vessel sink made of either metal or stone. A stone sink contrasts nicely with a timber vanity or shelving. Just add some tassel-fringed Turkish towels for cultural flavour and some colour and pattern.
15. Weave a tale with baskets
One of the easiest ways to add rustic character is to store towels and toiletries neatly away in wicker, seagrass or hessian baskets under the vanity.
16. Frame a mirror in wood
Another simple little way to add rustic charm to your bathroom is to add a rustic wood mirror frame. Or you could even make a truly unique mirror frame from twigs and branches.
17. Mix antique and modern
The quickest way to bring in a rustic flavour to your contemporary bathroom is to swap out one modern piece of furniture for a vintage one. Or get instant charisma with the vintage touch of antique mirrors. Their distressed and battered nature is what gives them their rustic charm.
Love vintage style? You might also like to check out our article on Art Deco style bathrooms.
18. Add a hide rug
If you have a modern bathroom, turn it into a rustic modern one by adding an old, standalone clawfoot bathtub. Give the space country flavour with faux animal hides for rugs.
19. Branch out
Use a single wooden branch as a rustic element. It provides welcome natural contrast to a sleek contemporary tub.
20. Layer with textiles
Textiles are absolutely central to the modern rustic bathroom style. A rich array of tactile, natural fabrics like wool, cotton, linen and velvet provides much-needed softness here. It helps counteract all the strong earthiness of the raw materials and create textural harmony.
And that’s a wrap on my guidelines for achieving a modern rustic bathroom aesthetic. Is this a look that appeals to you? Let me know in the comments!